Why Integrated Research Principles Trump Google in the Enterprise

June 5, 2013

Understanding Why Google Doesn’t Work as Well in Enterprise Portals as it Does on the Internet

ciFinding and applying what “we already know” is a main reason clients utilise Research Reporter or other enterprise portals. Within such portals, “learning’s” are typically contained in documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF etc). Research Reporter includes search capabilities that can easily find information within these documents that can then be applied to business decisions, rather than having to fund new research.

Outside of such enterprise portals, most people are familiar with search engines, in particular, Google, when searching the Internet.

While searching in Research Reporter can look very similar to searching the Internet (and can even use Google’s technology), the search experience for users can be significantly different.

This post provides a summary of the differences between searching within a corporate portal and the Internet, and why a Google-esqe approach appears to work so well on the Internet, but not within an enterprise portal.

We’ll also explain how “Integrated Research Principles” can be applied to your Research Reporter application to help your organization maximize the return from your market research investment.

Searching: Web Pages vs Documents

Web page searching

Web pages typically contain multiple links within them that connect to other web pages. Google’s Internet search success is predominantly based on its ability to assess the “authority” of these links, called “deep crawling,” and then creates a Google “PageRank” that is used to determine the order or relevance for the search results.  The short video below from Google expands on this process.

Document Searching

In contrast, when searching documents within an enterprise portal these documents have NO other links.  No other information (such as document classifications, authors, etc.) bind documents to each other, and users simply enter a search term in the expectation that they will find relevant documents.  In this situation the search engine can ONLY rank results based on matching information within the documents to the search term entered.

The user experience when searching for documents is inferior to Internet searching, because documents do not contain links that can be used by Google’s PageRank to order search results.

Searching: Learning from Experience

Most search engines, including Google, can take into account previously entered search terms to help improve the search experience. The Google Search Appliance (GSA) and Apache Solr (both available within Research Reporter) include similar functionality to Google’s Internet search engine to:

  1. Make suggestions, as search terms are entered, based on previous searches
  2. Use recent popular searches to “boost” the positioning of results

This “learning” depends on how often the search page is “used.”  A high “use” Research Reporter application with 1,000 users might generate up to 100 searches per day from which to “learn.”  A broad-based corporate intranet for a global corporation might generate up to 10,000 searches per day.

By contrast, on the Internet
Google is used for searches 3 billion times per day!!

Therefore, while the technology used by Google’s Search Appliance within portals uses the same technology as the Google Internet search, the sheer volume of searches conducted through Google on the Internet dramatically improves the search experience for internet users.

With the largest corporate intranets having less than .0003% the number of Google’s Internet searches, the user experience is inferior compared to Internet searching, because the search engine has a minimal learning base compared to the Google Internet search.

Research Reporter – Addressing Search Disappointment

User Response to Enterprise Search

The well-documented level of dissatisfaction enterprise users have with search in contrast to searching the Internet is due to:

  1. The inability to directly link documents together in the same way that websites can be linked
  2. The inability to draw from past search experiences to the same extent that Google’s Internet search engine is able to

The dissatisfaction levels with enterprise search can become even more pronounced with market research libraries because:

  1. Documents tend to be larger, requiring a greater level of effort to determine their usefulness after searching and downloading
  2. Users entitled to access the information are typically an even smaller subset of the enterprise users

Research Reporter’s Client’s Advantage

Insights Teams using Research Reporter have the opportunity to  leverage  “Integrated Research Principles,” to provide the following benefits to users.

  1. Faceting – an understanding of the scope of the information to be accessed, creates the opportunity to do “drill-down” searching that Google cannot do
  2. User Profiling – an understanding of the interest areas for users, providing an ability to specifically match content to individual user profiles
  3. Context searching – on an understanding of the “occasions” when users are accessing  information, and the ability to present content that matches that context (I.e. onboarding, business case creation, product innovation)

Contact us by email to learn more about Research Reporter’s search benefits.  If you are a current Research Reporter client, contact your Client Manager to discuss options.

More reads and resources….

