Presenters: Andrew Cannon, Executive Director, Global Research Business Network; Simon Chadwick, Managing Partner, Cambiar; Lisa Courtade, Executive Director, Department Head, Global Customer Insights, Merck & Co, Inc. USA; Camille Nicita, President & CEO, Gongos, Inc.; Mario Simon, Global Topic Leader, Customer Engagement, Boston Consulting Group; Melanie Courtright, CEO, Insights Association.
Transcript Courtesy of Focus Forward & FF Transcription
Melanie Courtright: I'd like to go ahead and get started. First of all, a warm welcome and thank you to everyone for spending this time with us today. We are going to be talking today about time for insights to prove business impact. In this world we live in today where people are trying to figure out where to best spend their money, it's more important than ever that we be able to talk about proven business impact. So a couple of housekeeping items. Our disclaimer for you, a reminder, that the information we share today is not intended to substitute for any kind of financial advice or legal advice, and especially for our brands on the call today, the things that we express in the call today are the opinions of the individuals and should not be deemed to be the opinions of their employers or the rest of the corporate insights research world. What we're gonna be sharing a lot with you and we hope that you have – that you are able to take a lot away from it. Another reminder for you, if you have not pulled up your QA pod or your chat pod, this would be a great time to do that, would love to hear from you at any point in the session today. If you have a comment or a question, I hope you'll drop it into one of those too. You can make them anonymous or have your name by them. You can also send comments via the chat pod to all panelists, to all attendees, or to private people. So whatever you need to do there. We just hope that you'll find those moments where you have something to share and that you share it with us. We will leave time at the end for Q&A, and we will do our best to follow up with questions that we aren't able to get to afterwards. A quick reminder for you all that we have the coronavirus resource page. This session, along with all of our other virtual town halls, have been recorded, will be recorded. They will be shared out of the platform, as well as made available on our website, and the transcripts are also made available that you'll be able to use if you'd like to read rather than listen. And there, of course, are a lot of continuing contributions to this webpage being made, everything from so many research studies to the latest and greatest on the CARES Act and employment act, and the newest things about what Congress is doing to protect businesses as they reopen from frivolous lawsuits. Very cool stuff. All right, so I would like to take a moment to introduce our guests on the call today. Andrew Cannon is the executive director of GRBN. He'll be doing most of the hosting for the session today, so I'll get to sit back a little bit and smile. I'll pass it off to him in just a second. We also have Simon Chadwick with Cambiar. He's the managing partner of Cambiar, and as you know, a wonderful friend to the Insights Association. We have Lisa Courtade from Merck. Lisa Courtade is the current chair of our Insights board of directors, and also, a good friend both of the board and of mine. You see me. There's my picture there. You all know who I am. We have Camille Nicita from Gongos. President. I learned how to say Gongos. It's Gon-gus, not Gon-gos. To help you out there a little bit, Camille. Camille is also on our board and is doing wonderful work in the marketing world these days. And then we have Mario Simon, global topic leader, customer engagement, Boston Consulting Group. So welcome to each of you. Thank you very much, and with that, I will hand it off to Andrew to host this session.
Andrew Cannon: Thank you, Melanie, and a big thank you to everybody also from me, to all the panelists and everybody else for joining us today. Before we get into the discussion, I think it's worthwhile a bit to spend a few seconds thinking about what we mean when we talk about insights impact. And what we're really talking about here is not budget efficiency. Although, as we know, we probably will touch on this during the discussion. It is extremely important that we are efficient with the insights budget. We can't get away from that. But when we talk about impact, we're talking about impact on two levels, which are connected, of course. One is on the business decisions themselves, which are going to be taken as a result of the insights work that we're doing, which has a knock on effect hopefully on the business results of the business, which is ultimately what we need to do as insights professionals, as an industry, is to have a positive impact on business results. That can either be, obviously, increased revenue, cost savings, whatever aspect we take. But without that impact, we're not going to get the budget. We're not going to get the recognition we need moving forward. So that's just really to frame what we're going to talk about today, and I'd like really to start the conversation, so I can move forward. Next slide. Seem to be struggling to do. Thank you. Could we go back? Sorry. To the last slide. Melanie, if you can do that, thanks. Really I'd like to talk today about and start off with the immediate impacts, and I think probably the best person to talk about this, to kick us off, is Lisa. Not really obviously to talk about Merck. I assume over the last couple of months, you've talked with a lot of your peers about what their situation, how their job, how their life is changing. But if you could share with a few thoughts about how you see the immediate impact, not only on yourselves, but on your teams and also on your stakeholders, that would be a good kick off to the session.
