Evolving Organizational Structures for Intelligence: Where Does Market Research Fit?

By: Bill MacElroy

As we begin to emerge from years of recession, the Market
Research industry
appears to be recovering some degree of growth in
revenue.  However, the growth in the
market for survey research remains very low relative to other business service
When we consider the causes of low growth, several scenarios
may be at play. First, the industry may have met a natural cap: we may have
reached a zero-sum level of production that meets all the needs for information
that client companies have.  If this is
the case, then the only way to grow is to take business from someone else;
leaving the total market size relatively unchanged.  In this scenario, competition is defined as
“direct competition;” we’re fighting against competitors who are
doing the exact same thing that we are and seek points of differentiation based
on doing what we’ve been doing, only better or cheaper.
A second possibility is that new, disruptive
or methods are becoming substitutes for traditional research
and that the demand for information in client companies is being met through
alternative channels.  This is
“indirect competition,” wherein we are fighting for budget against
substitutes that are producing similar benefits, but in very different ways.
Having seen the growth in Big Data operations and the
budgets allocated to that infrastructure, I’m of the opinion that the second
scenario may be becoming more relevant.
For a number of years, enterprise-level businesses have been
building new organizational units for the collection and processing of
transactional data and other forms of ‘big data.’  Market research is seen as an established
information gathering function, but the two methods operate very differently in
terms of speed, cost of infrastructure, complexity and perceived reliability.
Many firms have been considering how these parallel
analytical processes can be integrated into their overall ‘market sensing’
activities.  There is some evidence that
the big data group may be poised to swallow a great deal of budget that used to
be earmarked for market research.
In order to ascertain the degree to which big data is
becoming an indirect/financial competitor to established research budgets,
Socratic fielded a study including 200 enterprise-level strategic
decision-makers who employ information systems to support the corporation’s
choices.  We will be presenting the
findings of this study at IIR’s
. This presentation
will feature the results from this research-on-research study, which will
reveal how senior business decision-makers foresee their organizations’ future
structure and where Market Research fits into the overall scheme of business
Key Takeaways:
How does the emergence of business analytics and
big data fit into future intelligence plans?
How/Does market research integrate with these
What will the reporting structure look like for
research and data analytics?  Do they
both report to the same function?
What will the leadership hierarchy of
intelligence look like?  What functions
produce the most value?
What will be the budgeting mix between big data
and market research activities?
To what extent is senior management supportive
of each function?  Are there credibility
barriers that must be addressed?
What will determine ‘success’ for each of these
functions in the future?
About the Author: Bill brings more than 35 years of marketing
management and research experience to Socratic Technologies.  His career
has included both agency and client-side managerial positions with Corning
Glass Works, Memorex, Unisys Corp., Cheskin, MACRO, and Autodesk. Bill holds a
doctorate in Management & Technology from Golden Gate University, San
Francisco; an M.B.A. with a concentration in Marketing and a Master’s
Certificate in Applied Statistics from Pennsylvania State University; and a
B.A. in Economics from the State University of New York.  He also spent an
undergraduate term at the Universit??t W??rzburg in Germany.Dr. MacElroy has taught
New Product Development and Marketing Research for UC Berkeley Extension, San
Francisco.  He has been a guest lecturer at MIT, UC Berkeley, The
Pennsylvania State University, University of San Francisco and the Notre
Dame-AMA School of Marketing Research.