Why Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid…or Smart (Article from the Hedgehog Review)


5 answers in the Cloud: Using research management platforms to maximise research assets across a business

November 6, 2011

First published in Argent, the Journal of the Financial Services Forum, November 2011 http://www.thefsforum.co.uk/

The need for customer insight is increasing as financial services groups search for and deploy strategies to give them a competitive edge. This is generating greater pressure on those responsible for managing market research in their drive for innovation and commercial success. Faced with growing workloads and the demand for closer co-ordination of globally disparate projects, financial research teams are under growing strain.

With today’s tightening squeeze on budgets, they’re increasingly required to demonstrate the asset value of their findings to their businesses. It’s only a matter of time until today’s powerful new integrated research management systems find their way into every global financial research team, helping to deliver research that’s seen as a genuine asset rather than a business expense.

For most financial service providers, the main problem is time – the lack of it. The answers to many commercial questions may already exist in past research, but current resources simply don’t stretch to allow researchers to find them. So new research is commissioned: it’s considered an easier, less risky and more time-efficient way to get the critical answers.

And the bigger the financial services group, the greater the exponential growth of this research conundrum. It’s more than likely the answer exists somewhere within the group, but a combination of different locations, management structures and technology barriers makes it even more difficult to find what’s been learnt from past research.

Many businesses recognise the problem, but have been unable to identify a solution. Generic knowledge management and enterprise search capabilities have been around for a decade, but typically require significant capital expenditure. They also have a high failure rate when applied to market research: they don’t acknowledge the project-centric nature of research, and have trouble reconciling the dual requirements of increased accessibility and high confidentiality.

In recent years, however, technological innovations have enabled systems to be developed that meet these research imperatives. The growing acceptance of cloud computing and Saas (software as a service) allows businesses quickly and cost effectively to access technology on a pay-per-use basis. Managed over secure internet connections, information can be accessed from any company location, whilst meeting the security requirements demanded by global corporations.

What makes cloud computing unique is that there’s no hardware or software requirement. Corporate IT departments have minimal involvement resulting in faster decision-making and less administration. Clients can also immediately access new capabilities on the platform as they become available without expensive and time-consuming rollouts.

At Research Reporter, we adopted the benefits of Saas technology for our web-based integrated research management platform. Among the global market research teams using it are HSBC, Zurich Insurance, National Australia Bank, Coca Cola, Kraft, and Mars. Research Reporter ensures that the insights generated are at the heart of their decision-making. With each new project, new data is loaded onto the system, which builds up a historical database that can be cross-referenced against any new study.

There are significant benefits to be gained from using these platforms:

Cascaded insights: Across the business, research management systems empower non-research staff to source and select relevant insight data accessed directly from their browser, enhancing their role and cascading insight across the organisation.

In the past, these individuals would not have been given access to data, relying instead on the financial research team to provide volumes of information through which they themselves would trawl to select the most relevant insights. Now, alerts can also be set up, so critical findings are immediately flagged to the most appropriate individuals.

Secure supplier access: It’s easy to extend access to these systems to suppliers, giving them limited access to see projects for which they are responsible, and allowing them to directly upload research outputs and findings, reducing the administrative workload of the financial research team.

This approach also has the added benefit of reducing the security risk of sending files via email where they can be easily duplicated and forwarded across the internet.

One platform integration: It’s easier to integrate multiple information sources and to rationalise suppliers. Saas and cloud computing technology have the capability to incorporate other third-party data sources from around the business and integrate them into a single platform.

Through a single access point, users can find both primary and secondary research sources, allowing businesses to gauge the effectiveness of third party subscriptions and rationalise the number of subscriptions across their enterprise. 

Greater flexibility: Integrated research platforms can extend beyond access to research and can provide structures that help research teams manage projects based on their own research policies and procedures.

This flexible approach enables a system to be created that manages the entire workflow process – from the original project request through to results and final presentation, including all relevant authorisations and internal procedures. This makes it easier for researchers to comply with company policies, and increase research efficiency.

A strategic asset: Perhaps the most interesting effect of these new research platforms is that they change the perception of research within an organisation. Research has traditionally been viewed as an expensive necessity, but these new technology platforms enable the accumulation of research findings into a repository of insight that’s a strategic business asset, generating a continuing return on investment.

They also allow research teams to plan their research needs more strategically, helping to fill the gaps of research knowledge and avoid repeating research projects.

Recycling pharma market research

December 12, 2010

Article originally published in Pharmafocus – http://www.inpharm.com/news/101108/pharma-marketing-research

Recycling is in vogue. Not just in the consumer market, but across business sectors too. But recycling in the market research sector is rare.

