Transformation continues to sweep its way through the marketing function and no "department" within the function is exempt from change. For this month's CMO Advisor newsletter, we are now focused on the market intelligence area.
Compared to its peer departments, Market Intelligence (MI) enjoys relative stability, as measured by the steadiness of the job description, job security and tenure, and budgets. But there is a groundswell of change -- or at least an expressed desire for change. In a recent survey of MI professionals, IDC observes that MI executives are seeking to increase the value they deliver to the organizations they support, and to deliver that value with greater efficiency.
Indeed, it is the sentiment of executives that IDC interviewed that "The market intelligence organization will change more in the next 3 years than it has changed in the past 10 years". That is a bold statement. To peel it back, here are the top areas of change that the MI profession is seeking to transform.
- MI executives want to transform their client engagement model and become more "proactive". In IDC's opinion, this sentiment stems from MI's traditional challenge of being a demand-driven organization that is constantly working in "response mode" to numerous requests from their internal customers.
- The MI area seeks to increase its contributions to corporate strategy and sales enablement.
- From a process and technology standpoint, MI would like to improve the information "value chain", from data sourcing to information delivery.
- MI seeks to provide greater support for long-range business planning.
- MI seeks to demonstrate more visible / tangible business value for its work output.
Our sense is that MI professionals have a good future vision of their role; one where they are highly efficient, driving strategic as well as tactical business value, and are highly valued by their internal clients across the organization for information and "insights" that positively influence business outcomes.
There are two areas that I believe are the best place for MI Transformation steps to begin. These are echoed by my colleagues at IDC and also validated by our surveys with MI executives. I will describe these and also take a bit of "analyst license" and provide some operational suggestions.
1. Improving support for corporate strategy and long term business decisions. I think that MI professionals would love to get out of the heavy load of short-time, fast response calls for bits and bites of data. What they would like to do is be involved in longer term, meatier analysis that is served at higher levels in the organization and that support important business outcomes. But MI is constrained by their people and processes.
The process changes I would suggest would be first; provide more technology and training for self-service for the run-rate of short and tactical requests. Second, consider greater off-shoring or right-shoring of the "back office" analysis roles within MI, and thereby create more roles for higher level "management – consulting" type MI personnel who can interface with executives for the longer-cycle, more complex projects.
By the way, on the right-shoring of MI tasks (moving the non-client facing anayltical tasks to lower cost countries), many of the largest tech vendors are on this march right now.
2. Sales Enablement. In IDC's many surveys of Selling Productivity, we see that very high salaried sales executives spend a large amount of their time searching for or re-creating information that will support their preparation. OK, so what function in the organization that is NOT the sales function is good at finding and organizing and delivering information? Market Intelligence! I think it would be a natural for the MI area to provide greater and more cost effective support for many sales-preparation activities. As an example, almost every MI function has a portal for serving and managing information assets. Why couldn't those same portals – or a version thereof – be used for sales assets? The time spent on searching for information assets is one of the most wasted and most common activities of salespeople.
Recently, I have been writing on similar transformations in related business units such as marketing operations, and we are also seeing some related changes taking place within sales operations. For every part of the marketing organization, the pressure is on to be efficient and drive positive business outcomes. IDC believes that there is a bright future ahead for MI leaders (and their teams) that understand the transformation that is under way and can begin that journey with concrete and bold new steps.