Lisa Courtade: I think it's really around focus. So the immediate impact was to figure out how we pivot as a business, as insights organizations. What work to continue, what work to move online, and what types of work to postpone or maybe not do given the current environment. The next question that I've seen a lot of teams seeking to answer is what's happening. So what's happening to products? What's happening to customers? What's happening in the world? And there's certainly a lot of that going on right now. Many tracking studies, a lot of information coming in, and what I've seen some of the more forward looking teams doing over the last, I want to say, the last week or two is working on what will it all mean. So where do we go from here? How do we reengage? What behaviors remain sticky, and what are the long-term impacts on the business? And I think that's very similar on the agency sides as well.
Andrew Cannon: Simon, I think you probably talked with a lot of your clients as well around this issue. How do you see them at the moment dealing with the immediate impact of the COVID-19?
Simon Chadwick: I think Lisa has definitely put her finger on what insights teams are trying to deal with right now. I think a lot of them are trying to move away from just data and information, and not only to insights, but to foresight and really trying to inform and also influence senior management in terms of this is what it's going to look like afterwards, given the data that we have, and this is what it means for the business and this is what you should be doing. I was on a – I was observing a very interesting webinar yesterday, which had five insights leaders from different industries. They all were pivoting towards this. They were all feeling that now is the time that they should be bold and they should be saying this is what it means, this is what you should be doing, and the – in so doing, they were proving the real value, the real impact of insights in their businesses all over again. Something which they were very positive would actually last post-crisis. So I found that very optimistic.
Andrew Cannon: OK. I mean it's fantastic because obviously that's two ways to think about this current situation, right? I mean we can treat it with pessimism, or we can treat it with optimism. And what you're both saying I think is that most of the insights leaders you're talking to are finding a positive spin on the situation, driven by their stakeholders' need to look forward, to understand what the world is gonna be like post the pandemic. Correct?
Simon Chadwick: Yeah. Not only their need, Andrew, but also the ability of these leaders and their teams to respond. I think Lisa said it early on in the crisis that she's been working harder than ever before. Another insights leader said yesterday, I'm looking forward to getting back to the office, so I can work less. So I think people really have stepped up here and are finding it a great challenge, as well as an opportunity.
Andrew Cannon: Excellent. Excellent. Well, I switched slides to what I hope to most people is a familiar chart, looking at the maturity stage of the insights function. And as we know basically at the last measurement of the BCG, Yale, Cambiar research, there was about 80% of insights functions in those lower two boxes, where we're more talking obviously around basically hindsight more than insight, and definitely not foresight, which is really the strategic partner, source of competitive advantage area. And here I think it's a good time to bring in Mario from BCG to really talk about how are you seeing it with the clients that you're working with and how you're expecting them to move. Can we go back a slide still? Please. How are you expecting, Mario, them to change during the course of 2020? Are you seeing a change already, and how do you expect that change to accelerate over the next few months?
Mario Simon: Yeah. So what I'm seeing is that wherever, so first of all, I would make a segmentation between clients who are in a survival mode and companies who are in a – like survival mode because this event has actually sort of put to question existential issues. Versus others where there is either a stable enough business during this crisis or beyond that, where we can see the sort of opportunity to be thinking a little bit more ahead. So in all cases, regardless of what part of the segment sort of one falls into, what we see is that whether businesses are in the traditional or the contributor or the source of competitive advantage, all of these teams are actually asked to really answer fundamental questions of the present. And one of them is what is happening, which Lisa mentioned. That is sort of taking a lot of effort and energy, and depending on where on the segmentation those teams are and those companies are, is either more acute or less acute, but nevertheless, very acute. And then there's the other question which is – which I think will really benefit the insights craft and bring some of the magic that I think that maybe has been more elusive lately, which is the – not only the question of what is happening, but also the why. So what insights groups have always done fantastically well is sort of being able to have a deeper perspective on the why, and those things tend to become sort of maybe less valuable or more commoditized when behavioral data is all I need to run my business in a stable environment. In an unstable environment, which we are experiencing, the why actually really defines what are the scenarios of the future, and no one knows what will happen in the future. So everyone is thinking in a scenario way, rather than in a prediction way. And so the why becomes extremely important when you are thinking of a simulation model where you have different outcomes that are possible with different probabilities. A black swan event, which is the first one. Then potentially a second peak, which is the second one. And of course, through all of the economic reactions that again are quite unpredictable. And so with all of those inputs being able to be thoughtful and sophisticated on the why becomes more important than when you run a stable business as usual. So that's where I see a lot of the excitement. I think it's a great opportunity at the moment because of the urgency that insights groups sort of accelerate towards that right side of the page. And I think many are. The point is how do we stay there once stability comes back in some way, shape, or form in the next 18 months or so. So that's I think very interesting.
