All the knowledge in the world will do nothing for you if you don’t use it to act.
That’s why wisdom—synthesizing knowledge to predict future outcomes and take action—is so important when it comes to customer insights. On the DIKW pyramid, wisdom is only one of four layers. It’s also the smallest layer. Given this, it’s natural to think that as an Insights Manager only a small portion of your time should be dedicated to translating knowledge into wisdom.
But as Jim Kwik, author of Limitless, says, “If knowing is half the battle, action is the second half of the battle.”
Wisdom is the bedrock of true customer insights. All the data, information, and knowledge you’ve been gathering and synthesizing should ultimately lead to wise action. If it doesn’t, you’ll be missing out on a lot of value.
Determining the correct action to take is the reason for gathering customer insights in the first place.
The DIKW pyramid problem
Many customer insights managers would argue that the DIKW pyramid is outdated and flawed—and ultimately useless—because it may not be getting them the results they need.
But instead of discarding it entirely, it’s time to modify it for a new era of customer insights. A pyramid implies you climb to the top and then you’re done. You’ve achieved your goal. You’ve reached the peak. But that’s not how customer insights work.
Maybe instead of viewing the DIKW as a pyramid, it’s time to start thinking of it as a cycle.
Qlik was on to something when they wrote that, “Insight is a cycle; not a mountaintop destination.” Their argument is that businesses are so dynamic they can’t just arrive at wisdom and be done. Qlik also argues that the pyramid should actually be inverted—customer insights teams should spend far more time focused on synthesizing wisdom than on gathering Data or Information.
They’re right on both counts.
Wisdom isn’t a state you achieve, it’s a way of life. Once you’ve gleaned wisdom, you put that wisdom to work driving an improved customer experience or product offering. As time goes on, you repeat the cycle by gathering more data and information, forming it into knowledge, and generating more wisdom.
Devoting more time and energy to wisdom also makes sense. Feedback analytics tools like Kapiche are reducing the time it takes to collect and integrate customer insights data—even from multiple sources—by as much as 97%. All of those hours saved should get diverted to synthesizing knowledge and finding wisdom.
When you focus too much on just data and information, you:
- Struggle to explain why NPS and CSAT scores are changing over time.
- Struggle to spot emerging issues or growth opportunities that will impact your organization in the future.
- Can’t easily predict future trends in customer behavior.
Understanding wisdom as the goal of customer insights—the foundation upon which everything else stands—solves all these problems.
How to start making wisdom the focus of your customer insights team
On the DIKW pyramid, knowledge synthesized into predictions and action equals wisdom. There are several steps you can take to begin turning your mountains of customer data into the wisdom needed to move your executive team to buy-in and action.
1. Use wisdom to tell memorable stories
Peter Harris, CEO at Bastion Insights, sees telling memorable stories as a requirement for insights success.
It’s a situation every Insights Manager is painfully familiar with: You’ve got enough data to know what actions need to be taken, but you struggle to get buy-in.
Humans—including executives—are story-driven creatures. Sharing trending NPS or CSAT data isn’t enough to drive emotional buy-in. Instead, leverage the data and information you’ve collected to tell a story that people connect with. In our experience, sharing stories about an individual customer’s experience is the most powerful way to engage your executives. Use stories to answer questions like these:
- Where are your customers feeling pain?
- How will the actions you’re suggesting address that pain?
- How will they delight your customers?
- How will they impact your business?
Translating data into engaging stories will make your executive team sit up and take notice.
2. Create a sense of urgency
Qlik says, “The most important contribution analytics can make to a decision isn’t the decision itself, but the implementation.”
Creating urgency around needed change can be even more important than simply presenting change itself. In many organizations, people already know what needs to change, but typically executives just don’t feel enough of a sense of urgency to commit to implementing the necessary change. And you won’t inspire that sense of urgency unless you go all the way to the wisdom stage of the DIKW pyramid.
Wisdom helps you make confident predictions about future customer needs and outcomes. It helps you see the future, which you can use to create a sense of urgency.
The future is coming. Will your organization be prepared for it?
3. Treat wisdom like the beginning of a new cycle
You’re never done with customer insights. When you’ve convinced your team to take action, you’re not finished. You start the cycle over again.
But as Ryan Stuart, our Founder and CEO, said in a recent interview, “You’re not starting from a blank slate every time you go looking for answers in data.”
Ryan emphasizes that it’s the duty of insights teams to look back on the knowledge and insights they’ve accumulated previously, digest those insights, and then present new knowledge and wisdom to the organization.
Again, think about the DIKW stages as a cycle. With each complete journey through the cycle you gain a new level of wisdom. That wisdom colors your next journey through the cycle, over and over.
Wisdom is the key
Wisdom is the bedrock of true customer insights because it leads organizations to take action. These actions drive real-world outcomes.
The DIKW pyramid isn’t perfect—nothing ever is. But modifying it to focus on wisdom and viewing it as a cycle makes it far more relevant to modern customer insight teams.
If you’re ready to start generating meaningful insights that drive revenue growth and long term success for your company, book a demo of Kapiche today.
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