Facilitating Growth: How Oxford Economics leverage Publish Interactive to scale content production and expand its global reach


Leading economic research firm Oxford Economics chose to partner with Content Catalyst and adopt Publish Interactive – its leading content delivery and subscriber management platform – to power the My Oxford portal. A global client base of cross-industry corporate entities now use the Publish Interactive-powered My Oxford portal to access subscription content and consulting deliverables.

Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics is the world’s foremost independent economic advisory firm. Starting as a commercial venture with Oxford University’s business college back in 1981, the firm soon spread to the four corners of the globe. Now covering over 200 countries, over 100 industrial sectors and 8,000 cities and regions, their international team of analysts deliver insights that enable businesses to make intelligent and responsible decisions faster.

Realigning organisational focus

To facilitate its wide-ranging coverage of international economic markets and ambitious growth targets, Oxford Economics needed a dependable, scalable content delivery solution to power the My Oxford insights portal.

Since the launch of the updated My Oxford portal, which, Ben Nicaudie, Chief Information Officer at Oxford Economics, described as the “smoothest deployment at this scale they [Oxford Economics] had seen”, the organisation has realigned focus back to its core principles: delivering exceptional economic insights and an innovative user experience for their over 2,500-strong worldwide client base, which includes household names like IBM, Visa, and Airbnb.

The solid foundation provided by the Publish Interactive platform enables efficient publishing workflow processes and reduces the previously heavy burden of website maintenance and general IT support on Oxford Economics’ development team. The firm now has a reliable, scalable technical infrastructure and more time to focus on innovative product development initiatives.

The My Oxford homepage – powered by Publish Interactive

“No longer focused on keeping the lights on”

Before adopting Publish Interactive, Oxford Economics had a high-maintenance content delivery system. Ben oversaw the launch of the new platform and explains how his team no longer require “dedicated support and admin staff to maintain the platform.” This new-found freedom from the shackles of repetitive maintenance work allowed his team to “spend a lot more time improving things as we’re not focused on keeping the lights on or other operational matters.”

For instance, updating content and their vast array of verticals was time-intensive. Oxford Economics provide analysis on a far more specified basis than their competitors and the new platform now helps them “achieve this coverage from a technical perspective.” Newly created verticals, including a ‘Global Climate Scenarios’ category, are configured quickly and easily, enabling Oxford Economics to scale its content offering.

In addition to the benefits of a more focused development team, Publish Interactive facilitates better connectivity across the business. With two key arms to their business: subscription content and consulting projects, the company previously experienced a degree of disconnect. “One of the success stories from the partnership has been our ability to integrate both sides of the business into one platform through the API connectivity,” says Ben.

A deep integration with Salesforce strengthened interconnectivity further. Linking the commercial operations of the organisation more closely with the research arm enabled all users, licenses, and purchases to be managed via the CRM.

Transformative HTML Content

Aside from improved organisational processes, “one of the biggest selling points was the ability to move to HTML”, asserts Ben. Oxford Economics’ emphasis on HTML content output hosted through Publish Interactive’s Interactive Docs feature, sets them apart from other market analysis firms publishing content in PowerPoint or static PDF format.

Leveraging an intelligent piece of custom development, Ben’s team developed a simpler process for authoring HTML documents and adding metadata direct from Word. This process has been well received by analysts and “switching to HTML has given a fresh, modernised look for all of our content – in fact, the ability to fully automate things like compendium reports has given us a new lease of life,” comments Ben.

This new lease of life benefits both analysts and Oxford Economics’ subscribers.

For analysts, automation has “saved a lot of time in the content production phase and allowed analyst teams to get more content out than before.” Ben has noticed the most significant benefits of automation with Oxford Economics’ data-driven ‘Cities’ content. The previous system converted analysts’ Excel worksheets into PDF format with no scope to deliver content as HTML or to include interactive data. Now, only one template is needed – leading to “virtually zero” tickets for IT support.

For subscribers, the HTML reading experience is far more engaging: “clients can now interact with the data and content to a much higher degree,” explains Ben. Given the complexity of Oxford Economics’ datasets and the prominence of data forecasts in their content, interactivity is a must. End-users can also compile pertinent sections of the content and export custom reports to the Microsoft Office suite.

