By Wale Omiyale

When we talk about Return on Investment, we think about financial gain. How much will our business increase its bottom line as the result of investing in technology, people, processes or other assets?

The ultimate goal of any investment is higher profitability over a longer period of time, through improved revenue or reduced cost. But this is too simplistic to be a measure of success on its own, and to truly understand how to measure ROI we need to look across the entire spectrum of business activity.
In market research, pressure is increasing to invest more in technology to keep pace with customer change and extend growth. Technology can answer the growing need to monitor and report on compliance and security. It can also help to break down the ongoing challenge of data silos that restrict the speed and efficiency of data processing and analysis.
Currently, though, market research organisations spend an average of just 1% of revenue on technology, compared to an average of 3.3% across all primary industry sectors , yet there are myriad tools, solutions and add-ons that promise to deliver faster, deeper and cheaper insight – answering the long-term pressure these organisations are facing to do more with less.
The sheer volume of potential technology investment is greater than ever before, and will only grow as providers develop better, more capable solutions to drive efficiency and cost-reduction. But is this wealth of opportunity and vast array creating a barrier to investment, making the selection of solutions too complex, and evaluating ROI a seeming impossibility?

Simplifying the steps to ROI

From discussions across our industry and with clients, analysts and commentators, it’s certainly apparent that investment needs to be clearly defined and the steps to evaluating ROI made more accessible. So, when it comes to investing in new technology tools to support the research process, we have identified four key areas of ROI opportunity to measure: financial, operational, technical and strategic.
I’ll start with strategy because it’s essential to understand the motivation for investment and with increasingly demanding clients seeking shorter delivery times on reduced budgets, the ‘bigger picture’ has never been so important.
The ultimate measures of strategic ROI are satisfying your customers, gaining long-term loyalty, enhancing your brand, and winning new business through positive referral. Technology can help by driving faster and more efficient project delivery, allowing the development of new product offerings, and demonstrating your brand’s alignment with the changing needs of your clients.

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