Andrew Cannon: Thanks, Mario. That's really – I think, Simon, what I would like you to sort of comment on related to that then is given that's the scenario and that's the case about this importance of why and this opportunity for insights, how do we convince or talk to the stakeholders about the real impact of insights and this importance of understanding the future, understanding the big why questions, not just focusing on counting the beans as it were? How do you see that with that stakeholder communication?
Simon Chadwick: Well, I think at the – certainly in sort of stage three, stage two to three companies that are making that transition that we've talked with, one of the most important things is to be able to actually measure and be able to describe what you are doing and how it has impact and why the why is important. But I think also, it's a question of establishing a trusted relationship with senior management, which many insights leaders have found the ability to do and are able to thereby talk about what they've achieved for the business, what the investment in insights is actually producing. So I think Mario brings up a really good point that it's not sufficient now just to have behavioral data. It's not sufficient to be relying on gobs and gobs of data, which we don't know whether it's good or not. We do have to have the why, and we do have to have a deeper understanding of people and particularly a psychological understanding, which is going to drive consumer behavior well into the future. The psychological scarring of this crisis needs to be understood, and I think that's what a lot of companies are looking to their insights departments to try and start to get a handle on.
Andrew Cannon: Fantastic. Well, at this point, I'd like to bring in Camille because obviously Camille here is representing the industry. No pressure there, Camille. If we could look at the next slide, really, Camille, how do you see the implication of all of this for agencies? Because obviously what we've talked about could have a huge implication on business, so if you could talk us through some of those short term implications, that would be fantastic.
Camille Nicita: Sure thing. So as we talk to our client partners in every industry, I think one of the resounding sentiments is now is the time for insights to come to the table, to shine, right? Because insights' role is to bring the human to the table. But I think we have to take that in context of, and where agency partners can come in, is just to think of the fact that in order for insights to actually be a key resource in driving business outcomes, it really needs to be considered in the context of a value chain. And I think from what I'm hearing from people who are going before me, this concept should really resonate, and what we've got on the screen right now is the context of a customer-centric value chain. But you can easily take that to be a synonym for driving business outcomes or driving business impact. Because if an organization is to be customer-centric, it goes far beyond just bringing customer understanding into the business. It's marrying that understanding with actual impact, action, delivery, implementation in the market, right? So if you look at this value chain here, we can step through it. It really implies that data alone, right, is valuable, but as you move up this value chain, and I won't go through every step here. We've got a smart audience. But data alone, valuable, right? You move it to the next stage of you analyze the data, it becomes even more valuable. Take it to the next step of synthesis. Once you give context to that data or maybe weed out data that's not important, it becomes even more valuable. You marry it with the why, and it actually becomes an insight. Because just because you synthesize the data doesn't mean that there's an insight there. Then that insight can help drive or inform strategy, all the way up to implementation. And it's our job as agency partners to really help show sort of that journey that the data has the potential to take within the organization, and I say potential purposefully because we actually have to help move it along this journey. It doesn't do it on its own, and so often, we just collect information and expect it to live within the organization and there's so many steps beyond that to actually get it to where it's driving business impact. And I think to what Simon said, it's marrying that with creating relationships with key stakeholders. Because even if you do have great understanding, the organization has to be ready to receive that information and to put it into action.
Mario Simon: Right. And I think that – I love this page, and I think the disintermediation that potentially has happened a little bit is you go from data to analysis to implementation. In the last few years, obviously, that has been a major push of we have the data and it's analyzed by a machine and it directly goes into how I change my behavior as a company. And I think that is very powerful in a stable situation, and needs complementation of the synthesis and the insight piece in a situation where you don't know what the outcome is going to be.
Melanie Courtright: If I may. I love this. One of the things I think specific to the current, the scenarios that we're in today, and not only the different segments of the industry but the different segments of research projects. We also have to think about what stopped. What did we stop doing? And so this works really well for – both for showing what was the impact of the data that we collected and the insights and the strategic implementation, but what did we miss when we stopped. I think we're going to have to have those kinds of conversations with a lot of our clients. What are there now gaps in knowledge? What are we gonna have to – how are we gonna have to help them recover? They needed to stop some things. They needed to pull some money back, but what gaps developed as a result of that and how do we show not only the impact of completed research, but the impact of stopped research.
