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Moving Research Forward … at the Speed of Business

The following is an excerpt from Moving at the Speed of Business, a new report that explores a range of methods that market researchers can use to quickly and simply quantify information to build confidence and incite action across the company.

The world we live in today comes with an unfamiliar set of demands. The fast pace at which information flows and the proliferating connectivity among people, everywhere, means our environment is essentially unpredictable. Our traditional approaches to forecasting and planning — and generating knowledge — are grounded in the idea that conditions remain stable, that “noise” can be eliminated from our models, and that companies can learn and grow on their own, in isolation.

But companies are not islands. Customers, whom business has traditionally treated as living “outside” the corporate garden walls, are as integral to a company’s culture, brands, and identity as are its employees or shareholders.

But too often our go-to research methods (or how we habitually apply them) hinder, rather than help, our progress. Our tendency to emphasize validation and confirmation ultimately slows down the learning process and provides a false, oh-so-20th-century sense of certainty. The insight or market research function should be an engine for learning and growth; working with customers throughout the product and service development lifecycle, and collaborating with internal stakeholders to drive action.

Moving forward, insights groups must re-invent how to conduct research for this century; so that it embraces exploration and discovery, engages people on their terms, and fosters long-term relationships between companies and the customers they serve. We no longer have the time or the luxury to conduct perfect and meticulous studies to address every business question. Twenty-first century research must be pragmatic and flexible. It’s up to us to figure out the approaches to take and the methods to use in order to give our stakeholders the information, and inspiration, they need to act — and move at the speed of business.

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