Whose job is to upskill end users on all things insight? Should we insight professionals even make the effort to train those outside our industry ?

Can insight professionals proactively facilitate training for their stakeholders? My wife and I benefited hugely from an antenatal course that we went on prior to becoming parents for the first time. Going on this course really gave my wife and I space to think about the journey we were about to embark on and voice questions and concerns in a safe forum. I believe insight users also need a similar forum where they can raise questions and concerns about business problems they may want to solve.

12th of the 12th 2015, I became a proud dad for the first time, to baby Maya Bela Patel and was relieved of my back rubbing duties too (which I was on for over 3 days straight #dadsinpregnancy #mumssigh). Not only did my family grow by one that day but that was the start of a rollercoaster few months.

Rewind to Champions League 2015/16, match day 1, group stages, 15th of September 2015. I was rushing home from work in an attempt to catch the Arsenal kick off. Then my phone vibrated and a meeting invite appeared on my screen – ‘NCT class’. Whilst looking out at the tracks on platform 13 I pondered the questions, how am I going to get out of this? What would she believe? Can I pretend to be working late and watch the match at a pub? I came to the conclusion that if I don’t go to the very first NCT class I was going to be in the dog house for quite some time. So, I did a quick cost/benefit analysis and came to the conclusion – I was going to miss Arsenals first Champions League match. I’d just have to record it and keep my phone turned off until I got back from the class. For those of you who aren’t familiar with NCT, NCT is a childbirth and parenting charity that provides antenatal classes for parents to be in the UK.

So that evening I turned up to my first NCT class, introduced my wife and I to six other couples and our NCT lead Julie. Over the next few weeks we were trained on how the birthing process would play out and what it would be like to be parents in the first few months. With a couple of knock out stage games against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos to spare we were primed and ready to have this baby.

Time out

Prior to the course I obviously had a strong idea of what parenting and the birthing process was all about and I had a vague idea of what to expect. However, I felt that I benefited enormously from being taken through the process in detail. Taking a couple of hours out of my week to step away from it all and actually focus in on the birthing process and parenting meant that I was able to think about my questions and concerns in a confined environment.


Sharing the experience with others who were about to embark on the same adventure was also a vital part of the course. The 12 of us started off as total strangers but over the course we bonded over the realisation that we had similar questions and concerns. 4 girls and 2 boys later all of us had become parents for the first time and although we all had slightly different experiences and our parenting was going to be unique, we all had a similar base level of knowledge which filled us with confidence.

So what can the insight industry learn from Julie and the NCT courses?

Proactively training our users on how insight, data and/or research can help them, I think is something we can all do a little more of. Take the average marketer as an example of an insight user. Over the course of a marketers career they are likely to give birth to a couple of segmentations, push out a few product launches and clean up, wipe and bin a number of campaigns. We, as insight professionals will of course do what we can to help, support and massage them as they do these. However, can we play a role before they even start their journey? Can we do more to train our users about how we insight professionals can support them, but do it much earlier? I think the answer is, of course, yes.

Who to train?

If you work for an insight partner or agency then think about the end user not the client-side insight professional. If you’re a client-side insight professional then think about the insight implementer. In my experience, these implementers usually have a strong idea of what they want to do. Like my wife and I we both knew we wanted to be parents. They also have a reasonable knowledge of what journey they need to go on and what will happen in that journey? Like we did. However, they often haven’t got the time to take themselves away from the day job and really think about the details and ask the questions they want to. Creating a forum for them to air these questions and concerns would be valued. I also believe it will ensure that when they do eventually brief a project they will have constructed a better brief and the journey you eventually help them go on will be smoother and you’re likely to have less wobbles along the way.


The title of the course and the descriptions given to the training courses is also something that the NCT team and Julie had clearly thought long and hard about. The titles were relevant and really drew upon our real questions e.g. ‘What to expect on the day?’ Rather than inviting insight users to attend training courses on ‘how and what is eye tracking research?’ the training should be called ‘how to make your campaigns stand out?’. This will allow us to talk about a range of tools and appear more relevant. Julie would not have titled one of her lessons ‘what and how do you use a breast pump?’ rather she titled it ‘how to breast feed?’


The one thing I haven’t covered in this bumble is time. Time to do work like this can be hard to squeeze out (sorry another pun). As a client-side insight professional I would definitely like to find the time to give my stakeholders more proactive insight training. I hope that those of you who are agency side will agree with me that more proactive training like this can also drive more business and better relationships and therefore is well worth the time.

Our experience with the NCT program and Julie was one we benefited from hugely. As a couple we had an idea of what we were getting into when we decided to become parents. However, being taken away from day to day life and having a forum to go through the details and having a forum to raise questions was important. Missing a few Arsenal matches made us more prepared and probably helped us enjoy the experience more.


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