The New Dimensionality of Learning: Thinking Beyond the Report


By Susan Scarlet, VP, Strategic Branding, Gongos, Inc.

Once upon a time, an 80+-page research report was commonplace. Nearly every question market researchers asked of their consumer subjects landed either in a chart, an executive summary, or both.  Those deliverables, often found in PowerPoint, were eventually dispersed on a shared drive and archived into growing terabytes of proprietary knowledge.

But today, a new imperative—one that serves to empower frontline and C-suite executives—exists inside insight organizations within Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies.

Storytelling. Synthesis. Insight Curation. Video Documentaries. And the ever-important IWIK-SIC (I wish I knew, so I could). These are the new buzz words in so-called reporting.  And the students of today, and researchers of tomorrow, will not only become intimately acquainted with these tools, but work swiftly and strategically to create new generations of information-gathering techniques and knowledge-centric platforms.


The Industry’s Stance

Peer-to-peer industry presentations and feature articles exclaiming “Is PowerPoint dead?” have donned the blogosphere since 2012.  Soon after, the onslaught of “big data” and other impending sources of consumer knowledge changed the way we take in, and immerse with, information.  Beyond dashboards and other digital visualization platforms, insight professionals had to find a way to cut through the fray of information to truly garner the attention of time-constrained decision makers.

With real-time information feeds and the mandate to gut check those against primary research findings, conventional reporting just wasn’t the quickest, nor the most impactful way, to distribute information that would ultimately empower decision makers to do their job, well.

Besides presenting compelling and immersive insights packaged inside a headline or two, this information needs to reach a broader corporate audience; and be accessible, consumable and memorable.  In theory, research findings of today must find ways to reach readers at a visceral level.  They need to inform and inspire people at all levels of an organization to make faster and better decisions on behalf of their peers and their organization.

So, what does this actually look like inside an organization?

As an industry, healthcare had experienced a marketplace shift brought on, in part, by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. As a result, this prompted the need for a prominent health insurer to recalibrate its customer-minded strategies to create more reciprocal relationships with minority customers. Among their vast customer base, Latinos are a critical, growing, underinsured population that deserves to be understood both from a cultural and community-driven perspective.

This insurer entrusted Gongos’ insight curation practice, Artifact, to create an immersive experience at their corporate headquarters to enable key executives and decision makers to “walk in the shoes” of Latino families. Instead of presenting the research insights and subsequent marketing and business implications within the staid walls of a boardroom, they leveraged the senses of sight, sound, and touch, to empower their stakeholders to truly understand—and empathize with— this growing population. In place of an 80+-page report, the research findings came to life inside of an 800+-square-foot space.

Note: this excerpt was originally written for Marketing Research, Alvin C. Burns, Ronald F. Bush, a textbook to be released by Pearson Education, Inc. in 2016.

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