“Switching to HTML has given a fresh, modernised look for all of our content – in fact, the ability to fully automate things like compendium reports has given us a new lease of life.”

Ben Nicaudie
Chief Information Officer
Oxford Economics

End-users are reaping the rewards

It’s not only increased interactivity that has improved the end-user reading experience, but also two key in-platform content engagement tools: search and translation.

Ben discusses a common headache for market analysis providers associated with building content delivery systems in-house: subscribers cannot always find the information they need in ways they expect. He admits that “it seems silly because we all just expect search to work but it is a very complex, technical area and getting it right is really difficult”. The firm previously worked with third-party organisations to hone and optimise their search system but to no avail; search returns were often “too smart” and came back with unintuitive results. Not the outcome an organisation with a content catalogue of over 50,000 technical, complex research products was hoping for.

“We used to get complaints from clients and from people internally that search was not functioning properly”, explains Ben, “but that’s completely gone away now.”

Given Oxford Economics’ global audience and workforce, in-platform translation tools have transformed engagement with content. “For the first time, clients can see a report in their chosen language – that was a big step forward,” comments Ben, who says further enhancements will follow, including the generation of email notifications in a client’s chosen language.

An innovation facilitator

Since the implementation of Publish Interactive, instead of dealing with support tickets, site maintenance issues, and complex publishing workflow processes the organisation is focused on what it does best: creating high-quality economic research and delivering a boundary-pushing reading experience for its international clientele.

Ben has ambitious plans for the My Oxford portal. Noticing the growing proliferation of AI-based technologies, he discusses his plans to train AI chatbots to improve accessibility of content using advanced natural language models. These intelligent bots will help answer client queries about content, further reducing the workload on account managers and analysts who no longer have to spend their time fielding simple subscriber questions. The shift from PDF to HTML-published content has facilitated this development. Content is now formulaically structured in the production phase, meaning AI can pinpoint recurring elements in each document and answer questions about specific sections of the document. This will “give us a huge advantage going forward”, explains Ben.

Leveraging the dependable infrastructure the Publish Interactive platform provides, Oxford Economics now has a strong environment in which to scale. No longer shackled by inefficient workflow processes, high-maintenance tech, and inflexible content formats, their international team of expert economists, developers, and commercial personnel can continue to forge the organisation’s innovative path.

“Having all the content in one place gives us the platform to make changes and we’ll be on that journey together with Content Catalyst as a managed service provider,” summarised Ben.


  • Analyst Workflow
  • Digital Transformation
  • End-user workflow

How analyst firms can use subscriber feedback and behavioural data to optimise information discovery journeys

Understanding how to include end-user feedback and behavioural data in the development of information discovery tools is vital for publishers looking to increase engagement and provide true value to subscribers.

Market analysis providers are waking up to the integral role customers play across content strategy and delivery formulation – particularly in relation to tools that aid efficient information discovery.

Discovery tools, such as taxonomy and category trees, workflow tools, and search, are designed to reduce time to discovery – a metric denoting the time it takes for readers to locate, gather, and re-use specific information.

So, where can market analysis providers find customer insight to improve these tools and reduce time to discovery?

  • The qualitative route: driven by Customer Success (CS) activity. CS teams should regularly check in with customers, inform them of new developments (and future releases planned on your product roadmap), and demo new developments to gauge feedback.
  • The quantitative route: data is gathered using analytics tools which track user behaviour. Taking the time to unpack and analyse data reveals true subscriber behaviour and uncovers areas of your information discovery system requiring improvement.

A blend of ‘human’ customer success-generated insights and data-driven analysis of subscriber behaviour provides a clear picture of the steps needed to create an efficient information discovery system within your content delivery platform.

Read on as we examine:

  • How to incorporate these two information sources into the development and configuration of your delivery system’s discovery tools
  • What metrics to keep an eye on to minimise time-to-discovery
  • The internal structures needed to ensure customer feedback plays a central role in discovery feature development.
Understanding subscriber usage is key to developing efficient information discovery tools


Your category tree is the backbone of your content portfolio. Without it, your library would be an unnavigable jumble of reports and datasets, leaving subscribers with little option but to manually scroll through content and hope they come across the right title.

Taxonomies bring structure to content and improve the end-user experience, so their formation requires a significant level of feedback.

