The New Year prompted the release of a myriad of predictive articles as to what the future of market research will look like. Adaptability and flexibility seem to be the main themes of the insights industry in 2019, along with the continued rise of AI and machine learning technology automating market research processes. But in this article, I want to focus on a topic that received mention, but little widespread attention — integrated research platforms.
What is an Integrated Research Platform?
An integrated research platform is a tool that facilitates end-to-end market research, from creation, to recruitment and sampling, to data collection and analysis. It is the unification of market research processes and methodologies in one online platform for convenience and continuous insight generation.
Insight Industry Challenges
With the demands of the insights industry constantly changing it can be daunting to try and predict its future needs, and in turn, it can be a challenge to design research strategies that will continue to evolve alongside the industry.
With the demands of the insights industry constantly changing it can be hard to predict its future needs, and thus, it can be a challenge to design research strategies that will evolve alongside the industry.
In the blog, The Future of the Market Research Industry, Euromonitor International state that “Market researchers are increasingly asked to be accurate yet fast, tech-savvy yet methodologically pure, robust in detail yet able to quickly and succinctly deliver visual insights.” This is an extraordinarily accurate representation of the demands of the insights industry, and so any future innovations that occur must try to cater for this sentiment in order to be successful.
Researchers are less traditional now than they were. They need to be creatives and presenters in order to share their research with the world. But they need to also be data and behavioural scientists in order to use the extensive range of research methodologies available. Qualitative and quantitative research techniques are expanding rapidly in accordance to technological and societal advances. Behavioural science allows for more candidly illustrative insights to be gathered on consumer behaviour, and predictive techniques are always sought after in order for businesses to prepare for the next consumer trend.
Full of challenges, the future promises many opportunities for innovators to try and cater to these demands. Is the integrated platform one of the innovative responses to the challenges the future of market research presents?
Applications of Integrated Platforms
One of the predictions in Greenbook’s 2019 blog states that we should expect to see more integrated solutions in future innovations.
And it’s true that the integrated research platform offers many advantages that cater to the expected needs of the insights industry. The first is advantage is that a platform of this nature has an inherent adaptability to incorporate new industry innovations and methodologies. Such a platform can evolve and adapt to incorporate new tools of all disciplines under the umbrella of market research, which allows researchers to use the latest methods to enhance the resulting strategies.
Within an integrated platform, all of the tools are available in one single space for the convenience of everyone using the platform; while the main users are the researchers and data analysts, the users on the other end of the platform can be participants and stakeholders. And, of course, most modern research platforms are hosted online, enabling personalised access to the projects being conducted and the data being generated. Breaking down internal silos in this way and levelling access to data between researchers and stakeholders is vital to transforming insight into action.
Integrated platforms are also able to accommodate both short-term and continuous research projects through the direct access to pre-profiled panels of participants. Short-term projects benefit from the continuous access combined with all the tools being together on one place as surveys and other research projects can be designed and set up easily and quickly. While within long-term projects, tasks can be set up in line with the short-term project benefits, however there is the added benefit of continuous monitoring of participant activity which can provide extra in-depth detail that will further inform the insights generated.
The inherent adaptability of integrated platforms allows for continuous development and innovative evolution in order to mold it into the research platform that businesses need at any time. New demands can be incorporated as much as possible, allowing a longevity that other non-integrated platforms won’t be able to achieve. Some automation techniques are currently being conducted within integrated platforms today in order to streamline processes such as researcher-participant communication and data reporting and visualisation techniques; while fully automated research is a concept that has yet to be achieved, it is a concept that can be applied to integrated research platforms in the future.
Examples of Integrated Insight Platforms
Currently, there are a number of market research firms that have created different variations of the integrated insight platform in order to offer custom research opportunities to businesses and insights professionals:
- Zappi — This firm has developed a platform that automates research tasks, providing insights that help firms enhance product development and advertising processes.
- FuelCycle — This is a cloud-based platform that allows researchers to access a multitude of research and analytical tools from different research providers.
- InsightHub — Our own integrated insights platform enables flexible personalised research experiences; it can be tailored with a choice of ten specially designed qualitative and quantitative tools to best fit individual research requirements.
As we can see, the creation and use of integrated platforms scales market research alongside business demands. With the personalisation and all-in-one nature of the integrated platform, initial business research requirements can be met directly, and any unforeseen requirements that crop up during the course of the research project can be addressed typically without any hassle or interruption to the research currently being conducted. This allows businesses to fully control the amount of time and money being put into the research throughout the entirety of the project.
With the requirements being demanded of researchers, the integrated research platform is a tool that can be personalised to the requirements of each client or researcher in order to produce the insights being requested.
Integrated platforms can provide the benefits of online communities, continuous and short term research projects, and participant monitoring in one easy place, as well as the flexibility to incorporate a variety of different research methodologies included in the broad spectrum of market research.
In the terms of evolutionary adaptability, the integrated platform is the research tool that is built to last as it has the potential to meet whatever requirements the insights industry might have in the future.
The original version of this article appeared on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.