For pharmaceutical research teams, the problem is time. Although answers to commercial questions may already exist within a business, time cannot be wasted trying to track them down. It’s easier, less risky, and expected by internal clients that the focus is on generating new information rather than speculatively looking for answers from past research. The result is millions of pounds wasted on research that has already been undertaken.

In smaller organisations, recycling research is relatively easy, but for global pharmaceutical companies, with research filing cabinets and shared drives all over the world, finding and applying past research is practically impossible. Earlier attempts by enterprise-wide knowledge management systems that made information widely available to everyone in the organization floundered when it came to research.

These systems required enormous IT investments, and couldn’t cope with:

  • the project-centric requirements of research
  • the need to easily re-apply past findings to new projects
  • the conflicting need to share research findings, while maintaining control over what is highly strategic information

However, new technology has been developed specifically for the market research function, and is currently being utilized by some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical brands to focus on the specific needs of pharma research teams.

These new technological solutions use cloud-based computing and software-as-a-service (Saas) to provide secure access over the internet, giving research teams the ability to access information anywhere across the globe while meeting the stringent information security requirements of global pharma companies. Cloud-computing means that there is no hardware or software requirement, which results in minimal involvement with the corporate IT department. The Saas model also means that there is no upfront capital cost, just pay-per-use.

The big advantage with these new research-focused systems is that the research team can work directly with providers to mould the system to their specific needs, rather than having to compromise and force-fit systems that were not really designed for research.One of the interesting side effects from recycling research is that it is actually changing how research is seen within the business. Traditionally seen as an expense with little residual value, these systems can change the perception of research from a series of once-off expenses to a continuing investment in customer knowledge. Research becomes a cumulative strategic asset from which the company can generate a greater return.

While initially focused on providing researchers with access to past research, these systems can also be used to promote the use of research to internal clients, allowing them to directly search for – and even pro-actively alert people to – new research that is relevant to their needs. Of course, for these systems to be successful it is critical that the information available remains up to date. One of the most successful ways of doing this is to use the technology to help manage the entire project workflow process – from initial project request, to final report presentation. In addition to ensuring all research findings are added, this means that the system can manage all internal procedures, authorizations and even project costs, whilst automatically creating the management and compliance reports required in a post Sarbanes-Oxley environment.

Cloud-based computing is a new technological option, which allows secure integration with other data sources. Users can search not only their own research documents, but access information from other sources, all from the one search box. This allows companies to rationalize their online subscriptions, and track the use and benefits of these external data sources. Pharma research teams can also give their agencies access, albeit on a limited basis as required. Typically, agencies can only view current projects where they are the chosen supplier, which allows suppliers to directly add project outputs directly to the application, while still restricting access to other research. Allowing agencies to directly update the application also limits the risks associated with sending files via email, while reducing the administrative tasks for the research team. While these systems give research teams the ability to re-use and recycle research findings, they can also be used to help plan future research, by providing content maps that help research teams identify gaps in their knowledge of their marketplaces and pro-actively specify research projects to fill those gaps.

The technology is now available for pharmaceutical companies to potentially save millions in wasted time, resources and money whilst positioning the research team as a source of competitive advantage for their organization. Recycling has never been so popular.

Control Shift: How Cloud Computing and Saas technology is changing the client agency relationship (and what to do about it). ESOMAR published paper

September 15, 2010


Article originally published in ESOMAR’s Research World:


As an information-intensive industry, it is impossible to talk about how market research is evolving without talking about the impact of technology. While most discussions focus on specific research applications, the growing popularity of Cloud Computing as a platform for accessing Saas-based applications is having a profound effect along the entire research value chain and will lead to dramatic changes in the client-agency relationship, and the structure and economic viability of what we now call the Research Industry.

But what is Saas? Saas, or software as a service, is software accessed via the internet, typically using a “pay-as-you-go” model. While Saas-based applications were originally seen as low cost solutions for small businesses, they are now being accepted by IT departments of larger corporations.  As a result, many corporate services functions, including market research, are now taking control of Saas-based applications specifically developed to support their activities.

