In her role as CMO, IKEA North America, Leontyne Green Skyes decided her first hire would be a strategic insight manager. As AdWeek reported a while back, “That’s been central to the changes Green has put in place at IKEA, where she is credited with remaking the home furnishings giant’s marketing to give it a sharper, more strategic vision.”

In an excerpt from the Economist Intelligence Unit report, she explained that previously (and much like other organizations), strategic plans were divvied up among respective functional teams, “Sometimes they fit and sometimes they did not,” notes Ms Green Sykes. “What we realized is in order to make great strides, we all needed to be based off the same key objectives regardless of function or responsibility.”

And that is where the clouds break apart and we planners start to hear the angels sing. Everyone working toward the same objectives and from the same insights. Lordy.

In an interview with the SAS Institute’s Knowledge Exchange, John McDonald, VP of marketing for the Americas at British Airways chimed in, “Marketing has only just begun to mine the universal behavioral insights that exist about customers.“ The article goes on to explain that BA is taking its own steps towards mining customer insights through its Know Me program. Launched in February 2012, Know Me is a company-wide effort to enhance the customer experience through deep insights about existing customers’ preferences and behaviors.

Of course the U.K. government formed its very own behavioral insights unit to bring behavioral economics into its planning and I’ve heard rumblings that one of the world’s leading retailers is about to stop relying solely on its agencies to tell them what they honestly already know about their own customers.

There’s always a benefit to having an outside partner prod and provoke internal assumptions and shake up the folklore that can hold companies back from breakthroughs but as more brands are hiring internal analysts and data-gatherers, it makes perfect sense that they also have people in-house who know how to interrogate that data and improve the knowledge-sharing across an organization.

Internal planners and insights managers will make their agencies work better, I believe, because their briefs will be tighter and aligned to company/brand objectives and this is a very good thing.

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