Don’t be tempted by shiny objects
There are risks and there are rewards when you invest in market research technology. Here are a few ways to choose the solution that will have the biggest impact on your business.
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a very real phenomenon - and it even extends into our business lives. New solutions, new applications of technology, and the “next best thing” are continuously presented to us - as magic wands, if you will - with significant rewards touted to help us improve, streamline, and succeed at our jobs. Surprisingly, even with the economic downturn, many studies are finding that companies are allocating more budget toward IT strategies. No one wants to be left behind, but striving to keep up with the latest trends can leave organisations exposed to new risks like overspending on tech stacks they may not even need. Furthermore, jumping the gun in order to ‘keep up’ with the market can also cause significant damage to your brands - one only needs to look at the ChatGPT and Google’s Bard saga in early 2023, where an error saw $100bn wiped off Google’s market value.
One of our recent guests on our Now That’s Significant market research podcast, Ray Poynter, commented that market research companies will be facing many choices in the coming year and will be pushed to transition into new ways of doing business. He said that there will be “sexy stuff” like the Metaverse, biometrics, eye scanners, Microsoft HoloLens, and similar technologies that will grab attention. But simpler research continues to trend up - packaging testing, advertising measurement, core monitoring and tracking - and the technologies to support this are more straightforward. DIY platforms and ResTech will be a focus, and although things like AI will be built into many of these processes, they won’t be complete standalone solutions for what researchers need today.
Invest in and leverage technology
Of course, market researchers absolutely must invest in and leverage technology in order to meet accelerated demands for speed, quality and cost-effectiveness - and deliver better outcomes for their clients and their organisations. This means closely examining the typical market research project journey and your workflow and finding the best solution to create efficiencies. Mike Stevens of Insights Platforms, another guest on our podcast, says there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution but that each organisation must create its own framework that connects all the pieces within the data environment.
So, how can you choose the solution that will have the biggest impact? With all the fascinating new technologies out there, it is easy to get distracted. To stay focused, you can ask yourself some simple questions such as:
What are the biggest sticking points in my company’s current workflow when it comes to delivering quality insights faster, and at a better price? Where can technology implementation impact these key deliverables?
What level of disruption am I looking at with a technology implementation? Have I chosen a partner that can help walk me through the change? Is the solution made with my actual job in mind?
What are the core strengths and weaknesses of my key team members? Where can they provide the most impact along the work continuum in order to meet demands? Do I need team members with new or different skill sets; can my existing staff be retrained to work alongside technology for the best results?
Will this technology enable my organisation to materialise sustained benefits or will it be a one-off boost? What long-term upside will my organisation gain from this to help maximise the return on investment from the project?
What is my organisation’s appetite for risk? Are you comfortable with higher risks in search of potentially higher upsides, or are you willing to accept a more stable approach for more moderate returns?
It’s also important to consider the overall environment in which we are working as market researchers. Primary research data is our bread and butter, and we need fast, effective and accurate ways to process it, weight it, visualise and share it with others. Manually sifting through hundreds of cross-tabs, Excel tables and static PowerPoint decks will ensure that you are left behind and exhaust your valuable resources. Choose a technology that provides interactive, dynamic, online analysis and reporting, so you can easily explore your data and democratise it across your organisation.
Varied data streams
It is also important to remember that today’s digital-first world is feeding us a giant sea of data. In addition to our market research data, the best tech stack must bring in other sources for a holistic view - manufacturing, sales, media, social media, market research, customer feedback, transaction data and more. Many times these varied data streams don’t match up, so seek a solution that will smoothly integrate multiple data sources together in one view, using labels that match - irrespective of the source. Ultimately, you will have a single location where all your data is connected and gives you the ability to interrogate and analyse it quickly and easily.
One final point to consider is one of an ethical nature. Explainability and transparency are becoming increasingly important in today’s business world. While technology has a huge role to play in our lives, it needs to have a high degree of auditability with regards to how it reaches any given outcome. The last thing an organisation wants is a ‘surprise’ in its technology. Rolling out shiny objects too quickly and without appropriate due diligence can leave an organisation exposed, as mentioned early. This whole subject of new technology is similar to that of financial investing - risk and reward. Some will be happy to accept the higher risks for a potentially higher upside. While others have a lower risk appetite and prefer to settle for more moderate returns that have a practical impact on workflow sticking points.
Choosing the right technology to move your organisation forward doesn’t have to be complicated. The best way to avoid FOMO is to choose a solution that will keep your company competitive - streamlining the tasks that you do on a daily basis. Begin by digging into the unique needs of your organisation, where you can improve throughput and the strengths of your team. Then, look at the big data picture, and the trends that are happening surrounding data integration, holistic customer views, data democratisation and other critical demands. Invest in the technology that creates the right efficiencies to instantly deliver a data-driven foundation for insights generation and decision-making across your organisation.
John BirdExecutive Vice President at Infotools
John Bird currently serves as an Executive Vice President for Infotools (www.infotools.com). His experience spans B2B and B2C work and he has conducted research programs in over 70 countries. He is focused on fueling curiosity and moving clients from three ring binders and “death by PowerPoint” to Infotools Harmoni, a SaaS data design, investigation and reporting platform.