Given the fragmented and isolated nature of both businesses and consumers today, brands have to use every dimension of data available to them to serve as a sort of radar to identify, understand, influence and align with the evolving trends of the markets and tendencies of customers. While identifying the spectrum of data sources is a solid initial step, synthesizing this information into a working set of collective insight is a critical component to driving success today.
Developed by MRS (The Market Research Society)*, the concept of intelligence capital™ is defined as “the information, evidence and insight an organization collectively assesses, circulates and acts upon.” This is basically the data-driven evidence across a company that is inventoried, collected, circulated and analyzed to guide decisions, set strategy, deliver engagements and drive innovation. For savvy operations, it generally serves as the strategic backbone and is becoming widely considered as important as financial capital and human capital to help a brand thrive.
Gaining perspective from this integrated insight contributes a robust perspective and sustainable competitive advantage to the business that can be easily accessed and shared in the current ‘work from home’ state to ensure everyone is operating from the same foundation of evidence.
It is important to realize that devising a solid, reliable base of intelligence capital™ for an operation is also reliant on avoiding a series of data pitfalls, or sins, which many brands fall into. These ‘Seven Sins of Customer Motivation,’ which I recently reviewed in ESOMAR’s Research World are just as important to focus on, in order to avoid, as the keys to raising intelligence capital™ are critical to achieve.
A major difference with intelligence capital™ is that you don’t have to “raise it” in the traditional sense, like fundraising for financial capital or hiring from human capital. Rather, the foundation of intelligence capital™ already exists within each organisation. It largely lies on a quantitative and qualitative basis within the spectrum of digital systems across the organization, from point-of-sale platforms, social changes, online weblogs, applications, customer surveys, loyalty programs and myriad technical systems.
The key to extracting this intelligence capital™ is to leverage the technical tools to identify, integrate, synthesize and optimize the data sources in order to accumulate the intelligence capital and leverage it as a strategic advantage.
Generally speaking, there are four general steps to developing intelligence capital™ for the organisation, including:
Inventory: The initial step in assembling intelligence capital™ for the organisation is to identify the location of each individual dataset and where they are housed across the technology infrastructure, along with the owners and usage applications. It is also important to understand the scope of the information contained within each dataset. This is a critical step in order to have a view into the types of information available and the corresponding ownership in order to inventory and integrate them in order to deliver a holistic view of the customer.
Integrate: From there, integrating these fragmented datasets into a single-source environment is important in order to overlay the intelligence dimensions and synthesise the insight they provide. This requires customer experience technology in order to ingest and synthesise the datasets in order to compare and contrast them in order to gain strategic perspectives of the behaviours, attitudes, sentiments, preferences and engagements with the brand across the entire customer journey, and specifically on the path to purchase.
Intersperse: Once the data sources are centralized it’s critical to get the intelligence interspersed across the company and into the hands of decision-makers at both the tactical and strategic levels across the organisation. This requires the same customer experience technology platform in order to provide a central point of access to the intelligence.
Inform: Beyond providing access to the insight, teams are then tasked with advising their decisions and strategies with this data-driven evidence. This approach aids in the essential need of every team to be working off the same foundation of evidence in order to align their understanding of customers as they provide motivating engagements across every step of the customer journey.
While the term ‘intelligence capital™’ is relatively new, the concept is one that has been widely adopted by organisations that are truly customer-centric in approach. Discovering the data sources across their operations while developing a process to integrate and synthesise these datasets are critical initial steps. However, it is equally important to distribute this customer intelligence across the spectrum of teams in order to drive decision making, set strategies, direct tactics, design experiences and guide innovations. Finally, duplicating this approach and making it repetitive is a major step in constructing a customer-centric backbone for the organisation in order to deliver exceptional customer experiences on an ongoing basis.
*Intelligence Capital™ was a concept originally developed by MRS. Further information can be found on the Intelligence Capital™ part of the MRS website: https://www.mrs.org.uk/resources/intelligence-capital