Directors and CEOs of some of the largest corporations have lived for decades with the belief that their sole responsibility was to provide shareholders with consistently larger profits and dividends. This one-dimensional view – that a company’s stock price is the primary method of measuring success – has come under fire lately as greater scrutiny about corporate governance and social behavior has gathered momentum.
An alternative view argues that corporate decision makers (boards and CEOs) need to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders and recognize the company's responsibilities to its employees, its customers and its community, as well as to its owners and investors. This view seeks to achieve consensus between those stakeholder groups around a common vision of the organization’s purpose, value, direction and character. It’s in shaping and refining this common vision that integrated communication analytics can play an important role by providing actionable insights to senior management.
An integrated corporate communication organization – when managed optimally – can assume the role of a hub for integrated business analysis. Integrating communications efforts brings together a diverse set of activities delivered to targeted stakeholders to optimize brand equity by influencing the behavior and perspectives of key stakeholders. Because an integrated model affects all stakeholders, communication professionals are uniquely positioned to manage this analytical hub and to capture and disperse the knowledge emerging from these new data sources throughout the organization.
This management model suggests that communication organizations need to evolve from relying principally on descriptive analytics (a snapshot of how things are now) to achieve a competency in prescriptive analytics (what is needed to achieve specific results in the future).
Mu Sigma, a decision sciences firm based in Chicago, calls this evolution the DIPP™ Index:
- Descriptive analytics – What’s happened? Data is frequently delivered by simple report or dashboard.
- Inquisitive analytics – Why did this happen?
- Predictive analytics – What can we expect in the future?
- Prescriptive analytics – “What should we do about it?”
Analytics in an integrated communication setting does not end with a single solution or “answer” as is so often the case with financial or operational analytics. With every analytical insight there is new learning and hypotheses to be tested. In this way, analytics is an ongoing process and not simply a traditional measurement application. In Part 2 of this paper, I'll explore some specifics of the DIPP Index and provide examples of how prescriptive analysis can contribute to strengthening stakeholder relationships.
Integrated communication analytics can be at the forefront of corporate strategy development. Communication professionals today have the education, decision support tools, and, increasingly, the formal business education needed to achieve full membership in the ranks of senior corporate management. The insight this analysis can provide to management can raise the firm's brand equity and cement the relationship between the firm and its core stakeholders.
Dr. Norman Booth is Vice President of Business & Industry at Coyne PR