We hear it all the time: technology is changing the face of how we do business, including in the market research industry. But what does that really mean? From the doom and gloom of artificially intelligent systems taking over our jobs all the way to the massive efficiencies that automation can lend to mind-numbing manual tasks, the stories and predictions run the gamut. One thing is clear: we need to use - really use - technology or be left behind.
One of the main value propositions driving technology adoption is the promise of “cheaper, faster, better (when it comes to quality of insights).” In fact, the latest GRIT report from Greenbook, pulled this fact out in its executive summary. It reported that when respondents were asked to prioritize their selection of methods to use for a typical research project, they leaned away from services-based approaches and toward a technologically-driven solution for just these reasons: cost savings, speed and accuracy. (We maintain that there is a definitive balance to be struck between services and software - but that’s a different article.)
Making the right choice
You know you need to make an investment in technology or be left behind, and this is a decision that can be challenging. There’s a dizzying array of choices out there, both from inside and outside the market research industry, and there are inherent risks involved with adoption. The industry is moving forward, with or without us. It’s not smart to bury our heads in the sand but instead take a thoughtful approach to find market research software that can help improve efficiency, reduce costs and stand out from the competition.
There are several key stages in the decision-making process that should be considered. Ask yourself these basic questions:
- What mix of technology fits your business? This is a weighty question. The solutions out there number in the thousands, with Greenbook listing 17 different categories of software in the market research industry alone. This doesn’t even count the huge volume of broader based (i.e. non-market research specific) software tools for surveys, data analysis, visualization and presentation. You must sift through the options and find the tools - or combination of tools that will allow you to best meet the demands for speed, insights and value. These solutions must also fit into the architecture of how you run your company and what your clients are expecting you to deliver. The answer to this question will be different for each company.
- Should I switch systems? Do the benefits of investing in new software outweigh the risks? There is the initial cost, which can be significant. You must also take into account things like compatibility with existing systems, learning curve, training, customer support and results. There’s always the risk of investing in software and a vendor, only to discover that they can’t deliver what was promised, the software doesn’t match your needs, or the vendor relationship doesn’t pan out. Do your research - with reviews and information readily available online about any product and service, you should be able to find out if the vendor you are considering has a good reputation. In short, making an old-fashioned pros and cons list should help guide you toward a good decision that will most benefit your business.
- Can the system handle the data? While this should be covered during the consideration stages outlined above, it is vital enough to be called out separately. You must make sure that the correct protocols are in place to keep the data private and secure. Just as important is that the system can handle the data it is fed. We no longer have one source of data feeding into consumer insights projects, but a wide mixture of standard data sources, passive data online interactions, in-store shopping data, social media posts and more. The system you choose must be able to harmonize these data sources together to create a complete insights picture, as well as providing seamless integrations with mainstream software tools for data collection. Modern technology suites demand the ability to share. Your market research software has to be able play nicely (albeit safely) with others.
These are just a few of the things you should consider when making a smart technology decision. Take the time to explore and weigh the options, and capitalize on your unique approach to market research by investing in a software that highlights your strengths. After all, the right choice in software can help to differentiate your business, increase your productivity and deliver on your stakeholder’s demands for speed, cost savings and accuracy.
Author the Author: Geoff Lowe is executive director of New Zealand based market research technology company,Infotools. Geoff has been involved in consumer insights in various ways since 1986. He is driven by the vision to help researchers realize the potential in the data they're collecting. He believes knowledge is power, but shared knowledge is super power! https://web.infotools.com/software-buyers-guide