Insight-driven organizations outperform those that are stuck in the information-overload paradigm, in part by scooping up their customers and revenue. research showed that more than 80 percent of leaders acknowledge that a workforce that generates and shares meaningful insights creates a path to improving workforce productivity.

Organizations are using insights to improve their agility and enable their workers to find what is most relevant amid a barrage of data, content, and other information. Doing so enables these innovative businesses to vastly outperform their competition and drive and sustain impressive business results.

How insight-driven businesses are different

An insight-driven business uses evidence-based insight, in addition to information, data, and analytics, to make critical decisions. Firms acting on insights are 140 percent more likely to create a sustainable competitive advantage, according to Forrester, which calls insights the new currency of business.

Use new technology to extend the value of the old

“Today’s best learning management systems (LMSs) and learning experience platforms (LEPs/LXPs) can serve up relevant content (video- and text-based),” according to Steve Goldberg, VP and research director at Ventana Research.

However, it stops there. “The algorithms used to assess relevance are far from perfect—the worker may not remember or be able to contextualize what she sees in content in a way that helps address the work issue or business problem at hand,” Goldberg said.

A new human capital management (HCM) technology category, adjacent to traditional LMS/LXP technology, is workforce productivity systems—a category that includes insight-curation platforms. These new tools are designed to add value by helping the workforce access relevant content, develop and share insights from that content (what I call the actionable 2 percent), and prompt critical-thinking for informed decision-making and actionability.

Insight curation tools add value

Organizations seeking to optimize information and insight-sharing for improved business results might wish to investigate insight-curation platforms, such as Pandexio, Blinkist, or Spigit. These platforms are not just about data or AI; they are uniquely designed to extend the value of existing HCM. This helps all employees to:

  • Consume information and content
  • Distill insights and identify the actionable 2 percent
  • Scale insight principles across the enterprise

Despite the impressive revenue generation predicted for insight-driven businesses and the potential insight-curation technology holds to increase workforce productivity, engagement, and experience, fewer than one in ten organizations are advanced with insights, according to the Forrester report.

Use insights to redirect workforce productivity

Using insights to redirect productivity is simple, if you use a framework for building an insight-driven organization. As with any change, moving from content to insights in a scalable fashion may incite discomfort. Only the most innovative organizations operated by maverick leadership have begun the transformation process, attracted by the potential for stellar business results.

By progressing through a maturation model, insight-driven businesses:

  • Capture and analyze insights in the flow of learning and work
  • Apply insights to inform business decision-making and action
  • Govern the insight capture, analysis, and application process to ensure continuous value and a sustained advantage over their competitors

Build an insight-driven learning organization

The framework for creating, sharing, and managing insights is marked by five levels of maturation that can be used as benchmarks for progress during the transformation.

The five levels of maturation are:

  • Ad hoc—little to no understanding of how insights drive business performance
  • Rudimentary—some disparate processes and/or tools that enable insight capture and sharing for informed decision-making
  • Organized—organizational commitment to driving insight sharing, acknowledging the business value of collective wisdom
  • Managed—intentional insight sharing to drive more efficient processes and business performance
  • Optimized—enterprise-wide use of an insight sharing platform to enable all employees to extract the actionable 2 percent from the content they consume, boosting productivity and improving organizational agility

The framework is oriented around three principles of insight-driven organizations:

At first pass, the model appears complex. In reality, it is quite simple to operationalize from content to insight, resulting in specific action with measurable business impact. Rather than getting buried in the tactical detail to move from one level to the next, strategic forward momentum is shaped by key calls to action in just three steps.

1. Inventory your current approach

Using the insight maturity model, assess your organization’s current level of insight maturity in three categories:

  • Business processes and organizational structure
  • Learning culture
  • IT infrastructure and human capital (HC) technology

Business processes and organizational structure

To assess this category, use these resources and benchmarks:

  • Degree of integration of insight sources
  • Access to insights across the workforce, teams, and the enterprise
  • Frequency of insight use to assess and refine processes
  • Degree to which the workforce is networked to readily share insights

Learning culture

To assess this category, use these resources and benchmarks:

  • Level of commitment to workforce leveling to give all employees a voice when sharing insights
  • Degree to which employees are enabled to learn in the flow of work and share insights readily
  • Frequency with which employees are rewarded or recognized for insight consumption and sharing
  • Degree to which the learning culture celebrates critical thinking, group think, and collaborative learning

IT infrastructure and HC technology

To assess this category, use these resources and benchmarks:

  • Degree to which insight curation tools are made available to all knowledge workers
  • Degree to which self-service business intelligence is implemented to drive greater use of insights
  • Degree to which insights are delivered across the enterprise in user-friendly and mobile formats
  • Degree to which insights are pervasive via technology that pushes (not pulls) insights to employees

2. Determine the desired state of maturation

This might be different in each category and is likely to be different in different organizations. While research by Deloitte shows that organizations that have more insight maturity are significantly more likely to have exceeded their corporate goals in the past 12 months than less mature ones, this does not signal a call for every organization to aspire to the highest level of insight maturity.

3. Close the gaps

Next, focus on closing the highest-priority gaps between current and desired states. Becoming insight-driven often requires organizations to renovate business processes, ditch traditional learning approaches, and embrace new insight curation technologies.

In each category, this might entail the steps listed below.

Business processes and organizational structure

  • Change the business strategy conversation from data and information to insights and action.
  • Instantiate a networked organizational structure that encourages all employees to collaborate and “group think” for better business decisions faster.

Learning culture

  • Make learning in the flow of work a key part of your investment in building an insight-driven organization. The faster insights are shared across the enterprise, the faster employees build collective wisdom.
  • Enable all employees with the means to create, curate, and share insights. In other words, filter out the actionable 2 percent from all content consumed—and apply it.

IT infrastructure and HCM technology

  • Partner with an insight-curation technology vendor who has the know-how to extend the value of your LMS/LXP and leverage insights as the sustainable lever for your organization.
  • Help employees develop insights by arming them with tools that help them to think critically. Recognize that the power of insights comes from critically thinking humans, not machine-learning algorithms.

Network with your peers

Senior L&D leaders are invited to the annual Executive Forum at DevLearn 2019 Conference & Expo. The Forum, a full-day event on October 22, offers opportunities to network with fellow CLOs, explore critical L&D topics and technologies, and examine several case studies. Learn about the newest learning strategies and technologies and hear about your peers' experience with them. Forum participants gain exclusive use of the Executive Lounge throughout DevLearn, which takes place October 23–25, 2019, in Las Vegas.


Forrester, 2019. The Insights-Driven Business Playbook.

McCormick, J. 2018. “It’s Time to Differentiate Your Business with Insights.” Paper delivered at Sights ’18, the Squirro Global Augmented Intelligence Conference.

Parran, S., J. MacLeod, and Swathi Sadagopan. “Becoming an Insight Driven Organization.” Deloitte.

Vickers, M., et al. 2018. “Workforce 2020: Building today’s talent to meet tomorrow’s needs.” HR.Com.