Management of Insights

Professor John M. McCann
Fuqua School of Business
Duke University

This section is about the management of marketing insights, knowledge, beliefs, wisdoms, and information. The other discussions describe computer systems that generate text material; this material is one source of marketing intelligence. But other sources have existed for a long time. Much of the existing marketing intelligence is captured in the studies and reports that a firm commissions from marketing research firms. Once a study is finished and captured on paper, it ends up in someone's file cabinet and eventually fades from awareness. Its results are not available to be applied to other situations. Physically it resides on paper in someone's private office and as such is generally not readily accessible to many people and/or applicable to many brands. Time also takes its toll. It takes time to read reports and time erodes the actual memory of individuals and the collective memory of the firm as employees come and go. Having a "marketing language" that preserves or distributes marketing information embedded in intelligent computer systems that can reason with empirical information would make a brand group's historical knowledge available across the firm both physically and in time.

This section describes a new approach to this problem. The Marketing Insight Center system illustrates the use of a semantic network for organizing and retrieving marketing reports. The semantic network mirrors the product structures and geographic structures used by marketing managers. Reports of interest are found by navigating along links in a hypertext-like manner through these product and geographic structures.

Important aspects of the system include the following:

  1. the semantic network representation of a market
  2. the hypertext-like navigation in an insight hyperspace composed of marketing reports produced by other strategic information systems and
  3. the generation of the semantic network structure from a database file.

This system was built using Xerox's Analyst, which is based on Smalltalk-80. Modifications of the Analyst were required to automatically generate the supporting semantic network and to "file" the reports into it.

Specific Topics

Semantic Networks
Implementing an Insight Center
The Marketing Insight Center
Discussion and Prognosis