It’s not news that we live in a fast-changing world where consumer behaviors shift rapidly. But when 2020 rolled around, we all discovered just how quickly and unexpectedly the world can change. Keeping up with emerging consumer trends continues to present new challenges as well as new opportunities.
Many organizations already reap value from maintaining centralized repositories of information, essentially data warehouses. Curating information from disparate sources in one place, traditionally an intranet or corporate wiki, makes it easier for stakeholders to access and analyze it which has obvious benefits. Still, a warehouse is a static resource–an improvement over information silos but constrained by the need to constantly maintain and update it. And usage of the information can remain a siloed activity, as stakeholders access what they need individually and in isolation from other teams. Even worse, if the repository doesn’t offer the ability to search across all content, stakeholders may fail to find the information they need unless they know the exact title or tags of the report.
This static warehouse model can no longer keep up with the needs of businesses, especially as the volume of available data continues to grow and the need to understand changing consumer behavior increases. The shelf life of data and insights can be especially short when it comes to market research. And collaboration can be valuable yet difficult to cultivate once findings are delivered.
So, if a static research repository no longer makes sense, then what’s next?
The Rise of Knowledge Engagement
Knowledge engagement is a practice emerging from the world of knowledge management that allows businesses to proactively harness and build upon a core set of knowledge. It represents a paradigm shift for consuming information: while the term “knowledge management” implies that an individual or team will be solely responsible for overseeing and updating their company’s knowledge and research base as needed, “knowledge engagement” implies a community-level effort to contribute to, act on, and grow an organization’s collective intelligence. This effort often starts with adopting a knowledge engagement platform that centralizes information, makes everything searchable, and makes content easy to update.
In the market research context, a knowledge engagement platform offers both researchers and stakeholders the opportunity to proactively build and evolve knowledge rather than simply accumulate stacks of facts. It offers a central, searchable location that empowers teams to tap into–and contribute to–the organization’s collective intellect, continually expanding the value and utility of its collective intelligence. In place of the conventional model in which information is pushed out to stakeholders, communication is two-way and internally public, and collaboration flourishes.
Facilitating easy access to and use of the collective intellect has become even more important as decentralization and flexible workplace models have swept through the business world and organizations must find new ways to keep employees connected, to ensure productivity and support innovation.
A knowledge engagement platform is an especially powerful solution for helping businesses keep up with rapidly-changing consumer behaviors, ultimately allowing them to make informed, timely decisions that positively impact their customer experience.
Insights On Demand
Good market research generates a wealth of information and insights, but even the best is only worth the use that stakeholders make of it. These business decision-makers need insights when they need them, and they cannot always predict when that will be, nor can they always specify which knowledge will be relevant to a given query. Research findings often include insights about topics or initiatives beyond the primary objective. This expands the collective knowledge to the extent that it can be accessed.
A knowledge engagement platform offers stakeholders the ability to tap into that collective knowledge base, discovering patterns or connections that might otherwise remain unrecognized and compounding the value of the information and of the ongoing investigations. Questions and comment threads can offer further illumination and stimulate new insights. Being able to access what they need when they need it encourages them to use it more frequently and more confidently.
Additionally, on-demand access allows stakeholders to take what they need on any given day and return the next day or week as their work proceeds. They can take a second look at material that seemed tangential to start with but may have become more relevant. They can flag a specific finding that may interest another team. In short, a knowledge engagement platform gives stakeholders access to all available research and insights instead of just the parts they take in first or the parts they were expecting.
More Digestible Information
Stakeholders have characterized consuming research findings as drinking out of a firehose when they are thirsty. They know it is providing what they need but there can be so much, coming at them so fast, that it becomes difficult to take in and use. A knowledge engagement platform enables insights teams to present research in a more digestible, accessible way.
Breaking out key takeaways and recommended actions can help users consume the knowledge more easily and make better use of it. For example, one of our customers, Lubrizol, publishes research reports to their knowledge engagement platform and includes calls to action with different curated insights tailored to different stakeholders. This helps their stakeholders quickly understand and apply relevant insights to their decision-making process.
A Two-Way Street for Knowledge and Insights
A perennial challenge for market research teams is fostering collaboration with stakeholders. Even in organizations that fully and formally recognize the value research brings, stakeholders often stick to the old way of thinking about and using research: place an order and receive a deliverable.
There may be robust collaboration about research design and implementation, and yet stakeholders often take delivery of the results and carry on, returning only when they need to discuss their next research project. The research team can be proactive about pushing out additional tools and resources but with no guarantee stakeholders will find the time to use them day-to-day. The engagement gap persists and opportunities to maximize the value of the knowledge fall by the wayside.
A knowledge engagement platform shifts the model by creating a two-way street for communication about research findings, implications, and recommendations. Stakeholders can ask questions and offer comments in the platform, to which the research team and other stakeholders can respond. Parties engage with each other around shared knowledge. Collaboration becomes more frequent and more productive.
Keeping pace with consumer behavior requires leveraging everything the organization knows and understands about its markets, and the most powerful way of achieving that is with a knowledge engagement platform.