Research and insights firms: increase your resilience and profitability with these three steps from ESOMAR and AIDA

February 10, 2022

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ESOMAR and AIDA explore three steps your research and insights business can take to make the most of new digital solutions and increase resilience and profitability.

Adapting to new digital technologies has always been a driver of profitability for research and insights firms. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made technology even more important. With a global shift to remote and hybrid working, accessible digital solutions have been vital to maintaining productivity.

But how can you be sure you’re making the most of the digital solutions available to maximize your profitability and resilience? With the help of members of ESOMAR and the Australian Data and Insights Association (ADIA), we’ve identified three steps to help research and insight companies protect their business – and their profits – in these uncertain times.

1. Enhance collaboration amongst remote teams

To explore this step, we looked to London-based company IFF Research – which won the MRS 2020 Award for Operational Excellence. Like many other firms, IFF had to switch to remote and online working rapidly at the start of the pandemic.

IFF looked for ways to support its staff in this new way of working – introducing group chat sessions, virtual events, and a buddy system to protect staff wellbeing. It also introduced measures to retain productivity by holding virtual meetings in small groups to keep them fast and focused.

The research firm also introduced Deltek’s ERP solution. IFF’s CEO Jan Shury tells us: “Whilst the transition has taken time, it provides greater visibility of information. This helps us to understand what we have done, and to use that as predictors of what we will be able to achieve.”

The visibility provided by the ERP allows IFF’s employees to access all the information on the system from their remote locations. They can see what stage each project is at and collaborate more efficiently.

2. Set the right digital strategy

Agencies thrive when they implement a strategy that offers dynamic digital services. This allows them to provide customers with predictive data on emerging trends and patterns by using artificial intelligence (AI) and other powerful analytics tools.

But like any implementation of new technology, the way you adopt new digital strategies is essential. Taking a step-by-step approach is vital to success – a point that Evolved, a member of ADIA and winner of ESOMAR’s 2019 award for Innovation and Technology, found out as it employed new technology.

Evolved invited some of its clients to try out a new service, ensuring that clients’ historical and in-house data were incorporated into the system. Introducing new services slowly helps mitigate any wariness clients may have about changing technology.

Evolved’s CEO Garreth Chandler advises businesses to embrace new technology solutions: “Don’t assume that it’s necessarily more expensive, or requires much more expertise, because one of the advances of the last decade has been open architecture, meaning a far more flexible world where API’s can help organizations use technology to build quite complex ecosystems.”


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5 critical steps that ESOMAR and ADIA members believe will make your Research and Insights firm become more resilient and profitable.

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3. Optimize your resources, talent and expertise

The pandemic has put enormous pressure on firms to make the most of their resources and budgets. So, doing more with what you already have is vital.

Market research firm, Kadence UK was a company that was greatly affected by the pandemic. Country manager Darren Lewis had projects put on hold through the most challenging parts of the lockdowns: “We participated in the furlough scheme where the government paid a proportion of some employees’ wages for a period. We have always prided ourselves on the quality of our work, so maintaining this and investing time to explain new online methods to clients was difficult with a lower headcount.”

Kadence moved its projects to a digital format, running webinars and training sessions to keep clients up to speed with its new digital solutions. And as a global business, it focused on finding native language speakers for interviews and translation – to gain an invaluable understanding of clients’ linguistic and cultural nuances across the globe.

Lewis also made sure his team members were using their knowledge effectively across Kadence UK’s clients: “We have a team of specialists in terms of research knowledge, techniques and experience, and generalists in terms of the sectors that people cover. You often get briefings where you need to mix methodologies, and you want to have a consistent team working with the client.”

Implement the right technology and secure a profitable future

Although the shift to home working was a massive upheaval for many businesses, hybrid and remote working are here to stay. Fortunately, technology has introduced new flexible ways of working and collaborating, meaning research and insight companies can work more efficiently and closely with their clients. We’re already seeing how firms that can use new solutions to their advantage see an increase in their profitability and ability to mitigate disruption.

We explore each of these steps – and two more – in greater depth in our white paper, created with ESOMAR and ADIA: Top 5 critical steps to make your research and insights firm more profitable.

Or, if you’d like more bespoke advice on making the most of new technologies, speak to a Deltek expert to explore the options available for your own firm.


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