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The Democratisation of Insight

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Press Release

Hearts over Heads: Starved of Insight, Business Leaders Rely on Gut Instinct

  • UK firms lack reliable customer data to make timely decisions
  • Business leaders complain customer insight is the preserve of the powerful few
  • In the age of social media and ‘big data' analytics, half of leaders still rely on gut instinct to make decisions

Starved of trustworthy customer intelligence, UK business leaders are relying on gut instinct to make crucial decisions according to a new report issued today.

The report, The Democratisation of Insight, by online survey platform SurveyMonkey reveals that most business leaders (91%) believe powerful customer insight is the preserve of big brands with equally big research budgets.

Four in ten bosses (39%) complain that their business lacks the customer data required to make timely decisions, and four-fifths (83%) of leaders would like to access customer insight more regularly but complain it's too expensive and too time-consuming to gather.

As a result, three-quarters (73%) of business leaders say that many decisions are made on gut instinct alone in their business in the absence of access to fast, reliable customer insight. When asked about their own behaviour, half (49%) of bosses admit they rely either mostly or completely on instinct alone when making business decisions. Barely one-in-ten (12%) rely mostly or solely on data.

Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey commented: "It's not surprising that with all the data available today, business decision makers still rely on gut.  This is because it's hard to get quality, actionable data as fast as the speed of business."

Keeping up with the customer
Most business leaders believe that today's customers are more sophisticated (93%) and demanding (98%) than ever before, and that companies have to be more attuned to their needs (98%) and more responsive (97%) as a result.

Yet, the SurveyMonkey study reveals that surprisingly few businesses are accessing external sources of insight to stay abreast of customers' changing wants and needs. Only a third of businesses perform market research polls (33%) or source customer insight via social media (33%), while around a quarter employ ‘big data' analytics of customer behaviour (23%) or access market analyst reports (28%).

A pinch of salt
And for those business leaders that are sourcing customer insight, most lack trust in the data. Bosses told SurveyMonkey that insight has to be quick and cost-effective to acquire, but by far the most important factor for them is the accuracy of the information. However, less than a fifth (19%) completely trust the customer data available to them.

Dave Goldberg said: "Two-thirds of business leaders tell us they only trust market data ‘to some extent' - in short, most take it with a pinch of salt."

"However, many leaders also tell us that with regular access to fast, accurate customer insight, their businesses would be more agile, more competitive, more innovative and would ultimately grow faster[1]."

"Quality customer insight can clearly have a transformational impact on businesses, and advances in research technology have democratised access to this data for companies large and small."

SurveyMonkey Audience
In light of these findings, SurveyMonkey is launching its own proprietary product in the UK, SurveyMonkey Audience, which gives UK businesses direct online access to a panel of tens of thousands of consumers. The tool enables users to set a range of targeting criteria, from gender, age and location to household income, children's age, technology use and education.

Dave Goldberg explains: "As the UK's largest questionnaire platform, millions of people already use SurveyMonkey to poll their own customer databases, but Audience lets them go a critical step further and reach consumers they haven't yet made contact with. Our unique panel recruitment model, based on charity donations for every completed survey, ensures a higher quality of respondents and greater accuracy of results, which can be delivered in 48 hours."

"The charities we are working with in the UK include Mencap, Barnardos, Oxfam and the RLNI. By the end of next year we'll have the largest and highest quality pool of respondents in the UK, just as we do in the US. We think SurveyMonkey Audience will significantly impact the market, bringing more democratic access to customer insight to UK businesses."


For more information, a copy of the Democratisation of Insight report or an interview with a SurveyMonkey spokesperson, please email or call:
Tanya Pennells +44 (0) 208 834 3486
Callum Gibson Durr +44 (0) 20 8834 3485

[1] With regular access to fast, accurate customer insight, business leaders said their companies would be able to be more agile (identified by 43% of respondents), more competitive (38%), more innovative (36%) and able to grow faster (28%).

About the research
SurveyMonkey conducted opinion research among 400 UK business leaders (100 at large businesses, 100 at mid-sized businesses and 200 at small businesses) in October 2014.

About SurveyMonkey  
SurveyMonkey is the world's leading provider of web-based survey solutions, with more than 2 million survey responses every day. Founded in 1999, its aim is to help people make better decisions. Its technology is based on over 10 years of experience in survey methodology and web development. SurveyMonkey's customers include 99% of the Fortune 500 as well as SMEs, academic institutions and public organisations. The company has over 450 employees throughout the US and Europe, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.

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