Cultivating an Insights Democracy – the new role of Insights leaders?

The function of an insights department has always been linked to empowerment, connecting decision-makers with the inspiration or the understanding that is needed to make smart choices for business growth.

The challenge for leaders now is how to best fulfil the demand for insight. Will it be sufficient for insights teams to be regarded as the ‘font of all knowledge’? Can they realistically inspire and guide the decision-making across whole sales and marketing teams, as well as senior stakeholders? The short answer is ‘no’ – insight leaders will need to find new ways to get the insight that is needed into the right hands at the right time. And this will need to be done with less human involvement.

Most FMCG companies have started their journey towards an insights democracy – that is to say, ‘self-serve’ that really works. Business teams will enjoy direct access to the day-to-day insights that they need to inform decisions. This in turn frees capacity among Insights leaders to inform the bigger, longer-term strategic thinking and business planning.

What are the present-day barriers to creating an insights democracy?


Ambition and Urgency

Given the many immediate priorities, democratisation of insight can sometimes be placed in the ‘important, not urgent’ box. However, the time horizon for this revolution in insights is not 5-10 years. It is 2-3 years at best. This means that today’s leaders will see through one of the biggest revolutions in of the last decades. Most are already testing, learning and adapting to new approaches.

Focus reverts to data, not insight

If the focus becomes ‘how do we democratise our data’ then this misses a trick, and under-values the role that Insights teams have played up until now. Rather, the focus should be ‘how do we democratise insights’. This means we either need to build the capability to generate insights across all teams – or we need to automatically generate insights from the data sources. Training people up on individual data sources will not be sufficient to effect broad change.

Focus on technologies rather than people

The democratisation of insight will inevitably involve some changes to the ways that data is stored, processed and shared in the business. The irony in this quest for rapid change is that the scope balloons and corporations get bogged down in major IT infrastructure projects that bear little fruit for years. Instead, keep a focus on a few pertinent needs of business teams – prove capabilities there and then scale.

Strategic Direction

It is important that Insights leaders within the business are the driving force behind democratisation of insight.

User-centric insight automation

Insights leaders will be key in identifying the most frequently asked time-sensitive and revenue-sensitive business questions. These form an excellent starting place for considering how best to democratise insights. Starting small and scaling will be more effective than starting too broad.

Consistent and appropriate analytics

Consistency throughout the stages of insight generation is crucial for business alignment

As insights are democratised, the consistency of analytic approaches is key – ensuring that everyone sees one version of the truth. Insights leaders become the ‘master authors’ of business performance stories and the guardians of appropriate analytics.

Organisational change

Like every change in a large organisation, as much attention should be given to the organisational change behaviours as to the development of solutions. It will be necessary to identify champions at every level across the business and celebrate adoption of new practices.

Getting Started

If you are ready to take your next steps towards democratising insights in your business check out our eBook: Why top FMCGs are seeking Insights-on-Demand and the 3-Phase solution to beat them to it. Alternatively, fill out the form below to get in touch with one of our team who will answer any questions you have about this process.

Further Reading

To learn more about FMCG analytics we recommend this eBook from Deloitte:

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