Quirks Marketing Research Review November 2016 : Page 53

But the real issue isn’t centralizing a repository but synthesizing the learning and producing briefs summarizing the in-sights. This requires a broad skill set that encompasses marketing research, market analytics, etc. It also requires the ability to pull multiple strands together. Neither of these are prevalent in insight depart-ments today. The added problem is insight departments are structured and funded to carry out projects, not to review and synthesize information and this task can-not be delegated to junior people.” In the eyes of another research leader, the labor-intensive nature of the work and historical absence of technology are the most critical hur-dles facing advocates of synthesis: “T he barriers to synthesis are not skills but time and technology. There are bits of technology that can synthesize but connect-ing the dots all the way from attitudinal/ organic data sources like ethnography all the way to behavioral and close the loop to insights … is tough to do now. It is highly manual and personalized to the researcher and not really scalable.” Outside parties can provide the manpower and expertise to pro-vide a stopgap solution. Costs range dramatically depending on whether a management consultant is hired versus a less-expensive independent contractor. A frequent downside is that the insight department can lose control of these initiatives especially when granted to a major consulting firm. Unfortunately, in these cases, insights departments will rarely get much or any credit for the informa-tion or insights they provide. How can we implement it? Not surprising, there is no silver bullet or clear-cut set of solutions that will dramatically increase an insights department’s ability to produce big synthesis. The good news is, a series of complementary steps tailored to your organization can be incrementally adopted to increase capability such as: • Build credibility by conducting one or two syntheses on issues critical to management. Provide insights to all the different inter-www.quirks.com nal audiences/functions vested in addressing these issues. Creating success stories will help build the case for adding capacity. • Acquire staff with the proven abil-ity to conduct syntheses or train targeted staff members with an aptitude and interest in doing this type of work. Possessing at least one individual on your staff famil-iar with the process will greatly increase the ability to produce and direct synthesis work. • Adopt a rigorous and cred-ible process for conducting the syntheses. This should include a planning process, means of organizing the information and reporting standards. • Build an outside network of experts and suppliers capable of doing synthesis work under depart-mental direction and control. This builds capacity without the burden of adding internal overhead. • Adopt new search-engine and data visualization technology designed for survey studies. Historically, industry software has not been available to allow effective and efficient mining of a department’s survey data at the respondent and individual question level. This is no longer the case. The last point on technology warrants greater elaboration. Sea changes are rapidly advancing tech-nological capabilities in our indus-try. Different software applications and dashboards are already well in play to more effectively manage con-tinuous sources like brand/advertis-ing trackers, customer satisfaction, CRM and syndicated data. A major historical roadblock has been the management and mining of custom-er research studies for insights. This is particularly acute for the more strategic studies such as segmenta-tion, brand equity, A&Us, shopper studies, problem detection, etc. Today, firms such as KnowledgeHound offer software enabling an insights department to not only organize all their research reports but search and graph infor-mation down to the question and respondent level for quantitative studies. This represents a major step in terms of allowing an ana-lyst to quickly synthesize informa-tion from their customer research studies. Advances of this nature will continue to enhance synthesis capabilities over time. Seek to capitalize Big synthesis is a powerful approach that can elevate an insights depart-ment’s contributions and stature within its organization. As insights functions increasingly recognize and seek to capitalize on this opportu-nity, it will no doubt lead to greater industry adoption of the methods and strategies outlined here. Blair Peters is a senior partner in the Greensboro, N.C., office of Glenview, Ill.-based Solution Partners Consulting. He can be reached at blair.peters@ solutionpartners.com. November 2016 // Quirk’s Marketing Research Review 53

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