Mind the gap – staying ahead of the technology curve
As an industry professional, it’s a fair bet that you agree with the following two statements. Firstly, digital transformation is important. Secondly, you’re probably not that excited about reading another article on the topic. So we won’t ask you to.
Instead, we’d like to consider technology itself and what it really means to your business’s bottom line.
A 2017/2018 survey of market researchers, conducted independently by meaning ltd., came up with some startling results on the topic of digital strategy. It found that just 5% of market research companies had a digital strategy in place, with 21% in the process of developing one and 3% planning to do so. These figures are interesting in themselves, but become especially fascinating when compared to the broader business sector. IDG’s 2018 State of Digital Transformation report found that 89% of enterprises have adopted or plan to adopt a digital-first business strategy, with services, financial services, and healthcare leading the way across all industries.
So what’s going on here? Well, even given the variances of question phrasing, size of survey group etc., one thing is clear – there is a disconnect between the digital sophistication of the majority of market research agencies and their customers.
B2B, B2C, and H2H
In marketing circles there’s an acknowledgement that the distinction between business to business and business to consumer approaches has blurred, with ‘human to human’ becoming the logical evolution. B2B marketers have recognized that we are all, ultimately, consumers, and have adapted their approach accordingly, borrowing from B2C strategies. By accepting the need to evolve, companies have remained relevant and competitive.
Similarly, market research agencies need to accept that their customers are becoming increasingly digitally savvy and that their demands and expectations are rising at a commensurate rate. Five years ago, it was often enough to present market research data in a flat powerpoint deck – the data was key. Now, customers are used to working with increasingly sophisticated tools and expect that raw data can be processed, interpreted and presented quickly and with a minimum of manual intervention. For this to happen, market researchers need to rethink the role that technology plays in their profession.
Bridging the digital divide
So, just what expectations do customers now have? For a start, they’re impatient – any delay between data gathering and insight has a potential real-world impact on business decisions and revenue. With mobile literate, always-on consumers becoming the norm, the data gathered by market researchers should be available in the shortest possible time frame – raw data should not have to go through a lengthy process of cleaning and validation prior to use.
The second expectation concerns the presentation of that data. Customers need the information to be presented clearly, attractively and in multiple formats for sharing with multiple stakeholders. This process needs to happen intuitively, without a steep learning curve – remember, the customers are interested in the insights that the data can offer – they don’t have time to learn lengthy new processes prior to making business decisions.
An example of this might be the use of dashboards – engaging, visually appealing representations of raw data, repopulated in real time. A great dashboard solution allows customers to vary the way in which they interact with the data, from generalized business overview to granular analytics.
So how does technology come into this? Well, by integrating an intelligent, intuitive software reporting solution into their business, market researchers can bring both efficiency savings to their own business and offer a more attractive solution to their end-user, satisfying both parties. So maybe the question shouldn’t be “can I afford the time or money to invest in new reporting technology?”, but “can I afford not to?”utting edge data visualization solutions