Andrew Cannon: Right. That's a good, Melanie, for you to segue into maybe telling us what you think associations can do to help with that. You set yourself up nicely for the next part of the conversation.
Melanie Courtright: Well, that was my big wow moment. What I would say is as an association, we have a couple of responsibilities here, and I would love to hear from the panel and from the participants. But one of the biggest pieces is promoting understanding, and the way we promote understanding is bringing people together. So understanding the industry, understanding the impact of the pandemic on our sector, on our employment numbers, on the size, so we have a responsibility to create understanding of the industry itself and how it's been impacted. But also of the roles and the pressures that each of these different personas are under and what their jobs are like right now. And then so to promote understanding, to promote excellence, and that's through education and teaching and tools. And that last one is to promote tools. What are the right tools? How do you have these kinds of strategic conversations? And so – and then this conversation about, yes, you should prove business impact of research conducted, but you should also prove it as business not conducted. And then to just advocate at the top of our lungs how important it is to stay close to consumers right now. Because when it's all done, if you've stopped all research and then you try to go out to market like you've been doing research all along, you could make some really big mistakes that would – that could do more harm than had you done at least a little bit of research to carry you through. So I think that's what we're focusing on and what – you know, fostering these kind of conversations, but I'd certainly be interested in what others think that we should be doing as well.
Simon Chadwick: I think that is all very relevant. I like especially your shouting it from the rooftops. I just saw a report today which is projecting that the global market for research and insights, which I think was measured at just under 80 billion last year, is going to lose 18.7 billion of that this year. And to Melanie's point earlier, there's a lot of stuff in there that's not being done. What value can we actually bring to get organizations to have confidence to be able to reinvest and reinvest fast? And I think that's where associations really can help.
Melanie Courtright: That's a great point. We've been talking in our board and association about the importance of helping buyers be confident. How can we do that? How can we show them through case studies that focus groups can be done differently but still be done? How can we show them success stories? How can we show the evolution of the tools, the evolution of the facilities? What does a new facility look like? And so all of those things just help brands be more confident that the research is capable of being done and is predictive for decision making. So, Lisa, I see you nodding your head. What do you think?
Lisa Courtade: Well, I think it's incredibly important. The biggest challenge I've had is not that people don't understand that this is important to do, they don't understand how. And it's easy to talk about it at an academic level but like anything that you would learn, you need to see what good looks like and you need to practice it. And the more examples you see, the more it becomes part of your mindset and how you think. Too many researchers still think in terms of how busy they are and how much activity they've done, how many projects or dollars spent versus what impact did this have on the business. What did I bring to my customers today? So thinking like a business leader instead of a project manager makes a big difference.
Andrew Cannon: That's a fantastic segue and you guys are such a great panel to work with because you're basically teeing yourself up for the next question which is wonderful. So if we can flick to the next slide Melanie. This is really, I think, about if we move towards this future. We've talked about maybe this 20% or 15% of the industry going away but let's talk about how we see the customer and the consumer insights function evolving. So, one of the issues around organization, and this is just around one chart showing that today we're still very much embedded in the marketing organization, many companies. How do you see, Lisa, that evolving as part of the shift to a new world of insights? Is it going to stay there or is it moving already? How do you see this move towards maybe other parts of the organization?
Lisa Courtade: That's a difficult question to answer. I'm going to answer a different question, Andrew.
Andrew Cannon: I love it. Uncontrollable panel on a Friday. Perfect. Go for it.
Lisa Courtade: – that happen with org structures are more political than anything else. But I wouldn't, I know I've seen the studies by BCG and Cambiar and it would be terrific if we all reported directly to the CEO. But we can't use that as an excuse for not doing the kind of work that matters or sitting around waiting and hoping that they're going to realign our organization into those functions because hope is not a strategy. I think the strategy you have to have as an organization is to do the kind of work that gets the attention and support of the executive committee irrespective of where you're sitting in that organization. So, that means if we went back to the lovely pentagon shape that everybody was so excited about was that idea of doing work that sets that strategic direction not just being the team that's delivering the data. The truth is, we have an overabundance of data, what we don't have a whole lot of is the insight and the direction that we need to send the organization in. So, I think that's a lot more work but that's the kind of thing that gets the attention and support that you're looking for.
Andrew Cannon: So, in a good organization it wouldn't matter where you are sitting within that organization. It might be easier to have that remit in other positions but whether we can do that or not, it's not an excuse for not doing anything. Mario, how do you see it from BCG's perspective? Do you see any shift in where insights is sitting? Any shift in processes? Any other organization changes you see in the future?
