Behind the scenes

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This is our third annual State of Enterprise IT research project

Since the first project in 2016, we’ve learnt a lot about attitudes to technology and how the IT department is changing, and it’s been fascinating to see how the results change year-on-year

We want our research to be compelling, original and relevant every time, which means rethinking the project every year. How do we make sure we collect relevant data rather than just asking the same questions in the same way? And what’s the best way to report on our findings?

This is how we approached State of Enterprise IT this time around

 

Planning

 

We knew that running an identical project - same questions, same reports, same delivery - wouldn’t reflect how things have changed over the past year. We needed to update the questions and think about how to make the reports even better than before. We created a plan that meant we could build upon the first two years of data and build a thought-provoking, simple story that’s presented in new and exciting ways

We wanted to create content in different formats to showcase how to use research in different ways, and to make sure we could get as many people to connect with the findings as possible. We decided that we’d use the data to create a written summary of key findings, a whitepaper, an infographic, interactive quiz, and webinar, and we’d host it all on a single microsite

But we didn’t just plan out the content. We got everyone involved at the planning stages and agreed on the tasks and reports we’d need to perform over the whole project from start to finish, including timings and deadlines. We needed to agree who to interview, write and review questions, collect the data, and analyse the findings for a story, and we knew when and who would do that from the very start

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The research

 
 
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It would be easy to just repeat the questions from last time, but a lot happens in IT over a year so we reviewed and refined the questions to make sure they were up-to-date. We agreed what questions could be repeated, where answer lists might need to be updated, and brainstormed new questions to add

In addition to repeating our approach of running an online questionnaire with IT decision makers, we agreed to perform some in-depth interviews with business decision makers. We learned last time that responsibility for IT can often be made at a senior level elsewhere in the company, so the extra perspective from these qualitative interviews would give the findings a new dimension and give us a better understanding of the topic

We looked at the data when we had 75% of the interviews and started thinking about and discussing what the clearest and most engaging story would be. By the time all the research had been collected, we already knew what our key findings were and how they related to insights from the past two rounds of research 

 
 

The content

 
 

We produced more types of content than ever before for a single piece of research, and it was very easy because of our planning and preparation

We’d talked about the story in the data a lot by the time we started creating content. Because we’d dedicated so much time to finding a clear story and figuring out how it related to the previous years’ data, our focus here was deciding how that story would flow through each piece of content. We had a set of key findings, and knew they’d work well to entice readers into exploring the story further. We knew what would work well as a graphic, what would add extra value to the longer-form whitepaper, and what the key talking points for the webinar would be

We released everything on this microsite at the same time but didn’t host the webinar straight away to leave enough time for interest in the findings to build

Ben Daubney, Vanson Bourne marketing director

 
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The work we put into producing and sharing this research has resulted in around 50 new contacts and 600 unique microsite visitors in six weeks, and technologists and marketers continue to visit and download the reports every daily

Using research to produce a whole load of content can be simple, and we think we’ve managed to prove that with this microsite