8 MIN READ

Our Journey Towards Insights Empowerment

Emily James

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Emily James

FlexMR has a long heritage informing decisions with actionable insight. In fact, it has been a 20+ year journey. Our methods, the insight industry and the world have all changed a lot in that time. But from the very start, we have always believed in the power of insight, the role of innovation and the importance of forging strong relationships. History has taught us that research is vital to success but often still critically undervalued. So, it has been a source of great joy to witness clients and insight professionals alike grow into increasingly influential positions.

Change has a habit of bringing self-reflection with it. As we witnessed these evolutions unfold, we began to ask ourselves: what is the role of market research in the modern world? An age-old question for sure. But one that is still as important as it has ever been. The answer we found was simple. To empower better decisions. It’s not the purpose of research that has changed, but the sphere of influence it now inhabits and the challenges that presents.

We categorised the challenges of insights empowerment into three broad domains. These are:

  1. Efficiency – the speed of research and how waste is minimised.
  2. Reach – the volume of stakeholders, departments and decisions data can get to.
  3. Influence – the weight of insight in decision making compared to other factors.

Using these three challenges as a starting point, and guided by both years of experience and direct practitioner input, we completely reimagined what it means to be a supplier to insight teams. We threw out the ways of doing things that provide little value and focused on practical ways to address these challenges. DIY vs. full service? The world has moved on. The best methodology? The one(s) that meet the needs of a given project. Traditional or agile? The pace at which decisions happen.

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Change has a habit of bringing self-reflection with it. As we witness evolutions unfold in the insights industry we began to ask ourselves questions about the future of FlexMR.

The Insights Empowerment Framework

The outcome of this industry-wide soul search was our emergent Insights Empowerment Framework. Expressed simply by three pillars, the framework addresses the pressures placed on modern insight teams. Each pillar draws on our experience as both a technology vendor and research partner – here’s how it works:

Efficiency: Streamline

We install InsightHub, our premier research platform, at the heart of our clients’ operations. While the software drives efficiencies in data collection and analysis, our team aim to build strong working relationships, embed agile principles and maximise return on investment.

Reach: Scale

We work closely with our clients to expand the reach of insight across their organisation. A consultative approach helps to identify existing barriers, scale processes and win new audiences. As our clients grow, our team act as a flexible resource that grows alongside them.

Influence: Supercharge

We draw on decades of experience to amplify insight and deliver influential business impact. To achieve this, our team develop bespoke strategies that combine creative production with tactical implementation and human understanding. The result is a catalyst for change.

So, how exactly do we plan to deliver upon the promises of this framework? We do this through flexible relationships that incorporate both cutting edge market-research technology and a roster of support, consultation & insight delivery services.

Better Research Technology

Technology is one pivotal fuel that powers the insights industry. When FlexMR first started generating data and insights, online market research was a still a budding practice, with telephone interviews prevailing within the market. As the insights industry was treading firmly into the territory of online research experiences, FlexMR was the first insights agency to offer both qualitative and quantitative online experiences in one custom-branded insights platform – something we are still immensely proud of to this day.

As innovative as the InsightHub was, we have always striven to keep it and FlexMR at the forefront of innovation. As the InsightHub has been powering client decisions, we have made sure to take advantage of opportunities, challenges, and trends to evolve our services and platform so that we can better cater to the needs of our stakeholders.

Ultimately, this means we have evolved the InsightHub into an end-to-end insights platform that can help brands centralise their research processes, and create one place where stakeholders can run multiple strands of their insights programme. We have injected innovation into long-standing tools to reinvigorate their relevance and research capabilities, as well iteratively evolve the InsightHub platform to embrace modern research methods, tools and techniques to enhance research experiences.

Alongside this practical technological innovation, we also developed consultative and hands-on services to better support stakeholders in their journey to insights empowerment.

All of these smaller iterative evolutions to FlexMR’s offering have served our us well in our quest to provide innovative research solutions, however we were more focussed on how the technology we create could better help stakeholders; during the past few years of industry innovation, we reached an evolutionary epiphany: to better navigate the future of research, we must shift our focus from being technology-led to insight-led.

Transformative Insights

The pivotal wider context that drove the change in our mindset is the democratisation of data (and research) within organisations. The idea that anyone can do research is prevalent across departments whether insight professionals like it or not. This is a good thing. It is the essence of democratising data, and researchers must find ways to support and guide stakeholders in order to drive better decisions.

Stakeholders, once educated, can serve as a great extension to insight teams, both agency and in-house, by conducting surface-level quick insights by themselves while the insight teams covers the more in-depth data analysis and reporting.

As long as insight teams promote pureplay ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS), brands are stuck learning about the value of insights the hard way, which perpetuates a perception gap between stakeholders and insight teams on the process and impact of the research experience, as well as leading to an enhanced gulf in the relationship between stakeholders and insight teams.

Additionally, many clients are currently expressing a desire to work with strong partners and so insight teams have an obligation to create a holistic relationship that provides enjoyment and support throughout the research experience, not just one that focusses solely on tech or solely on fully-served projects.

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Our role at FlexMR is to empower better decisions with insight, and with this goal we have completely reimagined what it means to be a supplier to insight teams.

The Insights Empowerment Company

A modern insight partnership, as desired by clients, needs to embrace all aspects of stakeholder challenges – this means sometimes we provide the technology for stakeholders to conduct research on themselves; or sometimes we are in a better position to help them achieve their research and business goals in a more hands-on approach; or sometimes we can act as a consulting expert they can always come to for advice. That flexibility has always been at the heart of the FlexMR, but we can embrace it better by focussing on empowering stakeholders with insight.

With this new focus we have a chance to invigorate external interest in the insights industry, forming strong bonds with stakeholders and creating more accurate, relevant, and directly actionable insights than ever before.

Stakeholders and insight professionals are able to rise against challenges and take advantage of opportunities when they appear, moving as a team to make informed decisions within their businesses. Whatever challenges both insight teams and stakeholders encounter in the future, this new state of insights empowerment facilitated by stronger relationships allows for an agile, streamlined reaction to mitigate any consequences or obstacles.

There are many opportunities that arise from forming closer partnerships with clients where insight professionals can truly make a difference by creating empowered insight-led cultures, decisions and relationships.

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