Tips & Tricks

8 Essential Traits of a Data Discovery Platform

March 11, 2020

8 Essential Traits of a Data Discovery Platform

If you’re in the market for a data discovery platform, it might be hard to decide which products and features are necessary (and which you can live without).


Fortunately, our team already went through this process when we were building our data discovery tool. It’s a question our team often asks as we debate how to evolve our product to best serve modern market researchers who are looking for a better way to use the foundational research they have on hand.


To build the right product, we asked ourselves what our clients needed most and we set about making a list of the essential traits that we wanted to model. Here’s what we believe a strong data discovery platform must be able to do and why your company needs these capabilities.

1: Unifying and Integrating with Existing Data Providers

You have a variety of research providers and you’re likely also paying third-party platforms to run surveys and conduct market research on your behalf. The right data discovery platform will be data-agnostic. Integrating all of your data through vendor partnerships and APIs that pull your survey results into your portal directly, funneling all inbound foundational research to the same, unified place.

2: Accessible Across Teams

Market researchers have seen dramatic shifts in what skills they need to pull data and present insights to the rest of their company. But this doesn’t mean that your data discovery platform should only work for them.


If the point of data discovery is to help democratize data within your company, your portal should also make foundational research accessible to folks working hard in other departments whose work could also benefit from data-driven insights. These folks need to be self-serving with the data but we all know that data in the hands of a data-novice can be a scary thought. So, in addition to accessibility, this data needs to be formatted in a way that notifies your stakeholders when it is misleading or contains a low base-size.

3: Intuitive and Easy to Use Thanks to Semantic Search

Pulling data is a pain, and traditional business intelligence software doesn’t make it easy for people to get the answers they need on their own. While dashboards can be useful tools to share, semantic search is the best way to democratize data within any organization.

With semantic search, no one has to worry about whether they know how to use the platform’s controls to select the right data sources. By enabling users to search for answers using natural language queries, it’s easy for anyone to discover new insights, whatever team they work on.

4: Does Not Require Coding Skills

You don’t have to know how to code to uncover insights from the data your market research team collects. Beyond semantic search for end-users, an accessible data discovery platform will make it easy for everyone on your team to input data sources, tag data, and get the answers they need.

Because KnowledgeHound supports inputting new data sources and helps coordinate API integrations, your market research team doesn’t need to have any of the technical knowledge usually required to look for data within a marketing software platform.

5: Minimal Setup with Facilitated Onboarding

We believe that if you’re paying for a data discovery platform, you should have access to it from the get-go. For most of our clients, our onboarding process takes 30 days.

At the end of this period, your team will have access to at least three sets of survey results that will help you meet current business objectives. From there, you’ll have a dedicated team to guide you through exploration, implementation, and adding new survey results to your portal.

This high-touch customer support continues beyond the first third days and includes future trainings to help bring additional teams onboard as you grow your portal to include new users within your organization.

6: Cloud-Based to Help You Scale Up

Today, cloud-based platforms or cloud-hybrids are the norm, and this should be the case for your data discovery platform as well. Your data discovery platform should allow you to easily combine different data points, even if they’re coming from different sources of data or disparate research projects. The simplest way to move out of silos and into a flexible, highly searchable environment is to work in the cloud. 

7: Annotatable and Flexible

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know, and market research teams may not want to share all of their institutional knowledge with their organization at large. Having access to too much information or irrelevant research may gum up users’ abilities to find the answers they’re looking for.

To facilitate better data literacy at your organization, within each KnowledgeHound portal, account administrators have the ability to publish specific studies for specific audiences, add in notes, and include introductions to a set of survey results that highlight key takeaways. 

8: Provides Admins with Access Controls

We believe that market researchers must have the ability to control what information gets shared and how it gets communicated in a safe and digestible manner. Democratizing data within your organization – sharing it more widely – makes sense as long as everyone is using it in an appropriate manner.

With access controls, administrators can control who can see a summary page or a whole data set. Access controls also allow admins to configure study access controls by group and to see who has access to which project. These features allow teams to filter which data sources different parties can access, which may be necessary if the results of a study include proprietary or confidential information.

Overwhelmed by This List? Narrow Your List of Essentials

If you don’t know quite what you’re looking for and there are items on this list that just don’t resonate with you, we can boil down this list to two things that any good data discovery platform worth its salt must do:

  1. Empower anyone at your organization to access data and pull insights like a professional researcher.
  2. Enable your market insights team to securely manage who has access to your organization’s foundational data on an ongoing basis.

The right data discovery tool will put the keys in the hands of your market research team and enable them to better control the floodgates—quickly answering questions and connecting colleagues with the answers they need.

While good governance can go a long way in managing the data and insights your teams have access to, a data discovery tool must have an intuitive UX and design that makes it a natural resource to the folks who need it most. At its core, that’s what data democratization is all about.

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