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In a fast-moving world where customer expectations are constantly changing, the best way to future-proof your company is to orient your business around the voice of the customer.

That’s the key messages from Scott Miller, CEO of Vision Critical, when he delivered his keynote at the 2018 Customer Intelligence Summit. Scott opened the annual event by inspiring the people in the room to use their expertise in customer intelligence to provide more value to their organizations.

The dizzying pace of business

Disruption is the name of the game in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to Scott, the pace of change in business today is the slowest it will ever be. Industries are being disrupted faster than ever before. Previously, companies took years, if not decades, to reach $1 billion in revenue. Today some companies take only a year to reach that milestone.

In this landscape, the voice of the customer has never been more critical, argued Scott. That’s because in a world of more data and more transparency, there’s also more uncertainty. Companies need the “authentic human insight” of their customers to make better business decisions.

5 stories of truly visionary companies

To illustrate his point, Scott shared stories of five companies where individuals are making a profound impact in future-proofing the business.

At Red Bull, Laura-Lynn Freck, director of shopper insights, and Sarah Shain, shopper insights analyst, elevated the role of research to challenge and change the mindset of the organization. They help internal stakeholders better understand shopper behavior. Realizing the importance of retailers, they also share insights to their partners, who then use that information to improve their own sales. Red Bull’s approach, according to Scott, perfectly demonstrates how to scale and monetize insight.

Another story comes from VMware, a pioneer in virtualization and a company whose software is installed in almost every Fortune 1000 organization. IValerie Brock, senior research manager of customer advocacy, has become an important guardian of customer relationships in this company. VMware’s core audience of IT professionals are often hard to reach, but by authentically engaging them, Valerie and her team gets ongoing feedback. Scott said that more than ever, insight professionals should follow Valerie’s example and help protect and nurture customer relationships.

Scott also mentioned Cleveland Clinic, the first health care network to introduce an Office of Patient Experience and appoint a Chief Experience Officer. Through its insight community (also a first in the health care industry), this non-profit medical center is able to talk to patients about topics that can sometimes be personal and sensitive. Scott pointed out that patients are willing participants in the community because they see tangible improvements in their experience with Cleveland Clinic.

To deliver the most value, the customer intelligence industry also needs to build on information that’s available through data—something that Jam City does well. A leader of mobile entertainment, Jam City already has a lot of behavioral data from its games, but the company also engages with players directly to better understand their motivations, attitudes and preferences.

Finally, Scott reiterated the importance of transparency and authenticity. An example comes from Twitch, the leading social video service. With the leadership of Colan Neese, senior manager of audience insights, the company created a research ecosystem where gamers opt-in to provide their information and data. The company uses insight to help ad partners deliver more relevant content to the audience, which in turn helps improve the experience on the Twitch platform.

Everyone wants to matter

Many insight professionals want to contribute more to their organization and future-proof their own careers. Scott said the the opportunity is there for researchers to be much more influential. In this age of constant disruption, deep customer understanding remains the backbone of any enduring business strategy. Insight professionals should embrace the opportunity to bring to life the voice of the customer.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was formerly a Content Marketing Manager at Vision Critical.

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