The paradox of insights tech

2 May 2022

Insights tech is essential, but it’s not the point.

5 min read
5 min read
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Coming from the CEO and co-founder of an insights tech company, what you’re about to read might surprise you. But here it is: 

Insights tech is essential, but it’s not the point. 

It’s what I call the paradox of insights tech. 

The tech itself isn’t a destination–it’s a vehicle. And the vehicle can’t drive itself. 

At the same time, the vehicle can have a large impact on how efficient, safe, comfortable, and fun the journey is. If that vehicle breaks down, you can technically walk to your destination. But if that destination is 500 miles away, it’s going to be a long walk. 

You see, there is a sort of symbiotic relationship between technology and humans (even if the technology itself isn’t actually alive). And when this relationship is balanced, there is a bounty of benefits to reap. 

In this article, I’ll explore 3 ways the right technology can make insights work more human-centric. 

1)  Removing obstacles 

I could bore you with stats here, but why should I? I’m sure reminding you of that very specific stakeholder request that’s sitting in your inbox is enough. 

Two of the challenges we commonly hear about from insights teams are 1) that they’re outnumbered by stakeholder requests and 2) that it’s often difficult to find research/insights that they know exist. 

And if you multiply these two challenges by each other, the result is a major headache. Because working through stakeholder requests efficiently is going to be difficult if it takes you forever to find the insights they’re requesting. 

The right insights platform can help to mitigate these challenges in several ways: enabling self-service access, centralising insights, simplifying insights sharing, and cutting back on admin time required to keep those insights organised in the first place. 

In other words: the right tech makes insights work more human-centric by removing daily frustrations. 

2)  Supporting human expertise

Part of what makes those frustrations so irritating is that they take up valuable time and energy. Time and energy that could be much better spent on complex work that requires human expertise. 

With obstacles like those mentioned above reduced, there’s more time to focus on what actually matters. 

For example, most organisations want to devote more time to ambitions like building a knowledge culture, championing consumer centricity, or focusing on advanced applications like foresight. 

While technology can absolutely support these types of initiatives, it cannot replace the skills required to deliver on them. Creating change on an organisational level requires human expertise and judgment. 

So the right tech also makes insights work more human-centric by enabling the humans in your organisation to apply their expertise and fulfil their potential.

3)  Fostering flexibility 

When talking with customers of ours and other industry leaders, it’s become abundantly clear how the right technology, and in particular the right insights platform, makes it possible to move between goals effectively. 

Because the reality is that many of the goals that today’s insights teams are prioritising, like democratising insights, fostering consumer centricity, elevating the role of insights, or generating foresight, are interconnected. 

I’ve started to think of this constellation as an “insights habitat”. In order for an organisation to realise the full potential of their insights, those insights need an environment in which they can thrive. 

This environment is a thoughtful combination of technology, human processes, and creativity, where the contribution of insights can be maximised to meet the requirements of any scenario. Which, as we’ve learned over the last few years, is an absolutely essential business capability. 

Technology can alert you of change and help you respond to it quickly, but deciding how to respond is something that is best left to humans.

The paradox of (insights) tech

The pace at which technology is evolving means that it currently is and will inevitably continue becoming an increasing part of our work lives. In fact, for many of us working in geographically dispersed, hybrid, or fully remote teams, our workplaces have become partially or fully digital. 

And as tech continues to become a bigger part of our lives, more questions will arise around our relationship with it and the subsequent impacts on our wellbeing. 

This journey can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. A simple solution lies in putting humans first. 

And paradoxically, to achieve that, companies need to be tech-forward. 

Insights teams are in a unique position to show organisations and consumers what’s possible: by influencing the creation of human-centric products, experiences, campaigns, and solutions through human-centric ways of working. 

Want to learn more about human-centric insights management?

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Thor Olof Philogène
CEO and Co-Founder at Stravito