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    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

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Olivier de Gaudemar

Hi Ray,

Let me play the devil's advocate here: I had a discussion the other day with an online sample/programming/DP... outsourcing company that was telling me that my agency had to focus on its core competencies (see above) and let them do the rest of the work. So I asked him, "among all the processes that you want me to oursource to your company, which ones are really your core competency and which should be outsourced somewhere else..."

I am all for focusing on core competencies, but only to companies who have the same logic. I am buying sample from some vendors, but I would use other vendors for programming and hosting, for reporting, data processing... A lot of vendors ask research agencies to divest non-core activities, but don't apply their principles to themselves. Should there be huge data collection factories, (doing from #1 to #6), or should there be one specialist for sample, one for programming, one for data processing... And, if that is the case, what happens with the expertise to coordinate all those people, make sure that the best service is provided at each step? This is called production, and I believe that it is an expertise in itself. Most of the good experienced researchers I have met are excellent producers. Isn't it after all what market research has been all about for a very long time: excellent production?

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