Over the past few months, following publication of my "Customer Insights Center of Excellence" report , there’s been a significant uptick in questions by insights and analytics teams who want to talk to us about CoEs. That’s a positive sign that firms are feeling the crunch to get more value from their insights functions. What’s the evidence for that conclusion?  What can we learn from who’s asking about insights CoEs?  And most importantly, what really matters in how you organize?

Before we dig in to answers, let’s set the bar on what “great” looks like in truly customer obsessed organizations: they use data for insights to improve customer experience that matters most to business outcomes.  As my colleagues James McCormick, Brian Hopkins, and Ted Schadler write in their recent report, "The Insights-Driven Business," customer obsessed businesses act on insights in closed loops, at speed, and at scale in all parts of the firm. They embed analytics and testing directly into operating teams. And, firms who implement these approaches run faster and fleeter than you.  The pressure is on from insights-driven organizations.

Below the level of “great,” firms struggle to generate meaningful insights and act on them at the speed their customers are moving at.  Here’s what marketers, for example, are reporting.  Results of Forrester’s Global Business Technographic® Marketing Survey, 2016 show that 65% of marketing decision-makers gave a rating of “strong” to their customer intelligence / insights (CI) function.  However, a significant number of marketers also strongly agree on two problems they see:  the CI team takes too long to deliver insights (42%) and the insights delivered are not actionable (40%). Interestingly, 42% also strongly agree that organization silos negatively impact the quality of the insights.   

So there we have it:  firms seeking to embrace customer obsession to achieve better outcomes are looking at organization best practices and approaches.

Digging in to who’s reading the "Customer Insights CoE" report confirms that conclusion.   We looked at the industries represented by Forrester readers who viewed the report.  We found that 28% of readers came from the business services industry and 11% from the software and tech services industry.  That makes sense: those readers are likely seeing, from their own clients, the same uptick of interest in optimizing organization for better use of insights.  About 27% of readers came from financial services.  That also makes sense: almost all financial services firms understand and act at some level on the customer obsession imperative and seek information on how they can continuously improve – and how they compare to competitors  (see the "Why Financial Service Firms Top Forrester’s Customer Experience Index" report).    After that, there’s a long tail of readers’ industry affiliations:  retail (6%), communication services (6%) and a number of additional industries at 5% or below.

Big watch-out, though:  moving boxes around on organization charts is never a solution on its own. Effective reorganization for driving business value – at speed — from data and insights requires “surround sound” that includes governance, program management, great communication strategy and execution – and a large dollop of persistence.   That’s the holistic approach firms require for getting to "great" in using data for insights to actions that improve business outcomes, ASAP.