Andrew Woods, our in-house content expert at Content Catalyst, suggests that subscribers need practical use of your taxonomy to gather feedback. When they’re using your site, you can see how they discover content and what’s hindering their information discovery journeys.

“If searches are culminating in subscribers not finding content that’s useful to them, this indicates that your category tree needs tweaking. You may also need to educate end-users to ensure they know how to navigate your category tree correctly”, said Andrew.

Andrew is the creator of the ‘5 steps to taxonomy mastery’ (see right-hand box) – a collaborative framework he recommends to all new customers of Publish Interactive when mapping out their category tree:

5 steps to taxonomy mastery:

  1. First draft: create a first draft based on what you know about your subscribers, their expectations of your organisation, and how they interact with your content.
  2. Sense check: share with stakeholders and invite some of your customers to review it.
  3. Gather feedback: revise your categories based on feedback from internal stakeholders, including analysts.
  4. Soft launch: put your category tree live for a test period to gather feedback. Following this, you should analyse data embedded in your content delivery platform and conduct user research.
  5. Launch: amend taxonomy and go live. Book a second review point between 6 and 12 months after launch.

Key user metrics & behaviour to monitor:

  • Number of enquiries sent to Customer Success (CS) team from lost/dissatisfied customers (Help Desk/customer service line)
  • The average time it takes a user to locate a report (Usage analytics)
  • Number of user sessions that ended with no report access (Usage analytics)


In contrast to the era of flat PDF delivery, market analysis providers can no longer serve up useful content and immediately produce satisfied subscribers. Content must also fit into a well-planned, thoroughly tested workflow process to provide true value.

When crafting a customer-centric workflow process, catch-up calls with your CS team are a crucial starting point. Use these calls to understand how subscribers access and repurpose content and where perceived inefficiencies lie.

If, for example, customers are struggling to create custom cuts of your reports to re-use in their PowerPoint presentations, this information should be fed back to your product development team, ready for implementation in later development cycles. If multiple accounts raise similar complaints, elevate the development’s urgency.

Careful analysis of usage data will also provide evidence of inefficiencies. Metrics like report reading time reveal whether your workflow tools allow readers to efficiently find information.

Your subscribers are busy, time-poor businesspeople. Internally, set a benchmark for the optimum time spent on a report. Then, with feedback from customers, identify the features causing delays and aim to fix these in later development cycles.

As an example of a fluid, end-user-oriented workflow process, the framework below shows how Publish Interactive users find and repurpose information.

Implement a fluid workflow model – underpinned by intuitive workflow and information discovery tools – and your subscribers will achieve their tasks in record time.

Key user metrics & behaviour to monitor:

  • Average time spent reading reports – adjust depending on report length. This could be as simple an equation as 5 minutes of reading time per 1000 words. (Usage analytics)
  • Average session length – once you implement the new workflow process, is there a marked reduction in time spent in-platform? (Usage analytics)
  • Customer satisfaction compared to the previous workflow system. (Customer survey / feedback in CS catch up calls)


Underpinning any successful workflow process is powerful search. Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have cancelled entire global subscriptions if employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need, meaning subscriber feedback on search quality and the structuring of returns is integral.

Search configuration and UX can lead you down a rabbit hole as the value of filters, weighting, and exact terms/phrases are highly subjective.

Before launching new search UX/functionality, task key subscriber accounts with sense checking the results a few example queries return. This could, for example, be the account’s most regular search. Identify the differences between the new returns and the old. Is the new structuring of returns more useful?

If your previous search functionality only searched by report title, rather than a granular sweeping of every word of your content portfolio, have confidence that the increased specificity will benefit your subscribers. If you’re fine-tuning or testing a new search configuration, be more cautious and receptive to feedback.

Once live, usage data is key for determining the effectiveness of your search functionality.

Key search metrics & behaviour to monitor:

  • Number of searches culminating in no result returns (Usage analytics)
  • Number of reports clicked through to upon running a search (Usage analytics)
  • Average user session length (Usage analytics)
  • Number of enquiries sent to the CS team from lost customers (Help Desk/customer service line)
  • Feedback from customer demos / example search tasks set to clients (CS team)

Analyse and Listen

Like in any healthy relationship, communication is key. Listen carefully to your customers’ opinions and feedback. Combine this with careful analysis of user behaviour and your information discovery tools will soon significantly reduce that all important metric: time to discovery.