Traditionally, the economic success of mid/large sized research agencies has relied on a combination of research expertise AND technological infrastructure. The high cost of technology has meant that it made more sense for clients to outsource to agencies who:

  1. Had research expertise and
  2. Were capable of generating economies of scale from their technology by conducting research on behalf of multiple clients

Client-side Saas removes the requirement for agencies to own the technological infrastructure, effectively unbundling the combination of expertise and infrastructure offered by traditional research agencies.

Saas applications are likely to become more prevalent with client-side research teams because:

    • There is minimal need for IT resources in setting up or using Saas applications
    • No capital expenditure is required because Saas application providers typically charge on-going access fees rather than a large once-off charge
    • Application access is typically over the internet so client-side researchers can therefore give agencies access to specific tasks without losing visibility or control of their projects

The shift in technology control to the client created by Saas applications will affect key activities along the value chain


Survey design and data collection

Current status

 Saas has already provided a platform for one of the more controversial disruptions to the traditional MR industry structure; DIY research.

The argument against DIY research is based on the assumption that because clients control the application they also design and deploy the surveys, and that they do not have the skills or experience to do so.

With Saas-based applications, this argument is moot as end clients can design and deploy surveys themselves, or grant access to chosen agencies on a project-by-project basis. The use of these applications is likely to increase as major survey software providers including SPSS and Confirmit have joined smaller providers in making their applications accessible though the Saas delivery model.

Opportunities for End Clients

Saas-based survey design and deployment applications give end clients the opportunity to:

  • Rapidly develop and deploy their own simple questionnaires
  • Extend access to outside agencies for more complex projects
  • Work more collaboratively with agencies to ensure surveys produce reliable data and meet the objectives of the research

In addition to reducing costs and time, control over survey design and deployment will allow end clients to:

  • Track, collaborate, approve and deploy questionnaires in real time
  • Collate questions (and answers) from multiple projects to reduce research overlap
  • Ensure consistency in key questions (eg demographics) to promote cross-project analysis

Effect on research industry structure

As Saas becomes the dominant delivery channel for survey design and deployment applications, the long-term success of agencies will be based on the skill and experience of the individual researcher rather than on the technological investments of the agency.

Agency consolidation will therefore not yield economies of scale in the core activities of survey design or data collection.

Strategic considerations for agencies

Without the opportunities for economies of scale in survey design or data collection, larger agencies will have three strategic options:

  1. Focus on data aggregation by controlling the flow of information from other sources (examples include Nielsen Scan Data, IMS Midas, IRI etc)
  2. Provide comparative data from other projects (eg Millward Brown’s Link Test, JD Power’s Customer Satisfaction etc)
  3. Develop a competitive advantage and market positioning based on sharing broad skills, knowledge and expertise of staff

With a diminishing need for survey design and data collection (see data analysis below), and limited opportunities for scale, bespoke design and data collection is likely to become an art form practiced only by smaller agencies with minimal overheads that provide outsourced services to their end clients.


Data analysis

Current status

The effect of Saas-based data analysis has not yet been felt on the research industry, but if recent investments by VC firms are anything to go by, it’s coming.

The interest in data analysis is based on a recognition that data sets sourced through customer POS behavior on the web or via opinions generated from online communities and blogs are now more economically available, and are increasingly driving marketing decisions at the expense of traditional market research.

The growth of “analytics” is not new. SPSS’ decision to move its focus away from MR to analytics in 2005 was early recognition of the trend. What is new is that Saas provides a platform where relatively small teams (such as market research departments) can now afford to control their own analytical processes and outputs.

Opportunities for End Clients

Access to Saas-based analytics allows end clients to:

  • Interrogate data sets to discover new insights long after the original project was completed
  • Contrast and combine results from multiple studies
  • Expand the scope of the market research function to cover analysis of data from sources other than primary market research projects
  • Grant restricted access to third parties who can provide analytical services on a project by project basis

Effect on research industry structure

The increased use of alternative data sets and Saas-based analytics is leading to the disaggregation of data collection, undermining the positioning of “integrated research providers”.

While client-side researchers are increasingly likely to take control of data analysis, they may still decide to outsource analytical tasks, opening up opportunities for analytically focused agencies to work on a broader array of data sets than the integrated providers.

