In my December column, we examined the life cycle that organizations go through to transform data into action: data, information, insight, strategy and action. This month's column focuses on the insight aspect of the life cycle. Insight provides the key metrics with which organizations can monitor and evaluate themselves. At the end of the day, most people simply want to know what is working and what is not working. Insight allows organizations to develop the key metrics and the key reports utilizing the right communication vehicle (dashboard, portal, e-mail, cell phone, etc.) to understand what needs improvement, further investment or a complete overhaul. From a customer intelligence (CI) perspective, insight means understanding what is driving customer demand, loyalty, purchase size, repeat purchases, visits/traffic or satisfaction. Insight helps evaluate sales, service and marketing strategies that drive profitable customer acquisition and retention.

Several guiding principles can help you develop a competitive insight capability at your organization. As I am writing this directly after Thanksgiving, let's use the Thanksgiving meal as a recurring example to see how you can drive loyalty to your Thanksgiving guests. This column, of course, assumes that you want your guests to come back.

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