Reduce time to discovery of business-critical information and you will soon see a return in improved engagement, renewals, and revenue.


  • Analytics
  • End-user workflow
  • User Journey

Related Content

How MarketResearch.com grew user numbers after implementing SSO for enterprise customers


MarketResearch.com (MRDC) activated Single Sign-on (SSO) for a corporate client, doubling the account’s active users, increasing the value of their service, and significantly boosting customer engagement.

MarketResearch.com (MRDC) is a distribution service for over 400 publishers and a publisher of market research insights. They leverage Publish Interactive technology in their publishing division to offer subscription access to their various brands, including Freedonia Group, Freedonia Focus Reports, Packaged Facts, and Simba Information. Their clients are corporate entities, generally with a broad interest in the overall collection from one of the brands.

Password prompts prevent easy access to content

Username and password prompts interrupt the user journey and present a potential barrier to accessing services. While modern browsers help the user by saving log-in credentials, passwords are inevitably forgotten or expire.

If subscribers successfully enter their password the first time, they will complete their task unimpeded. However, if they forget their password, it may take several attempts, and even a password reset to access an application.

“Any time there is a barrier to accessing something, it reduces the likelihood that we use it,” says Ned Zimmerman, Director, Technical Publishing Operations & Analytical Support at MRDC. “Most of our clients’ users are not in our platform on a daily basis, so remembering their username/password becomes more of an issue.”

SSO reduces the likelihood of a user forgetting their log-in credentials and abandoning their task. For publishers like MRDC, SSO diminishes the barriers users face when researching and collating information, resulting in their content becoming increasingly embedded in end-user workflows and integral to the completion of business-critical tasks.

How MRDC customers access content before and after SSO implementation

Simplified password management with SSO

With SSO enabled, employees of an organisation need just one username and password to access all applications for which they have permission.

For example, an employee who needs access to four applications during their working day must go through four separate log-in sequences. With SSO, they need just one set of log-in credentials to access all four services.

MRDC implemented SSO for a corporate client to simplify password administration and improve security while making it easier for subscribers to access research products. In the first months after activation, active user figures doubled. They also significantly boosted the client’s engagement with the platform and increased the value the client receives.

SSO Graph
Graph showing the number of users accessing MRDC's Knowledge Center before and after SSO implementation

“Not only did we make it easier for new users to gain access to the service, but we also made it easier for existing users to reach the content as well,” reveals Ned. “For us, we have an additional value proposition we can offer our clients when they consider our services, and we have more client engagement, which then smooths the renewal process.”

 “We now have an additional value proposition we can offer our clients when they consider our services, and we have more client engagement, which then smooths the renewal process.”


Ned Zimmerman
Director, Technical Publishing Operations & Analytical Support

SSO Integration

To integrate SSO with Publish Interactive technology, the client must already use this service within their organisation. We support OAuth SSO via Okta and Azure Active Directory. Ned concludes: “We have other services where we have also implemented SSO and working with the Publish Interactive team we were able to add this without too much difficulty.”

Some of the benefits of SSO for publishers of market analysis include:

  • Frictionless account access allows users to get more value from subscriptions by embedding content seamlessly into end-user workflows.
  • Provides a superior sign-in experience for subscribers by reducing or eliminating sign-in prompts.
  • Strengthens publishers’ value propositions, resulting in improved client engagement and renewal rates.
  • Limits the reuse of usernames and passwords across apps to reduce the risk of security breaches.


  • End-user workflow
  • Technology
  • User Journey

How publishers of market analysis are using technology to streamline subscriber workflows

For publishers of B2B market analysis, creating high-quality content is no longer enough – they must also save their subscribers that most valuable of assets – time.

Time is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity across the board, and the world of B2B publishing is no exception.

Consequently, immediate access to highly targeted, pertinent information and an intuitive, frictionless process to access and re-purpose this information are now key concerns for consumers of market analysis. Publishers can no longer expect to serve up useful content and immediately produce satisfied subscribers – their content must also fit into a well-planned, thoroughly-tested workflow process designed to streamline their subscribers’ time if it is to provide true value.