Strategic considerations for agencies

Should the trend to Saas-based analytics continue, agencies that are relying on a full-service market positioning might want to reconsider their strategy. While the positioning of full-service agencies is likely to be under greater threat, smaller agencies that have strong analytical capabilities might consider broadening their scope to provide outsourced analytical services regardless of data source.

There will also continue to be a market for recognized “high-end” providers where the reputation of the provider is critical to the analysis being accepted by stakeholders. However, agencies competing in this arena will also be competing with high-end management consultancies.

Insight communication

Current status

New Saas-based systems, marketed as Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) or Portals, allow client-side research teams to access and re-use past research.

The outputs from most research projects are still contained in large, single PowerPoint files. While this format may be effective as an aid to a personal presentation, it is an ineffective means of distributing information through a browser.

In contrast, many other marketing information providers have reformatted their outputs to maximise its impact via the browser. As a result, critical information contained within research reports is being overlooked.

Opportunities for End Clients

Saas-based KMS give corporate research teams the opportunity to:

  • Increase efficiency by giving internal clients direct on-line access to past research
  • Position themselves as sources of competitive advantage for their organizations by converting research from a series of once-off expenses to a cumulative strategic asset that can be used and re-used over time
  • Broaden the scope of the research function by incorporating other sources of marketing information into their systems
  • Track the extent to which research provided is being accessed across their organizations

Effect on research industry structure

If web-based delivery becomes the dominant channel for communicating research, the method of packaging and presenting outputs will need to change to ensure information from these projects is not overlooked. Successful examples include:

  • Automated collation of past research matched directly to marketer’s specific responsibilities
  • Creation of separate key findings that are integrated into annual marketing planning processes
  • Capture and dissemination of lessons learned when doing research to increase the collective knowledge of the research team
  • Cross- project collation of objectives and outputs, to pro-actively identify knowledge gaps as input for future projects

Strategic considerations for agencies

Agencies might want to consider alternative methods for packaging their results into multiple smaller files that more closely match the way people consume information through a browser, therefore extending the use of their findings beyond the final presentation.

Also, while agencies are often requested to “add broader insight”, the use of client-controlled research repositories is likely to see this task shift to internal research teams as the task requires a deep understanding of the organization’s markets, strategy and decision making processes. Agencies wanting to provide greater insight to their clients would therefore be better served by developing knowledge of specific market sectors.


The growth of Cloud Computing and Saas-based applications undermines the structure of the research industry by:

  1. Removing some of the responsibility from research agencies and taking it back into the market research team
  2. Removing the technological economies of scale that traditionally defined the structure of the agency business model

However, the technological shift does not undermine the relevance of research.

In ensuring the relevance of research, perhaps we would be better served to think of research as a profession, rather than as an industry attempting to maintain historical boundaries between tasks carried out by client or agency. By focusing on increasing skills in data collection, analysis and communication that leverage new technology, we are more likely to see corporate decision makers recognize the value of internal research teams as a source of strategic advantage and the development of vibrant agency businesses in support.

Sushi versus the Fine Dining Experience: Research Findings In Bite-Sized Chunks

August 29, 2010

See this article published on http://www.mrweb.com/mrt/pre10aug.htm

Ever wondered what happened to all those fine dining restaurants? You know the ones; small, darkly lit where the maître d is required to explain everything on the menu and you have to wait at least half an hour before the specially cooked meal is presented, then sit politely while the waiter explains that the organic peas were freshly picked this morning by Buddhist monks in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

The fine dining experience may have been the mainstay of the restaurant industry a generation ago, but now good quality gourmet food can be easily accessed in casual dining venues, pushing the fine dining experience into smaller niche markets.

So what does this have to do with the research industry? Well, typically the way research is presented is in a small darkened room, where the purpose of the study is reviewed, then the results are served up, taking great care to explain confidence intervals, segment descriptions, and limitations on how the research can be applied.

While there might be parallels between the high service levels of fine dining and the way research has been traditionally presented, is research in danger of being marginalized by new trends in the same way that fine dining has been? Has the way decision-makers consume information changed since the research industry discovered PowerPoint back in the 1980’s?

Of course, the biggest change to how people access information has been the internet, and for many companies, the corporate intranet. The browser has increasingly become the dominant channel through which information is accessed and decisions made. What’s more, the age of Google has brought with it an increased expectation that people should be able to find the answer to any question, any time, via an online source.

