Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast! Sima is excited to have Mike Stevens, the Founder of Insight Platforms, as her guest for today’s show. Mike is joining Sima today to talk about his company, Insight Platforms, and discuss the changes happening in the data and insights space.
About Insight Platforms
Insight Platforms was originated as a directory of platforms for insights, software, and data tools, across the spectrum of market research, UX research, CX research, and analytics.
The Genesis of Insight Platforms
Mike has always worked in the intersection between insight, marketing strategy, and technology. The genesis of Insight Platforms was Mike’s consulting business, where he did lots of advisory work around digital transformation. A surprising number of new startups were happening in that space, so he built a directory.
In the late 1990s, Mike started his career working in a niche boutique marketing strategy consulting business, helping people create strategies for getting into new markets. He worked for several other consultancies after that. He then spent a few years working with a Canadian software business formerly known as Vision Critical and later rebranded to Alida. After leaving that company a few years ago, he set up on his own as an independent consultant.
Enterprise insight market research teams have been under various kinds of pressures. They have been pressured to work faster, be more agile, and have more influence, and there has also been a gradual erosion of who owns the knowledge about the customers.
A data science component
Much of Mike’s initial client base were teams looking to upskill, harness technology, change the skills mix in their teams, and bring a data science component into their primary research skill base. They also wanted to adapt their operating models to be continuous providers of data and insights.
Three sides to the market
There are three sides to the market: They are enterprise buyers, service providers and agencies, and technology providers with whom agencies and enterprise clients will have relationships.
The changing landscape
Technology companies need help with their go-to-market strategies and expansion. Agencies also need help with figuring out what their likely proposition will be within the changing landscape. That creates fertile ground for strategy consulting, which is both interesting and rewarding.
Mike enjoys working with teams who are keen to embrace change and want genuine help to get there.
The new insight model
Although there is a lot of fear and discomfort in any rapidly-changing market, things are starting to shape up right now in the area of new insight models. There are a lot of opportunities available for those who want them.
We are generating an abundance of data currently across many mechanisms, consumer groups, and locations. As a result, some of the challenges in this exponential age will be about processing abundance rather than scarcity.
New data sources
There are currently many new and different types of data sources. The various starting points will result in different takes on the data and insights business.
An interesting trend
A trend is that more people are getting more hands-on with research and insights data. A lot of decision-making is currently due to customer-driven data.
A layered approach
The craft of understanding methodology and putting data into the correct perspective has now become one layer within a multi-layered approach to analyzing data.
An evolutionary process
The data industry is undergoing an evolutionary process. The different layers should become more clarified over the next ten to fifteen years.
Mike distilled the complexity that he saw initially into about thirty different categories of software and data tools. It became apparent to him, however, that that was insufficient for the breadth and complexity of the data, and people also needed a more granular system. So Insight Platforms now has 350 different categories.
Insight Platforms is currently doing a lot of work in language processing. They are also busy with customer experience analytics tools, which cover digital behavior and an analysis of what people are saying in their feedback to call centers and reviews. They are building tools to monitor the main themes, topics, and sentiments over time.
There has recently been an explosion of research management and research repository tools for UX research.
Automated testing solutions
The adoption of automated testing solutions is still relatively in its infancy. Some big companies, like Pepsi, have automated much of their testing. But many companies are still edging their way towards more efficient and automated ways of doing things and have a long way to go.
There are three pillars to how Mike’s business operates. They are the directory business, events, and learning.
The learning pillar
Their ambition with the learning pillar is to build it out to have a good selection of highly specialized courses available for the digital insights business, on LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, or Coursera.
Mike has always been amazed at how much money and how much budget share gets spent on trackers. He has been horrified at the lack of meaningful movement from quarter to quarter in some ways that trackers got set up. However, he does see a future in continuous data and insight into brand performance.