Market research-Tool for driving business growth

Biswapriya Bhattacharjee, Vice President, Technology Research Practice, IMRB International

In the current business environment, Information is at the core to driving any business growth.  Leaders of today are expected to have information on their finger-tips based on which they can take decisions.  How is that possible? Do leaders have that kind of time to invest and determine information? Most often, the answer is no. So, what gets this information to the leaders that make them sound so knowledgeable and confident of their decision making?

In addition to their sheer knowledge and understanding of the market & the industry due to their presence, the most structured approach to providing such information is through market research. Its utility has increased significantly in recent times with increased competition, discerning customers, increased expectations from products and brands, easy accessibility to substitutes, stronger norms & policies, etc.

CIO- the decision maker

However, what is more important is the role market research can play in the life of a CIO. It is usually the CIO who takes some of the most important investment decisions for the organization. In a connected world, these investments usually decide the fate and the future of the organizations. In such cases, availability of information is of critical importance to the organization’s technology leader.

We compiled a set of questions that most CIOs are asked by the management when taking a large investment decision. These include the following:

- Will the investment make us better than competition?

- Will the investment make life simpler for our employees?

- How will the investment help us increase topline growth?

- What offering/ solution will give us the best Return on Investment?

-How do we ensure that the investments are sustainable for the business?

- Are we getting the best deal for the investment we are planning to make?

Many of these questions require a detailed understanding of the organization, its functioning, a view of the market and the manner in which it is expected to evolve. For e.g. if an organization made an investment in 2011 on a technology solution that is not optimized for mobile, the solution may not provide sustainable benefits to the organization today.

Therefore, the CIOs of today are expected to invest their time in not only understanding the technology and its strength but also in understanding the manner in which the technology is expected to evolve and the manner in which it will interact with the various stakeholder segments. Changing customer trends are usually very difficult for the CIOs to gather and understand and, thus, the CIOs base their plans on past trends while the technology is based on the adoption in future.

Elicit the unbiased information

Currently, a lot of this information is gathered by CIOs through discussion with peers and quick internet searches. These are both extremely relevant and impactful approach to determining information. However, the key limitation is that the approach may not be scientific enough. This is due to the following key reasons:

1. Diversity in the respondents: The peers that CIOs speak to may think very similarly or have similar experience or vertical exposure. That may limit the scope of generating diverse information.

2. Art of asking questions: All of us may not have the art of asking the right questions or asking the question correctly. This is an art that needs to be nurtured and developed. Market researchers build this over a period of time.

3. Eliciting responses: Many peers may not share complete information as they may perceive it to be competitive intelligence. However, in most such cases, market researchers are able to elicit the information.

4. Reading between the lines: in most cases, the information is easily obtained but the challenge is in analyzing the information and drawing the right insights that are relevant to the business.

Similarly, with the Internet search too, the challenge is to elicit information that are unbiased and specific and then analyzing the
data accordingly.

Thus, market research enables the CIOs to focus on their core competence of building technology roadmap for their organization while the research organization supports them with specific knowledge and information. At the end, Information is all around us, what is important is to be able to identify the relevant information and interpret it correctly for larger business gains.