To succeed and grow in the emerging tech-centric research industry, agencies need to harness software and automation.
However, the inverse is also true: technology companies need expert services to be successful. Even an archetypal software firm like Salesforce, for example, spends 25% of its revenue on professional services and support .
Similarly, in the research industry, it is a myth that do-it-yourself (DIY) software tools remove the need for researchers. In fact, DIY tools can provide misleading results in the wrong hands: sufficient research expertise will always be required to craft appropriate inputs, interpret data and contextualize results.
What today’s clients really want is hybrid research partners who have both expert teams and technology. They also want the flexibility to switch between models depending on their needs: from fully self-service to fully supported and all points in between.
In the past, only the largest agencies could afford to develop technology solutions for clients: ‘build or buy’ were both expensive options and required deep software expertise.
But things have changed dramatically in recent years. It is now much easier for agencies to create their own white-labelled ‘products’ that blend software services by using cloud hosting, open integrations and ‘no code’ development tools.
Of course, agencies have always relied on technology in some form to deliver their services; but the new hybrid world is markedly different. It’s about providing technology to clients – as well as using it in the back office. It implies:
- Creating technology products with their own revenue streams
- Enabling clients to self-serve if they want to
- Providing a wider range of flexible service models: technical support and training for ‘DIY’ users; hand-holding or light-touch project management for ‘partial DIY’ users; through to full-service research and consultancy.
This is a significant shift for many agencies, but it opens-up many new commercial opportunities:
- A broader range of revenue streams
- New pricing models for annual technology licenses or retained services
- Higher long term profit potential from software or intellectual property assets
- Faster delivery to clients who can self-serve when they need to
- Improved client retention with longer term agreements rather than project-based contracting.
Examples of ‘hybrid’ software and service models for research agencies might include:
- Client portals and dashboards for reporting, data visualization and collaboration
- Packaged survey and reporting tools for proprietary methodologies
- Customer communities or panels
- Integrated solutions that combine data from research, social, eCommerce or other sources
- Video libraries and analysis tools for qualitative research outputs.
Agencies who successfully blend software and services like this will not only meet the evolving needs of their clients better – they will drive top and bottom-line growth for their own businesses.
More winning strategies for Market Research Agencies
Read more about Forsta’s take on the coming golden age for research agencies, and the key strategies being implemented in our full white paper.
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