Anyone can do technology market research, right?
Wrong. When dealing with IT professionals, it is very important to actually understand technology, for several reasons:
When the researcher understands technology, she gains the respect of the participants. As a result, they cooperate with her and share more of their own knowledge and expertise. The resulting marketing analysis is highly focused and useful.
When the researcher is a technology expert, the participants are comfortable using professional terminology and speaking at a deeper level of technical detail, because they know the researcher will “get it.” Again, the result is a highly effective marketing analysis.
A moderator who has expertise in technology can ask the right follow-on questions, because he understands what the IT professionals are talking about: Let’s imagine a scenario where a moderator is talking to a security professional about network security. The security professional unexpectedly starts talking about application development. Many moderators would not understand the connection between developers and security experts, and would have missed the opportunity to learn more about this important relationship.
A moderator who is a technology expert is knowledgeable about the application development lifecycle – past, current, and future. Such a moderator will drill down into exactly how when exactly the security professional works with the developers, and use the knowledge he gains to create actionable recommendations. This is not a theoretical scenario: the key to success in a recent project I worked on was understanding the involvement of both security and development teams in the purchasing process. Understanding the workplace dynamics between the two teams allowed me to recommend a go-to-market strategy that focused on the diverse roles these different players had.
Another great example from my own professional experience of using technology expertise to produce better, more accurate technology marketing analysis: a moderator who was comfortable with ITIL enabled a group of participants from Europe to use the ITIL language to quickly communicate their issues. No time was wasted with this group of busy IT executives explaining basic concepts such as the difference between incident management and problem management. Since the moderator was familiar with these concepts, the conversation was highly efficient and focused on pinpointing issues and brainstorming solutions rather than on explaining fundamentals.