Advice for researchers on building tech-based partnerships (Hint: It's more than just vendor shopping)

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Posted Sep 14, 2022
Kandice Coltrain

Today’s market is moving faster than ever before. Maintaining the status quo is no longer a tenable strategy.  With the demand for more and more data about brands’ target markets, many researchers are left overwhelmed. How can we possibly keep up? The answer is simple: Technology. Unless we take advantage of every opportunity that tech can bring us, we will try to work with one hand tied behind our backs. Partnering with the right kind of vendor is one of the fastest ways to start exploiting the benefits that technology can bring. That’s easy to say, but how do you know which vendor is the right one? Furthermore, how do you build a solid partnership on trust and can weather the storms of a complicated and ever-changing industry? Today, we’ll answer these questions and more.

What is a technology-based partnership?

There are many times in the life of every business when the team members realize that they’re going to need help if they’re going to continue meeting their objectives. This help could come from without or within. Hiring a team of full-time market researchers can be cost-prohibitive for many organizations. The hiring process itself can sometimes take weeks or even months.  This means massive delays, which can seriously cost your company. That’s why many businesses turn to external vendors who can rapidly deliver the features and functionality they need to scale. 

However, finding a vendor to support your organization’s market research takes time and effort. You want to find a tech-based team that cares about you and your business's success. They should also have a software solution that’s easy to use and effective for a broad range of uses in the market research space, built with research best-practices in mind. Ideally, they will also have a broad range of service and support offerings to support your team through every step of the research journey. A true tech-based partnership goes beyond the simple client-vendor relationship and should be viewed as more of an extension of your team. 

Four criteria to keep in mind

When evaluating vendors for a potential partnership, there are four primary criteria to remember:

  1. Capabilities
  2. Timing
  3. Cost
  4. Customer Support

The first criterion is vital. You need to understand exactly what the vendor is offering and whether or not it meets your needs. Not all technology solutions are created equal. You’ll want to look for market research software that possesses both an intuitive interface and covers all types of research—from simple to complex.

The second is timing. Traditionally, market research agencies deliver reports based on a 4–6 week timescale. This is unacceptable in the current environment due to ever-changing shifts in consumer behavior and preference. The tech-based solution you choose needs to provide high-quality results in a short amount of time. 

Thirdly we have cost. These days, budgets are tighter than ever, and you need a platform that’s going to allow you to do more with less. This kind of technology is what empowers you get the insights you need to stay competitive while also staying within budget. 

The fourth criterion is customer support. You want to find a parner who understands your needs and objectives—one who can lend support when projects take on more complexity, or when your bandwidth doesn’t allow you to fly solo.

Consistency across these main variables is essential. 

What a stellar partnership looks like

There are a few things that seem to be present in any successful tech-based partnership. One of them is flexibility. This means that the technology solution and support that the vendor provides should be adaptable to your organization’s changing needs. Nothing about a partnership is set and forget. In market research, different teams will need different levels of service and support. That’s why the ideal tech-based partner offers a flexible service model so that you can only utilize the services you need. Furthermore, this model should effectively combine expert human support with a robust technology platform. 

Another feature is trust. One of the values of a true partnership is when things go wrong. Everything may go swimmingly, given a few consistent factors. However, how a vendor reacts to a mistake or a crisis will highlight whether a true partnership exists. A true partner will jump in and help you fight through the trouble to success. On the other hand, a mere vendor will just wait until you’ve solved the problem. You need a partner who is invested in your success and who will support you throughout the entire research process. 

In market research, a great partnership should mean better data quality. If the vendor is relying on an effective software solution, they should be able to offer you far better data quality than you have had in the past. Automation changes the game regarding data quality by eliminating manual checks and uncovering issues that would be undetectable to the human eye. At the end of the day, a great partnership looks like one team working together towards a common goal – insights. 

How to find your next technology partner

Now that you know what a successful partnership looks like, how do you find one? There are a few key steps you can take to ensure that the vendor you choose will be a winner. The first step you need to take is to truly identify and understand the problem you are hoping to solve through this partnership. In the current speed-of-light market, most organizations don’t put a high value on thinking time. 

We need to take the time to accurately define the problem if we’re going to find a solution. That’s why you should focus your first conversations with a potential vendor on research and discovery. This is the stage where you find out if they can actually solve your problem and if they have a partner mindset instead of just a vendor mindset. Once both of you agree on the definition of the problem, you can move to the demo stage. 

However, it’s important that you run a demo that’s tied to the specific problem you’re trying to solve. Many tools can do fancy things in a demo but then fail to solve your issue in real life. This is why you should ask for a short demo that only focuses on your core problem. After all, you don’t have time to sit through a 3-hour presentation. 

Next, you’ll want to ensure that both you and the vendor agree on the success criteria. That way, you both have a common goal and can work together to reach it. Once that’s done, you’ll run a pilot of the new technology to ensure that both the software and teams work together in real-life situations. Finally, if everything has gone well throughout this process, you can collaborate to build an onboarding plan to bring the vendor’s technology to full adoption within your organization. 

Why you should partner with aytm

When people hear that aytm provides “agile insights,” they sometimes get the wrong impression. Doing it yourself doesn’t always mean you have to do it alone. At aytm, our goal is to build true partnerships, which is why we’ve built a team of people who can act as an extension of your research team. When you partner with aytm, you not only get access to a highly versatile and easy-to-use software tool, but you also get access to this team of experts who can support you to whatever extent you prefer. We offer a DIY model, an assisted DIY model, and a full-service model, to meet you at the moment of your research needs.