Here are just a few reasons why publishers should be considering the role their content plays in their subscribers’ day-to-day tasks and we provide an overview of the workflow tools required to streamline these end-user workflows.

Maximising content value in the subscription age

The rise of subscription packages has led to a reciprocal increase in the number of reports users have access to as content becomes more concise and tailored to individual user needs. This trend has meant that ad-hoc purchases of lengthy PDF-authored reports delivered over email and the limited functionality necessary with this delivery method no longer applies to the needs or buying habits of most end-users.

Edwin Bailey, Director of Marketing at Publish Interactive elaborates: “If a subscriber has access to more than one hundred PDF reports, they’re going to need an efficient means of extracting what they need and make all that content work in their favour in a consistent, quick and accurate manner, enabling them to maximise the value of their subscription”.

Large, increasingly diverse libraries of content have made efficient extraction of relevant information a must for publishers and poses a headache for those who have not picked up on this aspect of the end-user journey.

This poses the question: what workflow features can be incorporated into content delivery platforms to streamline the end-user experience?

Search is key

Central to the effectiveness of workflow tools is the quality of search, followed by the structuring of returns. Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions if they feel as though their employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need.

The content produced may be valuable, but if it can’t be located what purpose does it serve?

Allowing end-users to search for key terms across an entire library of content, displaying these terms within the context of the report it is found in, and having the ability to filter terms by content type transforms the search-based workflow experience and ensures end-users can quickly find the information they need.

“Search functionality is so highly valued that clients have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions if their employees cannot quickly and intuitively find the information they need.”

Collate and Export

The purpose of workflow tools is to accomplish complex processes with minimal user intervention in as short a time period as possible.

For instance, end-users do not want to compare data or analysis across multiple reports by manually opening and navigating between individual documents. Saving relevant sections, viewing relevant returns for all reports, or viewing corresponding sections side-by-side in report series creates a dynamic, intuitive reading experience free from laborious, manual navigation. Once relevant information is located, it should then be easily saveable to a custom content library for later use.

Allowing subscribers to collate pertinent information in-platform is useful, but publishers have often sought ways to fully immerse themselves into their end-user workflows. In-platform functionality allowing these multi-formatted content snippets to be exported and integrated into a single Office document is a powerful way of achieving this.

End-user workflow framework- png

Creating an intuitive, integrated user journey such as the example above maximises the value and impact of high-quality, informative analysis.

Boosting renewal rates

Following a subscription purchase, the capabilities offered by a content delivery system to streamline workflows and enable the consumer to easily collate bespoke reports could be the overriding factor driving positive renewal discussions. A user-friendly solution will also act as the catalyst for wider use amongst colleagues, expanding the subscriber base within that company and providing further growth opportunities.

From streamlining and automating repeatable tasks and effectively pulling together analysis to increasing overall efficiency and empowering your customers to work more productively, the benefits of having a workflow system in place as part of a subscription model are clear and should be a natural counterpoint to a publishers’ high-quality analysis.

Four questions publishers of B2B information should ask about their subscribers’ work:

1. What tasks does the subscriber use my content for?
2. What (specific) tasks does the user need to perform to get the job done?
3. To perform these tasks what steps does a user need to take?
4. What workflow tools can we provide to reduce friction or speed task completion?


  • End-user workflow
  • Search
  • Subscribers

Choosing the right research publishing platform: A practical guide to selecting the best content platform

A practical guide to selecting the best content platform

Introducing the FAVER methodology

Have you ever wondered how the most successful companies ensure they choose the right supplier for their business?

Email me the handbook

Choosing a new software provider is a challenge for any organisation. There are multiple considerations to make around business objectives, functionality, security and cost.

Picking the right solution for your company is a complex process and will involve much consideration and many team members. At Content Catalyst we have helped hundreds of publishing professionals solve this challenge. We have been supplying software to market analyst firms and research publishers for over 16 years. Without being too boastful – we like to think of ourselves as experts!

We have complied our knowledge and expertise in publishing systems (at last count we had over 100 years’ experience!) and put together an essential 22-page guide to help publishers make wise choices. We have even designed a lightweight methodology called FAVER to help you lay the groundwork needed to switch to a new software supplier.

