Tea and Sympathy
All posts from: February 2009
There seems to have been lots of talk recently about clients moving to doing research in house. With the growth of online research and software programs for questionnaires that are nice and easy to use, the argument goes that clients can save money and get things done quicker by doing it themselves. In testing times like these that makes a lot of sense, why not miss out the middle man?
To be honest I am pretty ambivalent about this. There is a lot of research where this seems to make sense – anything where the questions are simply repeated wave after wave or surveys testing a number of different and very simple options. Suppliers should be concentrating on adding value, either in the form of ideas, scale or analysis. If all we do is manage the research process and program a questionnaire then of course there is little point in us being around.
But of course this isn’t most research. Most projects aren’t fully defined from the beginning; we add ideas, techniques, insights and our experience throughout the project, from design to execution to output. So it isn’t a threat to our core business but it probably will reduce some work for some agencies.
A similar trend that seems to me to be more interesting is the number of clients splitting research projects. We have come across a few clients recently who talk about getting another company to do the basic project management and fieldwork while they ask us to focus on design, analysis and outputs. This keeps both companies focused on their core task, avoiding many of the problems associated with large scale projects where clients complain of overlong reports and lack of direction. The reality all suppliers know is that the type of person or team that is good at managing a large fieldwork project is not the type of person or team that is good at communicating the results in an engaging manner. These are different skill sets and despite larger companies saying they have both skills in house these are rarely in the same team.
So expect to see more of both clients doing research themselves and clients splitting projects across multiple agencies. Both of these should keep all us suppliers on our toes…..