The following represents a Q & A with co-founder of My-Take, Todd Hoskins. In this article, we discuss the insight online community space in terms of changes and innovation taking place in this important category of research.
First, a lot of different descriptions are used for this category, is that a result of them evolving into something new?
Hoskins: I would say to some degree that is true, but there has always been some confusion in this category. This type of research has been described as market research online communities, online communities, insight communities, and panels. So, many discussions with prospective clients begin with what their objectives are for the research, so we can make sure everyone is on the same page. What has really changed is the proliferation of communities and the broadening of their use cases. A big enabler to this has been the introduction of new features and innovation among some of the platforms.
What were the customer needs driving the need for innovation within the online communities’ category?
Hoskins: There have been some pretty fundamental changes we have seen over our ten years in this space. The key needs, and resulting innovations, have been around: scalability of the platform, faster insights, enhanced data security, flexibility, and expanded tools including those outside of qual.
How does My-Take approach innovation, and what are your sources of inspiration?
Hoskins: First and foremost we listen to our customers. One of the advantages of a company our size and culture is that we can act on client needs quickly. Further, our executive team is very experienced in leading product development efforts with very large companies. So we feel we have all the experience and process capability without the bureaucracy. We also have a client’s perspective since we had been on the other side of the table for many years. We know the challenge companies have with integrating VoC in their plans, so we just naturally have a very high bar in terms of what we deliver from our community platform.
So how has My-Take tackled these client needs?
Hoskins: We've taken a different approach than many in this space. Our technology is My-Take developed. Instead of working with other companies to add features we choose to develop our own, so we have a very integrated system and one in which we truly understand all the technology deployed. Also because the technology is ours we have the ability to enact any changes needed. The other important aspect is cultural. When we hear an idea from a prospective or existing client that would be beneficial for the platform we go about building it. We aren't waiting for a bi-annual release date.
So what are some of the more behind the scenes innovations, that might not be as visible to customers?
Hoskins: Scalability and security come to mind as advancements that might not be as visible to companies evaluating community platforms. We saw the trend toward larger communities and more segmentation and refined our platform accordingly. Analysis tools are also a part of this customer need. We’ve integrated: cross tabs, banner tables, and statistics. From a security perspective, we’ve been busy as well. All data is end-to-end encrypted, we have multi-factor authentication, permission-based client roles, and privacy shield certification.
Another factor that might not be as visible is flexibility in service options. We’ve seen a trend of prospective clients looking for flexibility in service. Some companies may just want SaaS (DIY) engagements, while others may want the community supplier to provide all services including moderation, activity creation, programming, analysis and reporting. Others may wish to do several of those internally, and others may wish to start with all services provided by the community supplier, and them ultimately move to SaaS (DIY). My-Take makes it easy to for companies to operate in any service mode.
What are some of the more advanced features that might be more visible to companies?
Hoskins: Several features stand out.
The first innovation I want to cover is in Artificial Intelligence. My-Take has always taken the position of automating as much of the community work as possible so that insights can be delivered faster and more reliably. This allows our Insights Managers to focus on higher level insight analysis. Our early work in this area yielded innovations such as our Smart Summary. However, our most recent innovation is TextCoder AI which is technology we created to address the trend toward larger communities with a tool that allows for a fast but accurate means to code a large number of open-end responses. Our technology is especially designed for a community environment and our algorithm can learn from previous studies.
The second innovation is a series of innovations around video management. We know from our independent research that video is widely used and will only continue to grow especially with the two younger generations - Millennials and Generation Z. Therefore, we put in place tools that make it easy for community members to post their videos from both their PC and mobile devices. At the same time, we’ve make it easy to deploy video for securing feedback among members. We also have tools that help to analyze video through our dial testing application. Another nice tool we deploy is our video editing suite which helps users turn raw video into something that is more digestible and impactful for the audience. These video tools can really bring a research study to life and persuade an audience in a way that is not always possible with just charts and graphs.
We also deploy another tool for helping to create more powerful stories. We’ve integrated Infographic tools within our platform. The Infographic tool is a series of widget, icons, and templates that allow the user to create a more visually impactful story. This tool has been used extensively by our customers. Some of the top uses have been as a visual tool to share a story in a less detailed but more powerful way to important stakeholders in the organization. Another typical use is to create a share-back of information to members of the community as a means to strengthen engagement.
So what's next for My-Take?
Hoskins: As always we will listen very closely to our existing and prospective clients. In addition, we have a robust roadmap of new features we will be deploying over the next 12 months.
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