In the most recent Greenbook GRIT Report, an article appeared from Rebecca West of CiviCom Marketing Research Services, an industry-leading supplier of qualitative technology solutions. It was a question, and a very pertinent one: “Is your organization’s technology strategy where it needs to be?”
The question itself is a very important one. While it may be difficult, defining a modern tech strategy and following it is critical to today’s fast-moving market research industry. You need to stay competitive and you need to protect your respondent data. Your technology choices play a key role in that.
Ms. West has created a 10-step list to identifying whether your organization’s technology strategy is where it needs to be. Below, we have added commentary that connects the list to an evaluation of your quantitative survey software. Because that’s kinda our thing.
This falls into three areas – Tech services you may market now or want to, evolving Cybersecurity demands, and legal requirements, such as the looming data protection requirements in various countries, including our own.
Market research firms live and die on the strength of their ability to gather data and turn it into impactful insights. So ensure that your survey software lets you promote yourself as able to handle any complexity of survey project, across any survey channel, and that the data itself will be secure.
This is known as a Gap Analysis. This gives you an understanding of the spread between where you are with hardware, software, security, resources, etc., and where you need to be, and what steps should be taken to ensure the variance between the two is closed.
This evaluation of your current solution will give you the benchmark to beat. Does your survey software offer abilities in offline channels? Is your client’s data as secure as they need it to be? Is it compliant with industry regulations? How complicated is the software to use, and is its complexity costing your team wasted time and money via resources?
This is your game plan arising from the results of your Gap Analysis, after your rank what is necessary and what is desirable. Most necessary steps require being compliant or keeping marketable technologies up to date. Desirable is usually where you want to go in the marketplace.
Close the gap. After steps 1 and 2, you will better understand what the market research industry demands, and where you stand as a research supplier thanks to your current survey technology. If it’s not a strong enough value proposition to your clients, begin planning how you can fill the gap with a more flexible technology that helps you provide more solutions to more clients.
Tag specific steps to each tech goal and apply a timetable and ownership to each. Put timetables on software that can be accessed by internal stakeholders to see progress against goals. Hold regularly scheduled meetings that require accountability.
This step assigns accountability to the transition. be sure to evaluate the transition time to a new software, including training, survey replication and data transfer (note: with a little help, it’s not as hard as it sounds).
The link between business strategy and technology plays an important role in organizational success. Who governs the relationship between IT and the business is critical. The tech and business teams must be committed to working together toward a common goal and committed to resolving conflicts as they arise.
Ensure that the leaders within your organization understand the value of a better survey software.
Not all tech people are created equal. The skills you need may include the flexibility to move seamlessly from one programming language to another, to understand the business you are in and not just the technology, and to have a vision for forward-thinking solution-building.
Ensure the IT team understands how you plan to use the survey tools, including how you hope to store data, so that they can help you enhance the technical offering of your pitch for potential survey projects.
Be knowledgeable about disruptive forces that could cause your organization to stumble. Some of these are tech threats like ransomware attacks, but some are tech trends, like automation or artificial intelligence, with potential to usurp the services you provide.
It’s hard to emphasize enough how important it is to keep survey data secure. But once the reality of that threat has been evaluated, and you have chosen a secure SaaS or on-premise solution that fits your needs, be sure to also evaluate how the research industry is advancing and evolving. Don’t let a known threat on Day 1 surprise you a short while later.
Identify threats, vulnerabilities and their likelihood of occurring. Build a culture where employees feel compelled to report an incident, should it occur, and not be tempted to sweep it under the rug.
Take those identified threats, and really dig deep into how important they could be to your organization’s future. What is the likelihood of a data hack? And if it happens, what would be the repercussions? What are the chances of AI replacing more traditional surveys in the near future? Plan for the worst, and you’ll never have to face the smaller challenges unprepared.
Know the requirements of your existing applications and the resources required to maintain or develop them further. Technology tradeoffs can include having to choose between introducing a new product, broadening sales efforts, or hiring more employees.
You have chosen the right data collection tools for the market. Now ensure that you’re not paying for more than you will use. To awkwardly transition to selling mode, Voxco offers a far more competitive price than most of the highest-priced platforms in the industry. It’s a price that can fluctuate based on usage, or can be a single cost for unlimited use. Understand pricing options, and find a way that they work best for your own funding reality.
For a strategy to be effective, it should both create and deliver value. For an organization’s technology strategy in the digital age, this is an ongoing process.
Excellent closing thoughts. Your survey technology should be a value-maker to prospective clients. Offering multichannel surveys, hosted securely on your own premises, at a flexible price that fits your own fluctuating needs – that could become a real deal-maker for new clients, leading to more sales, and more revenue. And that’s the point of constant evaluation of your organization’s technology strategy.