Ad-hoc Research Slows Product Development

Turtle on Meadow

Ad-hoc research is often the most used method by which we understand our markets and new innovations. Most of us work on evolving markets that often have very specific questions which we feel we need to address and ask of consumers. For most of us these questions change nearly every time we look at a new innovation. Even in the case of incremental adjustments we often come up with new aspects we hadn’t thought of before. This leads to questions that we just have to ask this time even though we have nothing to compare the answers to, and which we may not ask next time. We fear leaving a single stone unturned, and this fear slows us down. We need to focus on getting the big stones up the hill and not mind the small ones that make our task seem overwhelming.

Our big goal is to achieve actionable insights, as fast as we can, and hopefully build up knowledge about our markets as we go along our merry way in getting products in market. However the more custom we make our research, the more we lose sight of the core of our business, and the more time we spend focusing on a specific stone, the more time we spend not looking at the path ahead.

The human aspect of the market research equation is ultimately our own limiting factor; the human aspect makes us concerned that we may miss something big that will be the downfall of our product (but we won’t because big stones are easy to see). This human aspect slows down our route to actionable insights at the top of the hill, which we end up mistaking for a mountain. However, if we only concern ourselves with the big stones, the ones we need to move to the top, we can carve trails that take us exactly where we need to go.

So how do we smooth our path to the top? Through simplification and automation.

We need to simplify. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times we’ve had a small last minute change to a research project, a change that absolutely had to be made. I can, however, tell you the number of times I remember a small change making a meaningful difference in our resulting analysis: never. Unless you count the impact that change (and many like it) had on slowing down the entire process.

We need to automate. Automation is a process by which numerous industries have foregone a small amount of flexibility for fast turnaround, reduced costs, and large scale production by reducing the amount of manual intervention needed. Market research is an industry with an excellent understanding of how to turn numbers into actions, and the technology to do it quickly. We’re simply missing the volition.

But enough with the flowery language, you want results, so if you take away nothing else from this article remember that research can be automated provided that you give up a very small amount of ad-hoc flexibility and in exchange you will experience some excellent benefits:

  • A focus on the goals and details that truly matter in your market
  • The ability to truly collect knowledge over time and gain a better understanding of your market through consistent consumer evaluation
  • Speed, much faster movement from the start of a study to actionable insights

Better pricing, reducing the amount of custom work means less time spent settling on designs, less time discussing the execution of a study, and more time to focus on the big picture.