Insight Community: Should I Go with SaaS or Full Service?

insight community platform

With a 59% market penetration rate and another 21% of the market considering the method, insight communities are truly a mainstream type of research.  In fact, the capabilities of insight community are expanding which is likely to yield even greater usage. However, a question many companies ponder is:  should I be doing this myself through software as a service (SaaS) or do I need a full-service model?

MROC (Market Research Online Community): SaaS or Full Service?

 Key Responsibilities in Managing an Online Insight Community

In order to make a decision on the desired service level, it is helpful to understand the basic responsibilities of an insight community. Thinking through your organization’s expertise and capacity in these areas serves as a starting point.

  • Community design/setup
  • Recruiting/screening members
  • Communication with members
  • Moderation/administration to drive member engagement
  • Activity selection and creation
  • Activity programming into the platform
  • Coding, analysis, and reporting

 Key Variables to Consider

Below are some questions you and your company should consider when evaluating the proper level of service:

  1. Do we have the expertise within the company? 

As outlined above, an insight community has several important aspects that will determine success.  Sometimes organizations will have the expertise within the company to successfully execute all functions required.  However, some organizations may be lacking in certain areas and need to include some or all of the professional services from the insight community provider.  For example, an organization with no dedicated research professionals would be much more likely to go with full-service option.

  1. Does our company have the resources to successfully manage the community?

Sometimes an organization has the expertise but not the resources to execute some or all of the responsibilities.  A small staff at a very large organization may not have time to focus on the community or the needed analysis and reporting.  The staff may be working on multiple research initiatives simultaneously.

  1. Would our company prefer or need an outside perspective on the insights?

Often the expertise exists within the company, but there is a recognition that an outside perspective could bring additional value or be more likely to affect change by introducing a new, or more objective, voice.

  1. Would we be able to maintain consistent focus on the community?

Any insight community is not extremely high maintenance, but consistency in interaction and introduction of activities is central to maintaining optimal community member engagement.  Organizations may have ongoing urgent needs that pull the internal researcher away from the community. 

  1. What can we afford?

Obviously, the budget plays a key role as well.  Having the insight community provider’s expertise and additional capacity is great, but it might not be possible for some companies, at least in the short term.

Hybrid or Transition

There are also a couple of other options.  First, an organization could deploy a Hybrid model (company chooses select services).  For example some organizations prefer to do their own activity creation, analysis, and reporting, but prefer the insight community provider to moderate the community and program the activities.

Second, an organization might want to start with a full-service model to help ensure a strong foundation and learn some of the nuances of managing a community, but then later transition to SaaS model. Likewise some organizations transition from SaaS to full service. Reasons for the change could include an increase in their budget or the need for more resource.

Final Thoughts

The decision to establish an insight community is exciting and should yield a great return through speed, volume, and depth of insights.  If you are working with a strong provider who has both a powerful platform and a great team for professional services, you really can’t lose.  It is also helpful if you are working with an insight community provider who is flexible and looking to help you find the model that fits your needs best.  If you have questions on which model might be best for your organization, please reach out to us.

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Todd Hoskins

Partnered with Rich Armstrong to form My-Take in 2010 to focus on creating a more integrated and immediate platform and service to help organizations succeed in the marketplace through more customer informed decision making.


My-Take is a greater Boston based insight and marketing technology company that helps companies make smarter decisions and market more effectively through powerful online communities and panels.

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