Irrespective of your industry, your competitive position tomorrow is determined by your ability to generate insights today. How does your organization spot the trends that are just beyond the horizon? How do you enlist your employees in the data analysis of tomorrow's competitive landscape? No matter what role an employee plays within your organization, they are all able to generate insights into the changing nature of your marketplace.

At first glance, the term "insight" appears laden with ambiguous meanings; consultant's jargon with little concrete application in management practice. To translate the term into actionable terms, it is worthwhile to look at several of the definitions provided by Dictionary.com:

1. An understanding of relationships that sheds light on or helps solve a problem.
2. An instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding.
3. Penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.
4. An understanding of the motivational forces behind one's actions, thoughts, or behavior; self-knowledge

To understand insight's role within your organization, let us first take a look at the first definition quoted above. The key word in this definition is often used as a synonym for "insight": understanding. A colleague has an "insight" when he has an understanding that helps the company achieve its goal. In this sense, literally any employee within your organization – from the factory floor to the C-level suite – can and should have "insights" that help them do their jobs.

Understanding this principle is the first step to maximizing your insight productivity: every single employee in your organization should be constantly finding new insights that help them do their jobs. The nature of these insights depends on the nature of that individual's role within the organization. In discussing companies' managerial practices with executives, it becomes clear that there are three practical types of insight that an employee can have.

Process Insights – any employee, at any position within the enterprise, can have process insights. A process insight stems from the first definition listed above. Process insights are back-office oriented, representing the "internal know-how" relating to the processes within your organization. It is the unspoken practice the understanding of which lets employees optimize the efficiency of your workflow. Process insights are often used when re-designing internal systems to align them with your organization's way of doing things.

Interaction Insights – interaction insights lie in the domain of your organization's front-office, including sales, customer support, supply-chain management or professional services. An interaction insight stems from the fourth definition listed. It is that understanding of which factors, arguments or approaches can deliver the optimal result in a one-on-one interaction with some outside party. Whether it is a salesperson's insight into which arguments will convince a customer to buy, or a logistics manager's insight into which warehouse operator's cross-docking operations need greater optimization, interaction insights are a micro factor: getting them right throughout your enterprise will ultimately lead to outsized macro returns.

Market Insights – market insights lie at a more macro level of strategic understanding, bridging the third and fourth definitions listed above. Market insights are strategic or corporate insights, typically lying in the hands of corporate management, the marketing department and product or brand managers within your business units. A market insight is the understanding of trends in the competitive and customer marketplace, and how they affect your business. Examples of market insights include determining opportunities or threats to varying product lines within your organization or identifying unexploited branding positions.

Executives seeking to maximize insight productivity at the micro and the macro level should enable each employee within the enterprise to easily generate and apply their insights to their work. Do not underestimate the impact of micro-level insights within your organization. The long tail of micro-insights can deliver powerful macro returns for your company. Managers should be asking themselves what types of insights apply within their business and create an environment in which these can flourish.

About ChartSearch
This article was provided by ChartSearch. ChartSearch is a newly launched enterprise technology company which helps businesses maximize insight productivity through the use of a first-of-its-kind numerical search engine and real-time business intelligence platform. With ChartSearch, businesses can find and extract research data on-demand, then automatically visualize it in a readily accessible form. For more information, please visit www.chartsearch.net.

Author's Bio: 

R.L. Fielding Bio
R.L. Fielding is a freelance writer who has written on a wide variety of topics, with special expertise in the education, pharmaceutical and healthcare, financial service and manufacturing industries.