Are market reports really in decline? Well, we think that’s the wrong question.
An assertion that exists in the Market Intelligence sector states that in the digital age nobody has time to read lengthy research reports, people want usable data and they want it now.
Well, that’s not entirely true. In fact, it’s a partial, industry-centric view that doesn’t fully consider the needs of the customer. Let’s have a look why that might be…
The wrong question
Let’s kick-off by dealing with the ‘reports question’. Are reports really in decline? Well, we think that’s the wrong question.
Customers don’t really care about formats. They want Market Intelligence queries answered quickly and easily; they want robust, high-quality, trustworthy information; and they want to easily re-use those answers they find.
The problem with research reports is simply that they’re stuck in a format that’s become less user-friendly than it used to be.
What has changed?
Static research reports were originally the only way customers could get answers to their queries – but now reports are too time-consuming and difficult for customers to search; in addition, the information they contain is fixed – once it’s published it becomes out of date, and these are not documents from which it’s easy to extract information– nor do they make it easy to reuse this information.
These disadvantages, coupled with the relative improvements in data services, have made data preferable to old-fashioned long-form content. If the technology playing field was levelled, however, this preference wouldn’t exist.
Why is this? Well, data isn’t without its own limitations. It’s laborious to find true insights in data without context and analysis. The fact that users often express a preference for data doesn’t shows how wonderful data are but simply how frustrated users have become with PDFs.
What has stayed the same?
Customers still need answers but expectation is such now that a more efficient and intuitive way to gather and reuse information is needed. When people talk of the decline in the reports model, what they mean is just that nobody wants to read large PDFs to find the answers they’re looking for. The customer has evolved, research delivery has not. Searching on Google and using data is only preferable because it’s more convenient. It’s not a fundamental solution.
Let us explain why…
The reality of relying on Google and data
Let’s deal with search first… If the customer wants questions answered quickly – surely, they’ll just Google it? Well, not so… let’s look at the pros and cons:
As we can see, search might offer some benefits but the customer’s time is valuable and searching the internet isn’t able to consistently provide the customer with quick access to content that is of a reliable quality, from a trusted source, and that is easy to use and re-use.
“Reports in PDF format are a turn off for customers who have prioritised convenience. Searching Google or reviewing data in isolation aren’t that useful or convenient, they’re just better than sifting through PDFs; as a result, customers end up expressing a preference for either data or Google because of the technology involved.”
Managing Director, Content Catalyst
Now, let’s look at the limitation of just relying on data…
If the customer wants questions answered in context, how can the future be just data? Data alone has no story, no context, without analysis is not conclusive or even useful. Without analysis, context, or expertise to focus on the right data, erroneous conclusions can be drawn – isn’t this bad for business?
It takes a lot of work to find patterns in data and to cross-reference these with the industry events and trends that are vital to a proper understanding of the market dynamics. We think analysts should have a central role to identify what is happening and support this with exhibits that bring their stories to life.
And he’s the vital point:
These insights should be easy to find and use, and the exhibits should integrate with the underlying data – so that users can customise data exhibits to their own specific scenarios.
Now, doesn’t that sound a bit like a report to you?
In the end, it all boils down to usability…
Market Intelligence is made up of different complementary elements – insights, data, news, analyst access etc. None of these on their own can be a complete solution. Just as home entertainment is comprised of radio, TV, films, books, newspapers, etc – individuals may enjoy one format more than others, but most consume a mix of all formats.
Thinking similarly, the ideal Market Intelligence delivery platform combines different formats in a universal experience and leverage the full benefits of each format.
Reports in PDF format, as we have already suggested, are a turn off for customers who have prioritised convenience; searching Google or reviewing data in isolation aren’t that useful or convenient, they’re just better than sifting through PDFs; as a result, customers end up expressing a preference for either data or Google because of the technology involved.
That is not a solution. It’s a false choice shaped by a frustrated user who can’t get what they want from PDF reports. Reports aren’t the problem, it’s the format.
So, enhance the format…
- Delivering Data
- Digital Transformation
- End-user workflow