3 Lessons Learned from Corporate Researchers
Last week I attended the Corporate Researchers Conference (CRC) in Dallas, organized by the Marketing Research Association (MRA). It was an outstanding event. I had considered having Versta exhibit at this conference, but I’m glad I did not. Why? Because instead of being in a booth talking about Versta, I did the opposite. I went to every presentation and every gathering I could and learned about the challenges faced by corporate researchers—the very people we strive to help.
Here are my top three takeaways from the conference, all of them both humbling and inspiring:
1. The biggest threat corporate researchers face is having research ignored. If business units aren’t using research to make decisions, then corporate researchers are failing. It’s not enough to deliver reports, manage rigor, keep up with methods, or manage seamless flows of information and dashboards. The research needs to measurably change how decisions are being made. There is no point otherwise, and that’s when budgets, staffing, and departments disappear, and that’s when businesses are more likely to fail (thanks, especially, to Larry Cesnik, at LifeScan/Johnson & Johnson, for this insight).
2. The biggest challenge is to deliver relevant business information quickly and on limited budgets. The research model of issuing RFPs, launching protracted data collection, and then delivering findings via big reports and final presentations is not so practical anymore. Corporate researchers need creative new ways to find data, field research, and deliver targeted information to business partners who are always shifting strategies and developing ideas to respond to markets in real time. It’s not that research suppliers need to do the same work we have always done cheaper and faster – we need to change what we do.
3. Finding smart vendors with PhDs is not on the radar. That’s the humbling one for me, but really it should be obvious. Nobody wants to devote time to finding new vendors. Corporate researchers want to focus on their own work, serving the internal businesses, and they want the tools and suppliers to be there helping them succeed. Being smart, getting the data right, knowing the latest analysis techniques are (or should be!) table stakes for any research supplier.
Of course suppliers like Versta Research play a critical role in all of this; our brainpower and broad range of expertise lays a crucial foundation that corporate researchers rely upon. But the challenge for us is to provide help in deeper and more immediate ways (like turning data into stories!) that address the most pressing business concerns that corporate researchers face.
Next year’s CRC is in our hometown Chicago, and I’m already making plans to be there. We hope to see you there, as well!