New research report on the experimentation practices of fast-growth companies

4 min. read | Last updated: September 17th, 2019

New research report available for download

Widerfunnel has just published the new 38-page research report on the experimentation industry. Download your copy here.

Becoming an insight-driven business has become table-stakes for companies across all industries. The most innovative, fast-growth companies are rapidly developing best-practices for their experimentation programs.

As the practice of experimentation matures, business leaders need to understand the characteristics of the best programs to stay in a leadership position.

A new research report shows the industry’s progress

Last year, Widerfunnel published the first annual “State of Experimentation Maturity 2018.” In it, we discovered the characteristics of high maturity, data-informed companies. The report showed how the five components of program maturity; Process, Accountability, Culture, Expertise, and Technology; impact their effectiveness.

The research showed that most successful organizations are balanced across the maturity pillars.

Experimentation program maturity categories

This year, we switched the lens to look at the characteristics of fast-growth companies.

In this new report published September 2019, “Harnessing the experimentation mindset to drive growth”, we’ve gathered a fresh round of data to benchmark the characteristics of a healthy culture of experimentation that drives growth. We surveyed decision-makers in Digital, Marketing, and Product across North America. Respondents come from leading brands, including Microsoft, Target, Allstate, Domino’s, BMW, and more.

The study revealed four key factors that are critical to a thriving experimentation practice:

  1. Overall organizational agility
  2. Accountability via strategic metrics
  3. Executive participation in experimentation
  4. Customer obsession throughout the organization

The survey questions leading to this report addressed questions about a healthy culture of experimentation. For example:

  • Is success correlated to a clear guiding metric or Overall Evaluation Criterion for experimentation—ensuring insights drive bottom-line growth?
  • Is success correlated to trust quotient within the organization—ensuring the freedom to fail?
  • Is success a factor of knowledge sharing within the organization—ensuring functional feedback loops around experimentation?

Below are a few specific insights you’ll find in the report, or you can download the full report now for all the detail.

Centralized or decentralized, agility is what matters most

Last year, we found that more mature experimentation organizations structure their experimentation programs in a hybrid model, sharing characteristics of centralized and decentralized programs.

Centralized Decentralized or Hybrid experimentation program structures

Last year, research showed that the hybrid model enables higher experiment velocity.

Velocity and program structure

This year, we found a similar insight. As experimentation programs begin, they tend to start without much organization, or as a centralized team of experts. As they mature and the organization begins to demand more experiments for decision-making, the decision to centralize or de-centralize becomes important. More and more mature organizations are adopting a hybrid model, retaining some characteristics of centralized and decentralized structures.

2019 team structure for testing teams

We find business units in mature organizations are given the freedom to develop experimentation practices that suit their work rhythms, with the support of a Center of Excellence or consultancy partner that enables them with technology, shared resources, and specialized expertise.

It’s especially difficult for large organizations to maintain decision-making agility. We found that, while 92% of companies that reported strong year-over-year revenue growth made quick decisions, larger companies were less likely to.

Large organizations struggle with agility and have slower decision-making

Experimentation program accountability is most effective when executives have been involved in creating the metrics

Experimentation, like any other core strategy, must be held accountable to deliver business impact. Organizations that outline clear goals for experimentation and assign clear metrics and KPIs to experimentation efforts are more successful in the long-term.

Leadership involvement in setting these metrics is particularly important.

Among respondents in companies showing the strongest growth, 40% designed an Overall Evaluation Criteria (OEC) with the executive team, compared to just 17% of those in companies showing no growth.

Fast growth companies design overall evaluation criteria with executive involvement

Executive-level support of experimentation is a game-changer.

This year’s research shows a correlation between how an organization’s executive team views the experimentation program and reported year over year revenue growth.

Fifty-six percent of companies with the strongest YoY revenue growth responded that their executives were fully bought-in and encourage experimentation, and another 24% see value in experimentation.

High growth executives support experimentation

Fast-growth companies prioritize a culture of knowledge-sharing more than other companies.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents in fast-growth companies reported a significant knowledge-sharing culture, where employees are encouraged to learn and share knowledge throughout the organization; compared to only 40% of respondents whose companies did not grow last year.

Knowledge sharing culture at high growth companies

Download your copy of the new research report now!


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Author

Chris Goward

Founder & CEO

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