Mario Simon: I see it as the fundamental question for me is the seat at the table question which is whether it's a normal time or a not normal time, there is a seat at the table question. I think – so I don't know what will happen in the future but this gives a glimpse of opportunity here on the fact that right now many insights leaders are actually having a seat at the table because the understanding of the what is happening, the why it's happening, how will patterns remain the same or shift? How do we insure continuity of the business are key questions that they can help answer and they're at the forefront of that. So, there's a de facto seat at the table opportunity here. Where people report to, I agree 100% with Lisa, often has to do with other dimensions and org views so it's less about that. But I think it is more about taking the opportunity to solidify the seat at the table. So, in a post-2020 sort of environment, those relationships, that engagement, that sort of relationship with the different stakeholders who are at the table only grows and becomes permanent. So, I think that's the opportunity.
Andrew Cannon: Yes, and I just saw this quote here from the 2015 study which talked about a two year transformation of the insights function. I wonder if the current pandemic is speeding that up perhaps and maybe a two year transformation process for insights is a bit slow in the current situation. And we would have more to gain from a quicker transformation.
Lisa Courtade: Andrew, I really believe that the current environment accelerates the journey and it accelerates the journey in whichever way you were moving on that chart. If you were moving more towards traditional or more towards that source of competitive advantage. You have a chance to step up and as Mario has pointed out, have that feed. And even Simon last week talked about consulting companies, the ones that were working on tactics are finding themselves out of business. The ones that are consulting with CEOs on the future strategy are busier than ever. And I think that's true for the insights organizations as well. I know some that have ceased all work because they can't work in this environment because they work they do is very traditional and very tactical. I think the ones that are more business partners and strategic partners are finding that they're overwhelmed with demand.
Andrew Cannon: And that, we're going to bring Camille to talk about that.
Camille Nicita: I was just going to jump in and say that I think that whether you're on the agency side or the client side, having that seat at the table and being a value add to the organization requires us all to think about our jobs as, I hate to use it, but change agents, right? Everything that we do in insights should be leading to influencing some sort of change even if it's a little tiny concept test. You're not doing that concept test to just gain information. The organization is doing it to create a business outcome. So, those of us that are on the agency side, and again, client side too, we should be schooled in the ideas of change management. Even just the basic principles of change management and how to sell an idea because what we're trying to do inside organizations is not unlike marketing an idea to a customer outside of the organization. It's the exact same purchase funnel dynamics, you're just doing it within your organization versus selling it to an outside customer. And essentially it should be easier to sell it inside your organization than outside, right?
Mario Simon: Yes.
Lisa Courtade: Ostensibly.
Andrew Cannon: Right.
Melanie Courtright: If you look in the comments Kirk Stierwalt said, every panel and many suppliers are wanting constant surveys right now but few or none humanize the data, synthesize and identify insights that drive strategy. So, that's really what they're saying we need to do. It's not enough to collect data, we actually have to take that data and turn it into humanized insights that have the power of driving business decisions and business behavior.
Mario Simon: Before we move from the topic of rough transformation I'd like to make an observation here. The transformation agenda for insights in the last few years, maybe five, maybe ten, I felt a lot of it was defensive so it was deficit led. It's like budgets are being cut, sort of the question comes as to what is the ROI? And now there's an opportunity for it to be an offense transformation. So, we are now in the seat because of the situation and we are being asked all these questions from everybody including the CEO and all the functions. And so there is an opportunity to take this into an offensive view of the transformation of insights rather than a sort of defense which I like better. So, I think that that's a nuance that I think is important.
Lisa Courtade: I think that it should be too, whether or not you're a victim. So, you can be a victim of the circumstances or you can change the circumstances.
Simon Chadwick: I think that's very true and I love the concept also that Camille brought forward of us being change agents wherever we work in the industry. But I think it does mean, and I think, Lisa, you would agree, that it means that we have to change how we work. We have to change our own, not only our own behavior, but our own attitudes as well as to who we are and how we interact with management and with stakeholders. This chart here is – it may seem at first that you're not seeing a huge amount of change here but actually if you look at how people expected back in 2019 their jobs to have changed in three years' time, the cumulative change on the right hand side is about nine percentage points towards going to, OK, how do we implement? How do we develop and train? How do we engage stakeholders? How do we evangelize insights? A nine percentage point gain out of a constant sum 100, that is evidence of people trying to change who they are, trying to change the way in which they work. But it's not only about communication and relationships, it's about actually being able to point to business results and say, we had a hand in that. And I think one of the things that if I take Mario's point about being on the defensive. It may be that that's true but I think we're – I don't want to stereotype researchers but we're not always the most forthcoming, hard charging people. And in terms of actually saying we should have credit for this happening, we go, well, there's many things that happened between the research and going to market. And you can't really prove that we had anything. And one of the things I think both Andrew and I say to people is look, it doesn't matter if credit can be shared between you and marketing and sales, and so on. Everybody gets to take the credit. Everybody, and it's not a question of how much of the credit you take, you take it. And you go out there and you say, we had a hand in this. And you become a little bit more aggressive.
