LONDON: Businesses need to adopt an integrated approach to insight, if research is to drive business impact, according to a new study.

The Market Research Society analysed the findings from a self-assessment research questionnaire which asked 109 client-side organisations to select where their insight team operated as regards various issues, ranging from the championing of the consumer to using insight to drive internal change.

The subsequent report, Towards an insight-driven organisation, showed that those client-side insight teams having most impact on their business and organisations were likely to be integrating research data with other sources, ensuring customer metrics were part of the key KPIs for their organisation, and working in an effective partnership model with their suppliers.

But these were in a minority, as the report observed that "research teams still have some way to go to achieve this goal".

For example, just 17% of those surveyed were able to say they actively championed the consumer voice, suggesting that many clients spend much of their time juggling a plethora of inbound briefs from the business rather than playing a role in proactively identifying customer issues or opportunities for the organisation.

Less than one in four claimed to develop insight which was directive and helped to prioritise action and to be embedding insights effectively through business strategy and tactics.

The study hypothesised that this is linked to an inability to directly link research to business goals: only 14% of participants claimed to have achieved a sense of tacit importance of 'customer' in most things that are done within their business.

Similarly, 43% claimed that measurement of customer impacts currently had a limited impact on decision making.

But those clients who worked with suppliers in either a strategic partnership or portfolio arrangement were far more likely to have a stronger influence on the organisation, with 78% claiming to influence the organisation on customer impact, compared to 29% of clients who didn't work with suppliers in this structured manner.

Simple technical expertise is not enough to drive business impact, the report concluded; achieving that "takes a far more joined-up approach both in terms of our ability to integrate data but also in terms of the ability of the whole research and insight ecosystem to work collaboratively together."

Data sourced from MRS; additional content by Warc staff