Just the other day, we sat down with a client to map out the current process their team goes through to find a data point from an existing research study of theirs. Not to our surprise, the process turned out to look like one giant game of telephone. See below for a visual we drafted up to capture it:
Look familiar? Let’s face it, we all play this game within our own organizations. And when this option doesn’t work, we pretty much give up all hope of ever finding the information we need. Which raises the question, why is it so hard to find past research within our organizations? Why haven’t any of the solutions or shared drives you’ve put into place worked? Since starting KnowledgeHound we’ve had the opportunity to meet with some of the world’s largest corporate organizations to identify what’s driving this issue. Here are the five major reasons we uncovered and what you can do to course correct:
When you don’t proactively manage how your research suppliers format, organize, and label the data they deliver you it becomes impossible to develop one solution that can work with all your research. Want one quick suggestion for a guideline to put in place?Demand that your final survey files are always returned without any acronyms/shorthand. These sorts of abbreviations make it impossible for anyone, other than yourself, to understand what questions were included in the survey.
When your looking to quickly answer a business question it’s not helpful to get handed a giant study that is 300 rows long in excel. You don’t want the whole study. You want the relevant data point within that study. Avoid implementing a solution that is only going to return relevant documents. Instead, focus on solutions that can deliver up individual data points.
When you develop a marketing campaign you collect data, track your performance, and regularly course correct based off those learnings. I wager you do none of these things when it comes to the knowledge management solution you’ve put in place at your organization (if you even have one). Don’t think you have enough time to do this? Then partner with a technology provider who can take up this responsibility for you. At a bare minimum you should track how it’s working, conduct short interviews with employees to gather insights, and watch people use it to get feedback on UI/UX.
How important is good design? In a recent study released by The Design Management Institute they found that, over the past ten years, design-driven companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 228%. In todays world, it’s not enough to just put all your past research onto a shared drive. You need to fundamentally understand how people want to use past research and design for it. You need to think about how you can use old data to tell new stories. If you focus on good design people will WANT to use your past research.
Implementing a great solution means nothing if there isn’t a good process in place to ensure all studies moving forward get added to it. Any process that relies on your own team members to upload new studies is NOT a good process. Make sure you have a technology partner who can manage this for you or place the responsibility on your research suppliers. Whatever you do, don’t put the owness on your employees. That’s a recipe for disaster.
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