marketing intelligenceBig data, predictive analytics, digital marketing, and the digital age are two-edged swords. They present exciting new capabilities in addition to myriad challenges in our capacity to derive their full potential. Being intelligence-minded is about reaping the full potential of your company’s intelligence.

Intelligence Gaps
What holds us back from our potential are the usual suspects of the people, process, and technology trinity.  While technology tools abound, the people and process aspects of being intelligence-minded are often under-served.

Take this quick self-assessment to determine the pain of under-serving the intelligence-minded needs of your people and processes.  Place a “5” in the space provided if this characteristic happens regularly, a “3” to indicate that it occasionally occurs, and a “0” if it never occurs. How often is your marketing organization experiencing these characteristics?


____ If decision-making is by consensus, our people get stuck in analysis paralysis

____ If consensus is not important, managers tend to push decisions down to individuals, and often lack accountability and synchronization of efforts

____ Due to difficulties mobilizing support of a decision, silos are relied upon for decisions


____ Our people have a weak sense of what they know and do not know

____ We do a weak job of documenting what led us to be successful or to fall short

____ We have low propensity to learn from experience

____ Our people do not see reality clearly, in terms of the dynamic nature of how business operates

____ We are surprised by unexpected elements

Systematic Approach
____ We get overwhelmed by the data we have

____ There is a tendency to operate in a hap-hazard way

____ A lack of integrated approach creates black holes

____ TOTAL

A score greater than 10 indicates that intelligence-minded gaps are holding your marketing organization back from its full potential. A score greater than 25 indicates severe under-use of your precious people and process resources, which is likely resulting in significant wasted costs, time, energy, and turnover.

Intelligence Gains
The ultimate advantage of being intelligence-minded is heightened capability to “seize the day” (carpe diem).  To achieve your marketing organization’s full potential value, your team must be able to know an opportunity when they see it, be agile to respond quickly, and be prepared for multiple contingencies. This is marketing agility. Ideally, this means that intelligence collected by the marketing organization is also streamed constructively to all the other functions in the company, to collectively respond quickly to opportunities. This is corporate agility.

Openness:  Intelligence-minded organizations have a much clearer sense of direction. They let business intelligence guide them rather than allow bias.  Bias promoted rigidity — not agility.  They know how to ask the right kinds of questions to get insights into trends, elicit customer desires, interpret buying triggers, and test assumptions.

Synergy:  They learn on-the-job as a team, not just as individuals, making the whole organization smarter.  They have strong ability to prioritize what to do, build a business case, create a roadmap, get others onboard, and follow-through on their plan with united effort.

Value-Add:  Intelligence-minded organizations put the customer at the center of their intelligence and subsequent decision-making and actions.  Customer-centered structure of intelligence provides context to spur value-added innovations across your company.

What it Takes to Be Intelligence-Minded
Technology is a great enabler of business and marketing intelligence, but it’s not a be-all, end-all.  A critical prerequisite to effective application of technology is what we do in aligning people and processes.

Respect:  Dealing in intelligence is an ongoing change management process, and each individual has different needs to embrace it.  Humility and patience are essential investments in accepting what the data says, taking responsibility to drive toward a solution, and in appreciating the contributions of teammates and of other groups.

Transparency: To be intelligence-minded, everyone must be willing to question their own assumptions and help others surface their assumptions that underlie the world view that causes them to lean one way or another. Be willing to speak up and point out the elephant in the middle of the room that is holding up the team’s success.  Make the commitment to look reality square in the face and constantly refine your understanding of reality. This enables everyone to understand the full context and rationale for decisions.

Tips to Become Intelligence-Minded

  • Ask thoughtful questions: why? Who?
  • Bracket every process with learning
  • Build-in time for allowing data, processes, and people to sync
  • Find the right balance between thinking strategically and doing the tactics
  • Value both thinking and feeling as inputs and for adoption
  • Think about desired outcomes, big-picture, milestones, and contingencies