Andrew Cannon: Yeah. I agree so much with that. I think here the direction is beautiful. What I'd love to see is maybe a bit more ambition to say, and how can we make that 10%, 20%? What needs to happen agency-wise? What needs to happen with agency partners? What needs to happen with associations to help the insights leaders get their teams to be more on the implementation of insights side where they're really adding value to the process. Maybe that's a type of segue into Camille to talk a little bit about how agencies can really help clients transition to the future of insights and the future role of insights. How that's going to change the relationship and if we can move forward a couple of slides. There's one with a couple of quotes. So, the next slide that people can maybe read while Camille talks about this and see which side of the box. So, two insights leaders talking about their relationships with their partners. But, Camille, tell us about the future of the client/agency relationship.
Camille Nicita: I can tell you about the future in terms of the way that we envision it and, again, it's based on taking our own advice, and that is talking to our clients, talking to our customers and trying to co-create the future with them to be most impactful. And I think really we are relying on three core principles that I think all agencies can rely on. It goes back to that value chain slide that I referenced at the beginning but the three core principles are one, always start with the end in mind. When you're working with your client partner, start with the end in mind. Start with the why versus the what and the how. As much of our ability to influence is going to come through what we don't say as it is through what we say. And the industry expects us to show up talking numbers and methods and how we're going to do it. Most people don't care so start with the business outcome or the business challenge. Helping our client partners to really start with that end in mind and our job is to immerse in our clients business no matter what industry they're in and almost help to be that surrogate decision maker. Truly understanding the journey that data is going to need to take within their organization all the way through to helping them to implement it. And when we think about implementation we can even start to help our client partners think about, OK, to actually implement this idea, what other cross functional areas might need to be brought to the table? And how can we be the bridge to those cross functional areas? Because an insight isn't going to just magically implement on its own. Other people in the organization are going to have to help take that insight to action. That goes back to the statement that I made a few minutes ago about being agents of change. So, I'll skip over that one, I think I said enough there. But then I think the final principle is just knowing our audiences and knowing that in order for the insight to inform strategy and action it needs to be communicated beyond a research audience. And what the researcher or the CMO is going to need to take away from this is going to be different than what a designer or a product developer might need to implement it. Or what the C suite needs to know in terms of how we've helped implement and impact the business. And if we can start all of this with, again, end in mind, that's how you start to link the what we did with business outcomes. Because you can literally start with, OK, the business outcome we're looking for with this project, with this engagement, start there. Document it so at the end of the project you can come back and start to see, did we fulfill on this? Did we let stakeholders know that we fulfilled on it? It's not enough just to fulfill on it, you have to evangelize the fact that we fulfilled on it, that we helped drive business outcome and help our client partners keep track of that. They've got other things to do, we can help them keep track of that so that at the end of the quarter, the end of the year we can say, look what you did for the organization.
Andrew Cannon: Lisa, maybe you can – can you build on that from your client peers and how you're seeing agencies actually behaving and how that's going to change a bit in the future in your opinion?
Lisa Courtade: I was going to say what she said which was fantastic. Unfortunately, it doesn't always happen that way. I think the important thing is to realize that true partners share risk and reward and they hold each other accountable. So, there are many agencies and you're got some quotes there that just want more studies. The conversation that begins with, can you give me more trackers, I know is not going to go anywhere because it's all about volume, it's not around impact. And the companies, the agencies that do share in that risk and reward to help build new capabilities, to help manage the story and help drive the impact are the ones that I gravitate to and that I see other teams gravitating to because they want to have a strong partner. It's a long race and you earn that respect, you earn that opportunity to keep coming back. I do think another really valuable thing that agencies can bring are learning to cross other industries. A lot of the challenges that we face today might be unique to us but chances are somebody else has already seen it and solved it, or solved it maybe in a slightly different way but what can we learn from their experiences? I love learning from other people. I make plenty of my own mistakes but if I can learn from somebody else's, I can go make some new ones.