Research was initially deemed inappropriate for this channel, as the information produced is often confidential and seen as relevant only to senior people within the organization. However, changes in web technology now mean that decision-makers can ‘self-serve’ an organization’s information anywhere across their business locations, while still protecting sensitive information. So what does the research industry do in this new environment when the pinnacle of achievement has traditionally been the equivalent of presenting a formal four-course meal?

One innovation that takes advantage of the trend to more casual food consumption has been the sushi train conveyor belt, where small parcels of food can be selected by customers without getting out of their seat, and either consumed as a single dish or combined with other dishes to make a more substantial meal. In the same way, many other marketing information providers are now creating much smaller parcels of information that can be easily accessed through the browser, with the option to link to and consume with other information.

Market research can also adapt and benefit from this new trend, and increase the influence of research across the business. While the research industry has been late to embrace these new trends, some innovative examples are appearing. Web-based research management systems are allowing organizations to:

  • Create stand-alone separate key findings and implications classified not just by project, but also based on the strategic imperatives of the business. These can be easily accessed and consumed through the browser, or be directly integrated into annual marketing plans
  • Record research learnings against project methodologies that can then be directly applied when new projects draw on similar methodologies
  • Automatically create cross- project reports such as objectives and output summaries, allowing researchers to identify how and where research has been applied, as input for future projects

These research management systems give researchers and decision-makers the ability to self- select and combine pieces of information from multiple projects, and control who can see what.

Of course, there are many challenges for researchers in adapting to this delivery method. Our traditional focus has been on providing the information equivalent of a four-course meal, but attempts to serve full research reports through the browser have been as successful as Sunday roasts on the sushi conveyor belt.

While many traditional researchers will view this new way of consuming information as an affront to the professionalism and purity of their research, new adaptive agencies are taking advantage of the trends in how information is accessed to increase the use of research for their clients, often outside of the scope of the original project.

And while there will always be a place for the research equivalent of the fine dining experience, it’s also worth noting that unused research is worth as much as unconsumed food, no matter how much it costs to prepare.

Flexibility is the name of the game: Ensuring the research portal is an effective tool for internal clients and the research team

May 2, 2010

It has only been in more recent years that individuals have been able to access research insights across a global organization. Prior to this, the technology simply did not exist. Research tended to be restricted within a country or team, and findings had a limited shelf life and were all but forgotten once the next research program started. Research portals put a stop to this, creating a completely different way of utilizing research insights. Now used by leading businesses across the world, portals ensure that research is placed at the heart of an organization and is fully utilized so that research ROI is maximized.

But how do businesses ensure the research portal is accessible to all research stakeholders, ensuring maximum effectiveness across the organization while maintaining security?

Internal clients, the research team (and increasingly, suppliers) need to be able to utilize the portal to quickly find the information they require and add new information. In reviewing the effectiveness of their research portals for different research stakeholders, many organizations have made an important discovery about the different needs of users: Internal clients tend to be document-oriented, while research teams are project-oriented.

Typically, when internal clients search a repository they “just want to find the specific information they need”. They want the bottom line research results and insights, and they want to be able to quickly access only that information. In contrast, researchers have a more comprehensive interest in entire research projects. They are interested in:

  1. A broad range of project documents including initial project requests, RFPs, supplier proposals, stimulus materials, survey instruments, respondent data sets etc, as well as final reports and presentations
  2. Information about the project itself including project initiator, manager, supplier, project history, data collection periods, supplier performance, budget, actual costs etc

Research portals are most successful when they are able to serve all user constituents, giving them access to information in a format that is compatible with their role and responsibilities. As the internet is increasingly sophisticated in knowing who we are, where we are and what we’re interested in, expectations for corporate intranets have been elevated as well.

Whether you are improving an existing portal or starting from scratch, a standard requirement today is the ability to format and present information based on the needs of individuals, helping different types of users to quickly access the information they require by using a role-based structure. This structure allows organizations to:

  • Restrict portal access and direct users to pages that match their specific information needs
  • Pre-format simple and advanced search options to ensure ease of use by key users
  • Pre-format search results so that only information relevant to users is displayed
  • Restrict user’s ability to add or modify project or document information, based on the organization’s internal policies for initiating and managing research projects

Look for a portal that can be set up to match the needs of any research stakeholder and other roles set up by the platform, including:

  1. Research Vice Presidents: Where users do not directly participate in projects, but may oversee global work in progress, or be involved in tasks that include budget setting and tracking, preferred supplier selection, and use policies
  2. Agencies: Where users can only access and edit open projects where they have been identified as the selected supplier

By recognizing the different needs of individuals within a business, portals can “fast-track” users to the information and processes they need, ensuring that research is accessible right across the organization.

