The Pharma Answer Machine
Her two words started our meeting and ended our pitch. The ad agency exec didn’t stop there.
Her quantum prick at the insight balloon became an unstructured hole you could drive your biggest data through.
“The whole thing is a mess. Data should drive our plans. Really, it can’t. Vendors come in here and tell me how many numbers they’re going to give us. In the end, our analysts just get a bunch of who-clicked-where tables. Fast forward a few months and we get charts and even more tables. Most people can’t or don’t have the time to act on these so-called ‘insights.’”
Then a week after our meeting, WPP sold off most of its data business Kantar to “focus on data and digital.” Clearly, this is more than rebranding; the data world is changing.
What’s an Insight and Where Do I Get One?
Turns out the what is the easy part. An insight drives your brand. Apparently, creative types know this and keep it to themselves.
“Why is a good insight like a refrigerator? Because the moment you look into it, a light comes on.”
– Jeremy Bullmore, WPP Advisory Board
No, you don’t need an insights fridge. A friend and expert tells us that all we have to do is, “Ask.”
Our expert is Ashish Agrawal is an experienced commercial analytics lead. He builds teams that build data warehouses that build reports. His advice, “Stop thinking about reports. At the end of the day, fundamentally, people ask me a question.”
Like our agency exec, his brands have lots of numbers and lots of pretty charts. Those things tell his marketers how they did. Emphasis on the past.
His marketers ask questions to guide what they will do. Emphasis on the what’s going to happen. Answers—not charts—drive strategy.
In Ashish’s Utopia, every Monday, his people would ask, “What do I need to know—right now?” A big part of his job is to get people to ask the right question.
“Our industry loves complexity. Veeva changed/simplified CRM. Right now, time lag is a real problem. Data is a real problem. Presenting data is a real problem. Our mindset has to change. It’s time to change data.”
An Insights Arms Race
IBM spent more than $15 billion to build Watson. In June, Google and Salesforce spent $18 billion to buy Looker and Tableau, respectively. Here in healthcare, the private equity fund, Bain, bought most of Kantar.
The investment bank, Oaklins DeSilva+Phillips, calls it an “insights revolution.” They ran an event to discuss it in early October. Managing Director, Ken Sonenclar, summed it up like this:
“Clearly, the enormous investment to transform old-line market research companies into data and analytics powerhouses signals the huge opportunity for those who can generate real insights for their customers.”
The recurring themes at Ken’s event were that insights are:
-Easy to consume.
-Unique and lead to real-time decisions.
-Leaders from Kantar and Bain spoke at Ken’s event. Their history, scale, and being at the top of a mountain gives them unique perspective.
“Market research is the means. Insights are the end. When we started, there was no data out there. Now, there’s too much data out there. Our clients need to parse through it to find the value.”