Andrew Cannon: Right, and there's a lot of things just around thought leadership, that's something that I often hear from end clients is that why don't agencies provide them with more out of project thought leadership, more sort of insights, more knowledge not just related to that project. And now maybe through this COVID-19 situation there is more possibility. There's a lot of webinars going obviously but there's a lot of opportunities for agencies to provide clients with thought leadership. But maybe we'll just wrap up the conversation before we get into some questions with just Melanie and Lisa talking about how you think associations can play a role in helping us demonstrate and publicize the impact of insights and its potential impact.
Melanie Courtright: Conversations like these are really helpful. I think making more conversations like these happen, keeping them going, having people from all walks of the industry in the same digital room, or meeting room, or eventually hopefully in this room having these discussions about what works. I think that we could get some – share best practices and success stories. We've done that in the past but continue. But then I think that what might be really helpful is to define what does business impact look like from like if a CFO is trying to decide, did it drive impact? Helping put some numbers tools together. And then even what – one of the questions that we have here is should we be doing strategic account reviews? What does a successful strategic account review look for someone that's as busy as Lisa? What would be a good use of her time? What would help her advocate more as she's putting her budget together? What are the things that we could put in front of people at budgeting time that would help them drive the perception of business impact? Put tool kits together, that's a tall order, by the way, so I'm not suggesting that we'll have that out next week but that sort of process I think would be really helpful. Lisa, what do you think?
Lisa Courtade: I do think GRBN has put together a nice tool kit. I will give you a plug there, Andrew.
Andrew Cannon: Thank you.
Lisa Courtade: The challenge in it is that you have to practice it and it's not going to be a 100% fit for everybody or every project. The really wonderful thing about the work that we do is that it is so diverse across different businesses, across qual and quant and digital. There are long strategic projects that take months, years, and then there are very short ones. And how they get measured can look very, very different but it's more around how we communicate what we do and the impact that that has on the business. I will say there are better ways to do strategic account reviews, that again goes back to that idea of mutual accountability and sharing, and both the risk and the reward to identify what are the opportunities and what is the fit between the cool idea that you have and the big problem that I have and do those belong together? Is this the right solution? And what will it take to operationalize that to bring down the financial and the business risk and make it a worthwhile venture for both of us? So, I think I'd say these do bring people together and they bring those ideas and examples together.
Andrew Cannon: Yeah. One of the questions that came in that's interesting, maybe Mario you can take this one. It's the look at the role of the future and scenario planning. How we're seeing that. We talked a lot about the future but I think as an industry, can we do more to step up our game in scenario planning? Mario or Camille.
Mario Simon: Yes, that's good. I think there are many ways to think about that and what I see many clients do is to sort of really take a multidimensional view and I think that's where – I think there was a comment from someone about humanizing, so taking all of the elements that constitute that humanizing component and then marrying that to the business component. So the scenario planning has to have an overlay of what are potential outcomes from an economic standpoint so whether it's a V or a swoosh or a W or whatever it is. So, some of those parameters that are more economical. It has to do a lot with the sort of business side and how actually the business serves its customers in different ways and what are their scenarios in that. And then the third component I think is, as you mentioned, the whole psychological and human dimension of patterns and behaviors. What is stable and what is going to change? And then to drive it to implementation I think is also one of the activation levers. So if the model in the scenario doesn't have the activation levers, whether those are pricing, whether they're accelerating digital, whether those are different points of distribution, all of those things need to be taken into account so that these scenarios are not only, OK, this is how the business will look and this is potentially how the revenue will look, et cetera and so on. But also a real forward leaning to, OK, this is what an organization needs to do more of. Needs to shift resources from these channels to those or from these levers to those. And I think that's where it seems to work really well and that's when the discussion is a really heated discussion at the table.
Andrew Cannon: Camille, can you add to that?
Camille Nicita: I think the way that I think about scenario planning is very much with the human first. It's just how I think about things in general which is why I'm in the business that I am, and that human dimension requires the business side of the dimension and the customer side of the dimension. And really insight's role is to bring the outside into the organization whether that be through competitive perspective, the customer voice, market perspective, our role is to bring the outside in. But that outside meets the reality of the internal organization. And so we have to be cognizant of the symbiosis that happens between the outside in perspective and the inside out. Those things, like if you thought of an infinity diagram that goes like this, those things have to constantly be feeding each other because the inside of the organization doesn't stay static either. There's new leaders that come into place, people fall out of insights and go somewhere else with all of the knowledge that they learned about the consumer in their heads so those two things just have to constantly be feeding each other. And we see organizations that are most successful with implementing customer understanding into their processes and truly operationalizing it are the ones that really do believe in this symbiosis and actually, for lack of a better word, just have the organizational structure mindset and readiness to accept consumer information into their systems and processes and know that it's always going to be needed to be updated and informed by the outside. So, whatever scenarios there are, they have to be informed by the consumer but also be thought of in the context of the organizational structure and dynamics of the corporation. And every organization is different, right? The internal dynamics of Lisa's company is going to be completely different than the organization of another pharmaceutical company. So, it doesn't even matter my industry.
