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Decisions, Decisions: Basing Business Choices on Fact, Not Fiction

Decisions, Decisions: Basing Business Choices on Fact, Not Fiction

A company makes many important choices over the course of its existence. Unfortunately, too many organizations embark on decisions due to faulty facts — or, worse, complete fiction.

For example, market research is critical for a company rolling out a new product. However, unless they make the right calls, both in the development of the product, as well as its marketing, there’s a large chance the millions of dollars invested in a launch will be completely wasted. The rate of failure of new products has been estimated to be anywhere from 40% all the way to 80%. According to the Harvard Business Review, less than 3% of new consumer packaged goods enjoy a successful first-year roll-out. Even the biggest corporate powerhouses can have difficulty connecting with the public when they present a new offering.


Tim Lane of the Oxford School of Marketing offers his take on the answers in an online article — with the number one reason he cited for new product failure being this: “A lack of independent and unbiased research into the market and target audience.”

When it comes to plotting a profitable future, it’s never good business to do it by shooting in the dark. Guesswork is generally not rewarded in the marketplace. Unfortunately, at this point, neither is using Google (or any other traditional search engine, such as Yahoo! or Bing) for business research purposes. The issues with this approach are manifold. Consistency is nonexistent and there’s absolutely no guarantee of quality.

Most alarmingly, the accuracy of traditional search engine results is highly questionable. Only five percent of educators, who value facts above all else, report all — or nearly all of the information they find via traditional search engines is trustworthy. Why would this be? Because popular search engines conduct superficial searches of largely promotional websites, not deep dives into relevant, high-quality material. For example, a hospital website might possess the appearance of an educational portal, but could really be promotional in nature, offering cherry-picked facts instead of an objective view the whole picture.

Moreover, it’s easy to be tricked into believing the first few listings on a Google results page are the most trustworthy ones. However, crafty SEO tricks, coupled with sites paying for high placements can overwhelmingly dominate the first page of results, forcing users to click through link after link of sources which may lack reliable, objective content. Moreover, they can prove completely irrelevant to a market researcher’s specific needs.

The easiest way to improve the quality of search results is to improve the quality of the content being searched.  A serious market research team requires content not readily found through the likes of Google, but, instead, from reputable sources, such as subscription research, an organization’s internal studies, and industry-specific “deep web” materials. To uncover those hard-to-find sources requires a robust knowledge management system, augmented by AI and Machine Learning capabilities. These capabilities give a portal the ability to scan the actual content of these high quality online sites and retrieve cogent insights and summaries. The user can then direct the system to retrieve more information from the specific kinds of information they find more useful. Most importantly, they can easily avoid ads and promotional material in favor of cold, hard facts.

This kind of knowledge management system not only pays for itself, but often delivers an astonishing ROI on a company’s investment. That’s the feedback we’ve been gratified to receive here at Northern Light from clients who utilize our SinglePoint platform for their market research and intelligence needs. In just one of the many positive Use Cases we’ve compiled, one such corporate client was able to cut time to market by six to nine months on key product launches, beating the competition and producing $2 billion in annual revenue gains. The organization credited their success to the market research department’s efficiency in answering product feature and marketing questions much more quickly than in the past.

I have a fantasy scenario for how a senior manager at one of the competitors of our client cited above reacted to being beaten time after time to market, losing $2 billion in revenue to our client.  I visualize he or she gazing pensively out the office window and thinking, “I wonder if their market research knowledge management system is better than ours?”

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