It’s one thing to use new technology solutions. It’s another to actually use technology to its fullest. In this article, we discuss how to make sure technology gets used to help research teams drive results.
“It really helps the adoption curve when companies don’t just bring it in, dump it on you and leave,” said Terrae Schroeder, an insights professional, on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show.” “To have somebody there ongoing, to answer your questions to get you up and running. But also give you more options when you are in a time crunch. Pulling that all together is helping teams embrace technology.”
Trends in technology adoption
Of course, technology evolves and has for a while. That’s not different in MR tech.
Terrae said newer technology she spotted in the MR tech space include:
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
Then there’s also:
“It’s kind of cool because advances can automate a lot of non-value added tasks,” she said.
Technology has to bring value
Meanwhile, what services are offered by companies is also evolving, Terrae reported. Before we had the Do-it-Yourself space and the full-custom space, she said. Now, people are finding that there’s a lot of demand for the middle of the spectrum.
“Companies want to have a platform – a platform to collect data, have access to panels and have integration with other services,” he said.
Whether it’s DIY, integrated or fully outsourced research, when the tech is useful and easy to use it’ll make the adoption so much easier.
Good technology also helps researchers do their jobs faster, which is certainly a pressure many of us feel. Rick Kelly, of Fuel Cycle, put it this way:
But the speed can’t cause the loss of value and quality, said Terrae. When they use the software platforms that offer speed and quality that can help companies adopt technology better and quicker. There’s payoff to get it implemented.
Biggest challenge to technology adoption in an organization
“It’s evolving so fast and furious, it’s almost like a firehose of new things coming at us,” Terrae said. “There are so many new things, so many new options, so many different ways to do things now. It’s hard to even have time in your day to understand what are all those options.”
Some teams have created a role that leads new technology – including technology adoption and evolution.
“The job is to find these tools out there, these next gen research applications,” Terrae said. “Assess them, vet them, make recommendations on where they should invest and bring them into the organization.”
Consider a technology investment strategy
Because research is so data and tech heavy, organizations should have an investment strategy for their MR tech stack.
“If you don’t have a dedicated team member to this, it can be a real struggle for individual team members to figure this out,” she said.
The strategy should look toward the future and align:
- Business goals
- Workflow barriers and efficiency issues
- Available technology
To get started, we need to realize that a MR tech stack investment strategy is needed. Think of how IT departments work. They consider many of the same things and have done so for years:
- What infrastructure is needed internally?
- Which pieces can be outsourced?
- When is Software as a Service the best option?
- How often does equipment need to be replaced?
- What are the best tools?
- The timeline
- And so on…
“Separate from research dollars we need to fund that ecosystem that supports our platforms,” she said. “Those are things that are almost capital spending. It’s about funding the systems that then fuel the research or sustain the research or make it accessible.”
Having a separate budget for this initiative also decreases the risk of it not getting done, added Jenn Vogel, vice president of marketing at Voxpopme and host of “Reel Talk.”
“If researchers are forced to use their research budget for those experiments then there’s so much risk,” she said.
And there can’t be a trade-off, added Terrae.
“We have to fund the structure to sustain the research that we get,” she said.
Triggers to increase software adoption in companies
At the core, it’s two-fold:
- Leadership support
- Buy-in and understanding from the people who use the tech day-to-day
I’ve actually worked on projects where an executive bought a piece of technology without the team understanding even why. Since the team would be using it day-to-day that caused issues from the start. That’s why many B2B companies involve multiple people in the decision-making process.
After all, what’s the point of adding new tech when it won’t get used? That’s why it’s so important to have champions and believers at different levels in an organization.
“Evaluation used to be very function based,” said Terrae. “What does it do? Functionality. A,B,C, D. And then you put out your RFP. But what I realized is that all the functionality doesn’t matter if it’s not easy to use.”
The user interface, the experience, must be good. To understand that, you’ll have to have pilots or have beta testers go in there. That also helps with getting champions and buy-in on several levels of the organization.
Prioritize what you are looking at and what matters: The piece of technology that a lot of people use a lot, needs to be in tip-top shape, for example, Terrae said.
“Those are the ones that provide the highest value to the organization,” she said. “You’ll get a lot of use out of it. Positive stakeholder feedback because of the value it’s creating for them so you’ll have less learning curve friction and pain points because there’ll be in the software so frequently.”
What skillsets do researchers need to make technology work?
Things are changing so quickly, which also means that skills needed in research are evolving. For example, using technology correctly needs certain skills. Understanding how technology can help in our research is certainly another.
“If we are not thinking about that and are building it out, we will always have this uphill battle to bring in new things,” Terrae said.
It’s very true. I’ve worked on projects where certain team members were just unwilling – or perhaps unable – to learn new skills. That could really slow things to a halt. That doesn’t mean we don’t need those established skills of researchers. We do need them! In addition, we also need to understand as a team how to accelerate the use of our industry skills and results by using the right technology.
“When we move more work in-house, you need to understand those fundamentals,” Terrae said. “How to get that piece right in a way or with a granularity that you may not have been exposed to in the past.”
Who should own technology adoption in an organization?
Terrae said it does need to start with leadership and setting the strategy: What are we trying to do? Then how do we get there. When technology gets implemented in silos that can also hurt.
I’ve actually worked with teams before where everyone just kind of bought their own software. That led to some duplication of efforts, some software tools that were tried but then not used – just to name a couple of the issues.
“It does go hand in hand with leadership setting that vision for the future,” Terrae said. “And to get those resources scaled and to help your employees.”
Partially, a disconnected implementation like the above happens because different software platforms do different things. Some do the research, others pull the results and then it is stored somewhere else.
“There’s opportunity there to connect those systems better,” Terrae said.
At the end of the day, technology can help us do our jobs better, make things more efficient and help us bring the voice of the customer to the table. That’s why it’s so important to pick the right software and then use it to its fullest.
“Technology adoption doesn’t happen overnight,” Terrae said. “Even just brining in one new tool doesn’t happen overnight.”