Big Data in B2B was the talk of last year & every single organization that has heard about it at least once, might have thought of implementing it. For those who argue that big data is not for all businesses, that isn’t true. With few tweaks it can be modeled to any kind of industry & organizations can be benefited from the actionable insights derived from Raw Data accumulated.
In the world of B2B industry, today’s marketers have no doubt that big data has a big role to play, even though it has actually been around for years. It has a long history even before the computers, as the idea of creating an ever expanding body of knowledge ripe for analysis was popular even from ancient times.
The earliest example of humans storing & analyzing data are the tally sticks. The Ishango Bone discovered in 1960 in Uganda is considered to be one of the earliest pieces of evidence of prehistoric data storage. Things have taken a huge turn from there over time. Today in the world of internet, Data is essential in all walks of life & business. But big data & actionable insights are still confusing for many marketers.
Big data is nothing but a more straightforward word for “tons of information”. In technical terms, it’s extremely large data sets that can be computationally analyzed to uncover actionable insights. Now majority marketers make the mistake of considering data, information & insights as synonyms.
Data are the raw facts that are usually in the form of texts & numbers. It can either be in qualitative (observed) or quantitative (measured) form. The problem with data is that it mostly exists in computer friendly formats in databases & spreadsheets.
Information is the data that has been processed, aggregated & organized to more of a human friendly format. Information will be mostly presented in the form of data visualizations, reports & dashboards.
And finally actionable insights are created by studying information & arriving at conclusions. Both data & information form the base for discovery of actionable insights which can then influence decisions & drive change. Actionable insights are considered as the missing link between data & business value.
The idea of actionable sight is that an insight that drives action is more valuable than one that simply answers a question. But to identify true actionable insights, marketer should consider the following attributes:
When an insight is focused on to key business goals & strategic initiatives, it’ll drive more action. It’s more straightforward to interpret & convert strategically aligned insights to tactical responses because mostly relate directly to the levers in the business that you are focused on.
It’s hard to move forward if there is a lack of ample background. Marketers need a benchmark for giving data proper context. Without an accompanying context, insights may end up raising unwanted skepticism & objections than action.
An insight can be strong fact to one & just noise for another. This is why there is a level of subjectivity when it comes to relevance of actionable insights. If insights aren’t timely, routed to right decision makers or are trapped in an analytics tool that managers never come cross, they will never come to use.
The more specific & complete the insight, the more likely that it will be acted on. Insights based on KPIs & other high level metrics can highlight gripping anomalies but sometimes may lack sufficient detail for immediate action. An insight can’t be considered as an actionable one if it doesn’t help enough to explain why something occurred.
With hell lot of competing data around, having actionable insights that are novel will have an edge over familiar insights. Sometimes we become insensible to particular insights if we feel they reinforce than challenge or evolve our current knowledge & benefits.
An insight will be overlooked & forgotten if people don’t understand why it’s important & how it can help them. Clearly conveyed insight can create a strong signal that’s hard to miss or ignore & lead to a pathway for action to occur.
In today’s era business intelligence is considered as gold mine by marketers in both B2B & B2C. Market research is the way to mine it out to increase mindshare, market share, competitive advantage, revenues & profitability. When done properly market research generates significant ROI. But for that to happen, it’s vital that B2B market research be designed, executed & manages in the right way.
In order to get actionable insights there are certain practices that marketers should follow which are:
Focus on the right problem to solve
This may sound blatantly obvious. But majority B2B market researches failed because they do not target the right problem. It may take weeks to explore, analyze & understand the right business problem but it’s worth the effort.
Ensure that the sample size is adequate
This may get a bit tough, so it’s better to use a professional market research expert to ensure sample size is sufficient & is not kept artificially small to fit a needlessly narrow population window. If not insights won’t be reliable outside of the segment.
Ensure enough timeframe to maximize participation
It’s common that B2B market research participants delay in their participation & they even fall off the radar for even months. This is primarily because of the nature of the process. But if there’s enough & suitable timeframe to re-engage participants the market research project will not derail.
Target decision makers
Identifying decision makers can be quite difficult in B2B market research compared to B2C market research. The best way to reach them is to avail the help of professional B2B market research vendors who have the resources to locate & connect with a desired demographic.
Craft specific stakeholder reports
Sometimes even an excellent market research can fail to generate actionable insights for the reason that information is not presented properly to various stakeholder groups. Executives will need different information than R & D teams & the same can be said for product development teams compared to sales team & so on. A one-size-fits-all report will only confuse teams & will not serve anyone’s interest.
Bonus:Now, we may not be able to help you with all the practices but targeting decision makers can be will never be tough for you.
The best way is to identify all stakeholder groups before getting on with the market research project & understand what actionable information is needed to generate actionable insights.
Gathering as much as actionable insights from your marketing data can generate huge returns for the company. But increased actionablility of insights alone doesn’t guarantee its adoption or application. It should motivate employees to think more deeply about data & motivate them to act on a more consistent basis.