Information used for market analysis and planning has changed a lot in recent years. In technology and telecom markets, it’s increasingly common to analyze CRM data, web traffic data, and point of sales data for predictive trends. Past performance and current performance both help predict how sales and markets will perform in future months.
With significantly new products—the rule of our industry – we have no choice but to rely on primary research to for market development. However, primary research for new products can fall short for several key reasons:
- Not a good sample set. Instead, of being representative of prospects for the new technology, such as enterprises with greater than $10 million in revenues, they are usually representative of a company’s existing customer base – people who are already familiar with the company, their products and their technology and are predisposed to buy from them. Alternatively, they are often representative of traditional industry analyst report subscribers and not necessarily a defined market that exists in the general economy.
- Emerging technology is beyond what most people can comprehend in an unaided survey. Surveys ask questions about technologies that are still “too visionary” to get trustworthy answers that can pass the “so what?” test. People might not understand the technology the same way you do. When trying to survey on visionary technology topics, focus on identifying the steps toward that vision and ask survey respondents about those items. For example, instead of asking about cloud computing, ask about virtualization, managed services, infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and software as a service. These are things that enterprises of various levels of sophistication can easily answer.
- Gathers information just to know the answer to the question. Ask youself, what are you going to do with the information once you know the answer? If you can’t answer this question, you don’t need to collect the information. Rather, it’s usually focused on verifying and validating what we already know (Marketing can be the culprit). Research that neither seeks to break new ground nor enlighten marketing departments for better decisions is worthless. Instead, it’s a better idea to create a series of hypotheses that research can prove or disprove and to have a clear idea of how results will be used, e.g., tie to demand generation, inform channel partners to changing buying habits, or improve products or solutions. Here, research professionals can demonstrate their value to their marketing counterparts by showing how research can be used for more than the traditional verify and validate scenarios.
- Surveys done in Techno-speak (or Techno-babble as it’s sometimes known). Finally, terminology often lacks a common understanding. For example, cloud computing might mean something different to each respondent. This is especially true when dealing with visionary technology where definitions are emerge and evolve as people are exposed to the technology.
Sometimes, primary research is the only option to understand those next market moves. To summarize, truly focus on practical understanding by using:
1. Tightly Defined Target: A defined research target that represents a defined market or universe that can be measured helps make small sample sizes meaningful
2. Clearly Identified Next Moves: Those near-term “next market moves,” so it’s in context of today, as well as that long-term vision
3. Actionable Objectives: Research objectives that are tightly coupled with go-to-market or product development goals.
4. Tests Before You Launch: Thorough testing of your survey instrument, to include checking frequency distributions, to make sure you are communicating to your technical audiences in a way that makes sense to them.
Follow these tips to make your primary research investment bear fruitful, business planning information.