Andrew Cannon: Which segues me right into a last question which is going to be a very quick one for Melanie and Lisa before we wrap up, which is one of the questions from the audience around points of view. It's an old joke that if you want 1000 answers ask 100 researchers. So, we have opinions, right? We've got more than enough opinions. Should we as an industry have a point of view on impact when it comes to insights and innovation, when it comes to insights and marketing? Can we formulate some strong statements that we can push out to the world to demonstrate our impact in different areas of business? Melanie, Lisa, you can answer this and then Melanie you can wrap up and take us home please.
Melanie Courtright: Lisa, you want to go ahead?
Lisa Courtade: I have lots of strong opinions. I don't know that we would necessarily want to make any one of them the one for the Insights Association. The question was a little vague for me but when it comes to insights we shouldn't be doing work that doesn't have a business impact. If we're just admiring the problem and we're not changing the direction, why are we doing it? So, I would ask that question, because otherwise we're just a call center and call centers are easy to get rid of, particularly in tough times, we know that. I like innovation, that was an interesting question but I think we also have to adapt and leverage the technology and the different means that our customers want to communicate with us and use those foreign sites. Not be afraid of them but embrace them and make them part of how we operate. Is that strong enough?
Andrew Cannon: Perfect. Lovely, thank you, Lisa.
Melanie Courtright: Yes, I agree, the associations' role overall, both GRBN and Insights Association is to advocate for the principles of impact. To advocate for prescribing the need for impact but not to be descriptive in exactly how individuals can measure that impact, just the importance of measuring it period. We can be really helpful in bringing people together to talk about ideas and helping because even the measurement of business impact can be a competitive advantage for people. So, in general, we advocate for the best research practice, research measurement, research excellence, and measuring impact but we don't necessarily bring forward a single way of doing any of those. But we're not afraid to say, well that's not a good way. I think our biggest job, again, is to just bring people together to, Simon, shout from the mountaintops about the importance of insights, the importance of staying very close to the population so that we don't make big mistakes and the importance of measuring impact. And we'll just keep doing that.
Andrew Cannon: Everybody on the panel has done a fantastic job at doing that today so maybe we end with just saying, let's continue shouting from the rooftops over the weekend and beyond about all the great work we're all doing. Melanie, close us off please.
Melanie Courtright: Will do, and we do have some things coming and GRBN, as we mentioned, does have a business impact series that people can plug into if they want some additional ideas. And the Insights Association will continue to put opportunities in front of people to think about how to measure business impact. So, be on the lookout for that. Also, don't forget that the next conference is coming up June 1st through the 3rd and that it's free to all IA members and quite reasonable for non-members. We're being able to offer that free through the generous contributions of some sponsors, and so we really hope that for every company that can normally only send one or two people because of the travel implications, that you'll send your entire staff to some of this. It's a real opportunity to train a lot of people at once. So, I hope you'll do that. Also, our next town hall is actually on Wednesday next week because of the holiday weekend in the US. It is on virtual town hall reopening insights, both the concept of restarting some advertising campaigns with Joel Rubinson that might have been stopped. And then reopening our offices and our facilities, some very cool stories about the actual restarting of facility work that are very inspiring. A reminder, we'll keep doing these as needed and then I thank you all for your time and your energy. And if you need anything remember you can reach out to me anytime. Twitter, LinkedIn, text me, call me, email me, email@example.com. We are here to support you so thank you to the panelists. Thank you, Lisa. Thank you, Camille. Thank you, Andrew. Thank you, Mario. And thank you, Simon. I really appreciate your time today.
Simon Chadwick: Thank you.
Mario Simon: Thank you.
Andrew Cannon: Have a great weekend, everybody.
Lisa Courtade: Thank you.
Simon Chadwick: Have a good one.
Andrew Cannon: Bye.
Melanie Courtright: Have a good weekend. Bye.
Andrew Cannon: Bye-bye.