Context Consulting

Latest Thinking

Insight Harvesting – Turning your existing data into valuable insight.

Given the complexity of large organisations it’s of little surprise that they struggle to ‘know what they know’. So many studies and reports are commissioned by different individuals, in different units and for different reasons. The result is fragmented insight and limited business value.

It’s our belief and experience that clients can derive more value from their existing data if they take a structured, rigorous approach to reviewing it.

Of course, it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.  But it’s possible and worthwhile, we recently helped a global Telco player to distil learnings from over 100 separate ad hoc studies carried out over 2 years into a single management action plan.

Done right, and based on solid hypotheses, patterns always emerge. It’s the connections between insights that contain the real value … and of course those unexpected nuggets.

To get the most of your existing data we have developed a simple 4 step approach 

Plan: Develop scope and clear objectives

  • Identify business questions.

  • Set research objectives.

  • Agree initial hypotheses.

  • Define scope: ie, Customer types, Regions / Countries, Product areas etc.

  • Identify source material: i.e., tracking data, dashboards, sales data, syndicated reports, purchased studies, reports and ad hoc work (most businesses will have some if not all of these materials)

Source & Organise: Assess and make sense of materials 

  • Physically get access to reports and materials.

  • Create source materials index / database by organizing, indexing and tagging your data.

  • Build plan of attack by agreeing what to cover and what not (check your hypotheses).

  • Once you have done this you will be able to identify any coverage gaps and determine whether to buy / commission additional research.


  • Mine for insight and apply frameworks.

  • Identify and develop research themes.

  • Create a structured analysis framework.

  • Review individual reports allowing you to identify learning points and capture learnings in your framework.

Report : Distil learnings and bring to life

Build out themes, findings and include a ‘coverage map’ in order to show what is known and identify gaps. Construct frameworks that clearly visualise the data and highlight opportunities

  • Identify gaps in knowledge and solutions to fill them.

  • Create detailed report and executive summary for those that have the time for just one page.

  • Bring findings to life e.g. Persona development.

  • Present findings in an interactive way to engage participants, and follow-up with implementation workshops.

  • Work hard to make any presentation visually engaging, your hard work will have a longer lifespan if people find it easy, and enjoyable to read, consider the use of photography, infographics, and videos.

At this stage of the exercise you should have some key outputs such as market landscape, persona descriptions, your businesses competitive positioning.

You will also have an understanding of insight gaps and even a range of new questions that will need answering. At this point we’d strongly suggest that you dedicate time to gather together your key internal stakeholders (sales, marketing, product, finance, customer service, etc.), you’ll be impressed at how much knowledge you have internally, still untapped. Because of hard the work you’ve already done it should be relatively easy to run a structured workshop that will help you unearth further knowledge. Finally you’ll have a clear understanding of knowledge gaps and can decide how to fill these.

The results. If done properly your hard work will allow your business to reach its customers with a better understanding of their needs and wants. Long term you will be able to use your corporate resources more effectively and make better strategic marketing decisions.

All this can be achieved in an extremely time and cost-efficient manner, so demonstrate a valuable return on investment for the many disparate and varied reports which exist within your business.

Good luck!

Nicholas Harrisson