PowerPoint Is Going Nowhere

Online Dashboards PowerPoint Charting Data Visualization Consulting

I was recently pointed to last year’s Annual Market Research Technology Survey report – it was a really good read, giving lots of insight into the technologies used by the industry. Of course, for me, it was the reporting section which I read with the keenest interest. Here are my key takeaways from the report

1. PowerPoint remains the number one distribution tool

PowerPoint is the market research industry’s favourite results delivery tool, with almost two-thirds of all projects estimated to be delivered by PowerPoint. Interestingly, its popularity has soared over the previous two years despite predictions that its use would start to decline in favour of more advanced solutions. However, despite this widespread usage of PowerPoint, one key contradiction was that almost 80% of respondents were considering changing their report publishing and delivery software.

E-Tabs’ report automationad hoc charting software or PowerPoint visualization solutions are ideal for those who find it hard to let go of the comfort of PowerPoint but are frustrated with the solution’s capabilities, and can hugely improve the speed and accuracy of these reports being produced.

2. More clients are demanding dashboards, but the MR industry is hesitant

The report also highlighted that the demand for digital dashboards is growing – albeit slowly – with the industry not seemingly ‘ready’ to fully embrace the technology. There’s a desire to look around for report delivery software improvements and a growing acceptance for online dashboards, so the question should be posed – is it the industry that’s not ready for digital dashboards or is it the current batch of dashboard solutions which isn’t ready for the industry?

With a decade of experience of building market research online dashboards, I would hypothesise that it’s the latter. Current business intelligence solutions available in the marketplace simply are not ‘fit’ for the market research industry. They often take too long to learn and develop dashboards, too many workarounds and processes needed to shoe-horn research data into a business intelligence environment. This was evident in the previous report, where 31% of respondents listed the unsuitability of standard dashboards for MR data as being one of their top concerns when implementing dashboards. The current solutions simply aren’t built for the industry in mind, so it is not surprising that uptake within the industry is relatively slow.

But the demand is there within the industry… which is why we partnered with Askia to produce an online dashboard software called Iris, which was built with the market research industry as its primary users. With both companies being well established in the industry, we are perfectly positioned to know exactly the types of data that researchers work with, how they want to visualize it and indicate industry-specific points of interest such as low bases and significance.

3. Digital dashboards are used twice as often by larger market research companies

The findings of the report show that larger companies produce double the percentage of projects that involve dashboards in comparison to smaller companies. This one shouldn’t really come as a surprise – the larger firms will have larger budgets and resources to allocate to developing dashboards in-house. But what about those companies who don’t have as much leeway in terms of their budget, or don’t have the same internal capabilities? The general perception towards producing dashboards seems to be that a) it’s a pricey and b) it’s a complicated task that requires specialised knowledge and/or software.

Let’s talk pricing first. In the previous report, 24% of respondents stated their budget restrictions were the biggest challenge when implementing dashboards, with 45% placing it in their top three concerns. We can see why – the price of current BI tools can be quite astronomical to be brutally honest, with lots of different licenses needed and large upfront costs. Many research agencies simply don’t have that level of capital to invest at the beginning of the year. Iris is priced on a per project basis which allows the cost to be offset within a project’s budget.So rather than having to go through the rigmarole of spending the IT department’s budget, the cost can come out of the project budget.

When it comes to the issue of complexity, it seems to be a common problem – in the previous report, dashboards had the lowest mean score in terms of ease of use amongst the different visual presentation formats. This also comes as no surprise as current dashboard tools can have a steep learning curve making them difficult to use – this is why we’ve focused on the simplicity and ease of use when developing Iris. With the upcoming release of Iris, we are offering the industry something truly unique in this reporting area – an online, interactive dashboard creation tool built for purpose for market researchers. Without the need for coding or programming wizardry, which won’t bankrupt the company to buy into!

I’d be happy to give you a sneak peek of Iris – just drop me a line.

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