DIY: From Black Box to Open Book

DIY from black box to open book - Insight Platforms

Time and technology help open the black box

Twenty years ago, when folks talked about DIY research, what came to mind was Survey Monkey – which was pretty much a joke at that point.

Nonetheless, both client and supply side researchers were threatened, especially on the supply side.

Client researchers felt that their internal clients would soon be fielding their own, very bad studies. Likewise, suppliers feared that clients would use the tools to do all of their own market research.

Clients thought this would lead to misguided business plans and suppliers saw it as a threat to their livelihood and business.

All of these were valid concerns and the fears were realized to some extent. But, for the most part, client departments remained intact and market research suppliers were not put out of business.

Nonetheless, the market research ecosystem was much more insular than it is today. Research suppliers were:

  • Less likely to collaborate with clients (“working for” and not “with” them)
  • More likely to position tools and methods as “proprietary”
  • Not using DIY as it is today (was still mostly a “Joke”)

Despite all of this, the market for DIY tools did grow and both client and supply side researchers found value in leveraging them.

With the opening of the box came true research partnerships

As DIY research tools expanded and new players (from outside market research) entered the marketplace, innovation and the quality of the offerings were enhanced. As often happens with open markets and disruption, DIY research became a thriving option for both client and supply side researchers.

The combination of new software, technology, and now artificial intelligence solutions has created a different world for market researchers.

The black box has opened and the relationship can now be described as more of an “open book.”  Now the relationship between client and supplier can be described as a partnership in most cases. This is not all due to DIY, but all factors feed into the need and acceptance of DIY. For example:

  • Now many DIY tools cover text analytics to advanced survey fielding and analysis
  • Client Budgets have remained restricted necessitating creative approaches
  • Client Researchers have up’ed their game and advanced their market research education
  • Tools are much better now
  • Software as a service (SaaS) has made DIY much easier
  • The new players (programmers, engineers, etc.) bring new perspectives.
Survey ToolsReal Time AI (quant or qual)SampleAnalyticsMulti Service
QualtricsRemeshCintQ Research SoftwareQualtrics
MedalliaQual/Quant SignalsTolunaSprinklrToluna
 Quantilope Quantilope 

DIY – A mature option that is more than software

At this point, DIY is so much more than using software or even a SaaS tool to field surveys. DIY can be anything from that, to sample access, analytics, text analysis or even real time AI tools.

Part of the “open book” DIY world or “Do it Together” (DIT) world (recently coined during a DIY Research Conference in New York, NY, USA) is that research providers are now partners helping clients at various points during projects.

Clients count on them to help where needed and it is DIY that helps all parties. All researchers are now using DIY tools to some extent. When it comes to DIY, it is more than software, it is getting the work done faster and covering for lack of bandwidth.

Some of what now defines DIY includes:

  • The client using sample recruitment but facilitating their own qualitative research
  • The client using sample providers, but fielding their own surveys
  • The client paying to fully field the survey but handling analysis on their own
  • The client using a SaaS tool to field qual or quant, but getting help to leverage results for strategic marketing recommendations
  • The client leveraging their open-ended survey results and/or other unstructured data for text analytic work carried out by a research partner
  • The client leveraging a text analytic SaaS solution to analyze their own unstructured data
  • Within any of the above scenarios, the research partner is likely to be using one or more other partners and/or SaaS tools to help them to efficiently do help their clients.

Those are just a few of the possibilities.The options are limited only to the tools available and the creativity of the researchers.

Needless to say, this new world of DIT is bringing clients and supply side researchers closer together. We are becoming stronger partners because of DIY research. This renewed partnership is helping client-side researchers become “Trusted Advisors” within their organizations and helping supplier’s business to thrive in the process.

What have we learned?

DIY was never the enemy and it certainly is not now.

DIY research at its most basic remains a way for researchers to save time and sometimes money. But, more importantly, with the “Black Box” open we have new flexibility among client researchers for how they work with their research partners.

This “Open Book” relationship is helped by software, SaaS, or AI, but not completely defined by it. While DIY research methods and tools are used by both client and supply side researchers to reduce costs, create efficiencies, and do things differently and faster, DIY is now about how we all work together.

It is an interesting time to do research. DIY tools and approaches truly allow client-side and supply-side researchers to work together more closely as partners. These partnerships have transformed the supplier / client relationship from suppliers completing projects “for” clients to supporting the business together “with” them using various research efforts.

The “Black Box” has officially transformed to an “Open Book”.

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