The changing face of business: Evolving to meet the needs of a commercial organization

March 8, 2010

Leading businesses from around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that research portals can bring to their business, delivering increased research ROI by broadening and lengthening the use of research after a study is complete. Research teams are starting to invest in research portals designed to meet their current needs and those of their internal clients, but many are finding that these systems do not have the flexibility to evolve as needs change. As a consequence, organizations persist with portals that gradually become obsolete and then go through a disruptive change to realign the portal to meet the new requirements of their organization.

So how do global research teams implement a portal platform that is flexible enough to deal with the ongoing needs of a changing business?

There are a number of reasons cited by research teams for realigning their research portals. These include:

1. Changes in the use of technology for market research projects:
Internet-based sampling, panels, questionnaire design and delivery, and data analysis are changing industry dynamics, altering the way that activities are shared between research agencies and research buyers. Corporate research portals need to be able to integrate these new activities if they are to continue to provide process efficiencies for research teams.

2. Changes in the role of market research teams:
Many market research teams are achieving higher profiles across their business by including other customer insight functions within their portal. As companies get smarter about analyzing data more holistically, activities such as competitor intelligence, secondary research, sales and CRM-analysis are increasingly being integrated into (or at least aligned with) research teams. Research portals therefore need to be capable of integrating this information, while also recognizing that the dynamics for creating, analyzing and distributing this information is fundamentally different to primary research.

3. Organizational restructuring:
Research portals need to retain an organization’s historical market knowledge, but also adapt to the new structures and processes of the business. This adaptation is particularly important when new staff, who are unfamiliar with the previous organizational structure, need to access information.

Realigning hardwired research portals is difficult, time consuming and costly. It can be compounded by:

1. Low priorities for non “mission critical” applications by the internal IT department
2. Lack of understanding of the nature and dynamics of research within the internal IT department
3. Understandably low levels of expertise at creating technical specifications within the research team
4. The cost and time required to change the portal structure, which often appear disproportionate to the potential benefits

Portals such as Research Reporter are designed to evolve as clients’ needs change and its unique in-browser customization tool allows research portals to be updated in real time with no disruption to existing users, no development time, and typically no additional cost. Using the in-browser configuration tool, Research Reporter’s clients can:

1. Access more than 200 pre-built functions that have been developed based on feedback from other market research teams
2. Add additional “information types” to match the expanding role of market research. Examples of new information types added include competitive intelligence, on-line publications, action plans, insights databases etc
3. Reconfigure workflow activities and build in links to other web-enabled services such as on-line surveys, panels etc
4. Refresh the look and feel of their portal to create a seamless link with the corporate intranet

As a result, organizations can avoid the risk of making the use of the portal obsolete and the disruption typically caused by upgrading their portal to match their new requirements.

In addition to managing a portfolio of research projects, research teams must now continuously understand and evaluate new technologies and tools for data capture, sample management, survey design and data interrogation. These tools focus on the source data for research projects, and are typically presented and explained by the research agencies who attempt to differentiate their service based on their use. In contrast, research teams typically rely on the internal IT department to learn about tools that can be used to help manage research outputs within the organization itself.

Problems experienced by some research teams in relying on their internal IT team to help evaluate new technologies for managing the market research function include:

1. The desire to utilize generic document or project management tools that do not fit the multi-level needs of market research
2. Over-estimating the technical capabilities of market research users
3. Lack of understanding of the research function
4. Lack of IT resource generally

Research Reporter is continuously updated to provide research teams with access to new tools to help them manage the research function, and its subscription-based model gives organizations access to new components and tools without additional costs. Also, all Research Reporter components are based on ideas generated by the market research buying community and built specifically for the use of market research teams.

As a result, organizations using Research Reporter do not have to “bridge the gap” between their own research-specific requirements and the generic solutions typically on offer through the IT department.