The guide is packed with useful advice from those on the sharp end of system deployment. By downloading and reading this guide you will be able:

  • Better manage your supplier identification project,
  • Specify the business objectives driving new system adoption
  • Ensure you have considered how to manage your customers’ experience,
  • Understand the resource needed to transition to a new system; and,
  • Use our handy checklist to track progress of your decision-making process.

By reading the guide we guarantee you will be much better prepared to tackle the process of finding a supplier and will be able to confidently reach a purchasing decision.


Who this guide is for
How to use this guide

Stage I: Needs & Planning
Why switch?
Success expectations
Team and stakeholders
Your customers’ experience
Workflow practices
Stage I: Recap

Stage II: System Specifications
Essential functionality
Your content
Branding and white labelling
Access to information
Integrations and APIs
Technical and security requirements
Stage II: Recap

Stage III: Supplier Selection
Maximising a demonstration
Cultural fit & experience
Time and resource
Price and ongoing costs
Negotiating the contract
Contract length
Payment terms
Contract terms
Launch plan Stage III: Recap

FAVER methodology checklist

About Content Catalyst Ltd

How market analysts and intelligence professionals buy, use and apply research in their work

Key drivers for building trust in market analysis

In order to succeed in the intangible world of market analysis you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Email me the handbook

This whitepaper will improve your understanding of how readers and users of syndicated B2B content and market data perform their tasks. The findings draw on first-hand interviews and surveys of senior people working in US and European companies in market and competitive intelligence analysis roles.

Data charts included:

  • Average size of a corporate market analyst and competitive intelligence team
  • Main internal customers for departmental work
  • Main activities market analysts and CI professionals are involved in
  • Average number of syndicated reports respondents purchase a year
  • Major competitive intelligence challenge in a company

The whitepaper will help you understand:

  • What buyers of syndicated market reports think about publishers
  • Key tasks that competitive intelligence professionals carry out
  • Why trust is the most important asset for publishers and in-house market analysts
  • How market analysts can demonstrate value and influence decision-making

If you are involved in either selling or buying high-value B2B content or data, then this whitepaper is essential reading.

How workflow tools are critical to the success of a research firm’s subscription model

When a customer buys a single report supplied over email in PDF format, they can just sit and read it. No functionality is required to help them do this. But if a subscriber has access to more than 100 reports, to make all that content work in their favour, they’re going to need some help to find and pull out all the necessary and pertinent information.

For the relationships that exist between all pieces of content in a portfolio to add up, and for customers to be able to maximise the value of their subscription, a publishing firm needs to provide end users with a set of smart tools.

Improved levels of service

For an individual subscription to be worthwhile, the user has to feel like its benefiting them and helping them to their job better and quicker. A wealth of workflow tools not only helps the user achieve this, it helps a publishing firm understand more about what the user wants and enables them to feed this back into the development process.

So then, which tools are most useful?

Good quality search and the structuring of returns is vital. In fact, search is the number one workflow tool, in terms of usefulness to the subscriber. Corporates value search so highly some have been known to cancel entire global subscriptions because users have not been able to find the information they need from large portfolios.

If an end user is trying to make a comparison of data or analysis from multiple reports, it’s unlikely they’ll want to open all those reports simultaneously. A snippet of each relevant section is more useful. In addition, it might be quite handy for a user to view relevant returns for all reports – even those for they don’t yet have access to.

Relevant snippets of content should then be easily saveable in a clippings list, which is equally easy to locate at a later date.

So, you’ve found info. What next?

What about exporting various points of information, wherever they have come from and in whatever format, and unifying them all for export as an Office doc?

Search, find relevant content, save to clippings, and export to Word, PPT, or Excel in seconds. Then edit your document in the platform to finalise that dataset for your meeting, that presentation for the Board, or that report for your boss, without having to reformat any of the elements it contains.

Smart tools = happy users

Once a subscription has been sold, the ability for the end user to easily navigate and pull together bespoke reports is the main element that will ensure high renewal rates. It’s this simplicity that will also encourage end-users to advocate use of the platform amongst colleagues and for a subscriber base to grow within that business.

Why reports aren’t declining – but the future of market intelligence is changing

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.”

Mitali Mookerjee

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

The Future Market Analyst

Six ways publishing technology equips analyst teams for future success