Big Changes Will Deliver a Big Future: What marketing decision-makers expect their customer insight teams to deliver

Adam Riley and David Smith
DVL Smith

Business consultancy skills for customer insight professionals

The debate about whether market researchers should broaden their skill set to operate more as 'trusted business advisors' has rumbled on for a number of years. Some take the view that this is an irrelevant discussion because market research is a totally different function from the space occupied by management consultants. They argue that customer insight professionals should not be side-tracked with this debate about 'becoming consultants'.

Others argue that we have, by evolution, seen customer insight professionals move beyond being project and data-centric into operating now more as 'strategic advisors'. They would point to the progress that has been made, particularly by many internal client customer insight departments, along the four stages of customer insight that the Boston Consultancy Group has outlined. This analysis tells us that the industry over the years has moved from its 'traditional research-based data gathering role', through the second stage of stepping up to make a 'contribution to business problems', and is well into the third phase of providing 'strategic insight', with some now about to make the leap to the highest level - offering 'strategic foresight'. This is about being the eyes and ears of the organisation and guiding it through constant change.