At the Marketing Research Association’s Corporate Researcher Conference in St. Louis today, Barry Jennings of Microsoft and Paul Janowitz of icanmakeitbetter discussed “how moving from a project-based insights organization to a process-based organization produces results that are better, faster and actually less expensive.”

“Research does not matter, business outcomes do,” Barry said. “That means – faster, smaller, more often and tied to innovation. When it comes launching new products, I’m a baseball player, I bat .233, not 1,000. We have to move further and further from the idea of a project.” Insight communities are one way to do this. “We have to fail faster and push through things. A process is the key to success.”

“Research does not matter,” Paul echoed. “Being right does. The more tools, the more ways to ask the right questions in a timely manner. I was raised as a good Gallup boy, being unbiased. I think you can be unbiased and be right.”

Paul said, “Project-based insights are fights but process provides integration. You’re not fighting for budget. The social media department isn’t fighting for budget for social listening.”

“What if research created fresh insights constantly, accelerating innovation and helping you to get to market faster?” Barry asked. “You need the right answer faster than the other guy. We need constant touchpoints to figure things out, to have our finger on the pulse of many people at one time.”

Barry now has data scientists on the research team. They bring behavioral insights but not always context.

“Think of your employees. There’s a lot of feedback between the annual survey they get sent,” said Paul. “But you can’t send them a survey every day.”

Sondors Electric Bike funded to $6 million in 45 days on Indiegogo and had the clients.  “Like a survey that required a credit-card number if the respondent really wanted to purchase.”

“Research is everywhere out there now,” said Paul. “They work great for B2C, but not so well for B2B.”

“We can get 260,000 people to answer two questions in one day.”

To move from project to process, needs to engage customers with “ongoing, timely dialogue to create business impact. It becomes like an Indiegogo campaign. Don’t let research be a roadblock, a barrier to innovation.”

Projects are point-in-time with limited impact. Processes get integrated into the business and increase velocity and accelerate innovation to generate revenue. “A process-based approach delivers more insights, faster, cheaper for better products, services, and customer experiences.” The other benefit: “Processes are repeatable and portable – across jobs and companies – and get better over time.”

To move to process-based research, implement a platform that will enable you to create, share, and act upon conversations with a regular body of prospects and customers to drive innovation, engage customers, and conduct market research. A good platform supports quantitative research, qualitative research, live chats, digital diaries, social ideation, and more, with members profiled and segmented. Conversations between members produce emergent ideas that would never have been prompted by standard discussion guides.

Paul shared the example of a community recruited from lost customers, who were able to be engaged to join a community and contribute feedback over time.

Process methodologies produce longitudinal data over time, creating a network effect for Business Intelligence as community members answer many small surveys over time.

The mission of research must use insights to help drive the business, and process-based research helps make that happen.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.