Scientific research is undergoing rapid transformation and becoming a highly competitive global enterprise. As a provider of research intelligence to this community, we need to keep up with that transformation and involve our customers constantly in our business decisions. But with over 6 million researchers spread across the world and with us working primarily out of Amsterdam and New York, we have to be creative in capturing that voice of the customer without spending most of our lives at the airport. We thought to ourselves, “If we can’t bring the company to our customers, maybe we can try bringing our customers to the company instead.” And thus we launched Innovation Explorers: 2 online communities uniting 300 researchers and 150 librarians from over 69 countries.
We see our communities as a microcosm of the broader research landscape and we’re learning from that engagement. One emerging – and paradoxical – theme that many researchers are facing is that they need to collaborate in order to compete with one another. As one Explorer commented, “So many people are working on the same topic e.g….cancer, HIV, heart diseases… they are competing with others to publish first.” At the same time, multi-disciplinary research is increasingly mandated by funding bodies as real-world problems span across disciplines and geographic boundaries and researchers are compelled to collaborate to get their research done.
This emerging theme has implications for our offerings to researchers. What is perceived as a competitive intelligence tool by some is regarded as a collaboration tool by others. In the world which our users inhabit, collaboration and competition are two sides of the same coin. And that dual perception impacts how we develop and market our solutions going forward.