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Why are teams building centralised insight repositories?
Research excellence

Why are teams building centralised insight repositories?

Today’s high maturity teams are looking to make the key findings from user research more accessible for wider teams and stakeholders. But the foundations upon which knowledge is managed are as important as the knowledge itself.

Nick Russell
November 26, 2021


In a previous post we talked about the tools being used today to build centralised insight repositories. In this post we’ll be talking about why organisations have started to develop these solutions and also outline the foundations required by any repository solution in order to make research and insights truly accessible for wider teams and stakeholders.

Managing user research is hard

From the hundreds of interviews on user research that we’ve conducted at Dualo (and yes, it can get pretty meta at times - researching research) there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear, managing user research is hard:

- Insights are often locked away in people’s heads or at the bottom of a slide deck somewhere

- It’s really easy to lose track of what’s been previously investigated and to repeat work that others have already done or are working on

- It’s not always clear how much impact the findings of your research have had or who’s been engaging with them; and

- It’s common to suddenly get pulled away from what you’re doing to respond to that age old question: “Can you send me everything we have on ‘X’?” 🤦

It’s hard to know where to look for insights

To make matters worse, the number of tools used to research and analyse user behaviour and interactions has exploded in the past decade. 

Researchers should have full autonomy to use the research and analysis tools they believe are most appropriate for the job at hand, which means they should have the freedom to experiment with new products.

However, whilst these brilliant new tools help us to conduct better research, the proliferation in tools has made it increasingly difficult for people to know exactly where to look when searching for existing knowledge and valuable insights.

Researchers are outnumbered by stakeholder requests

It’s not uncommon for researchers to feel stretched, isolated, and under-represented when managing user research.

There are some common pain points we’re hearing time and time again from our conversations with people conducting research at product organisations today:

The compounding nature of user research

All of these pain points stack up across an organisation and can prevent teams from reaching a higher level of user research excellence if they’re not tackled head on.

We’ve summarised the compounding nature of these pain points in the following visual:

We’ve all been there, particularly as full time user researchers:

1. You receive a last minute request for all the insights you have on a certain subject.

2. You struggle to find any previous research on the topic because this is buried across the tools and teams in your organisation.

3. In the interest of providing a timely response, you start your research from scratch.

4. By completing your research you unknowingly create a brand new silo in your organisation.

5. You later discover an existing study relevant to the previous request but the person requesting this knowledge has already moved on to the next set of objectives.

This whole process eventually repeats itself the next time a new request for the insights available in this subject area is made. 

User research is clearly broken and it’s no wonder that today’s best product organisations are already taking action to change this.

Fortunately though, the compounding nature of user research works both ways. By using the right tools and techniques, organisations can very quickly start to amplify the value and impact of their user research. Ultimately through improving how the key findings from research are organised and distributed across the business.

The shift to centralised insight repositories

The user research industry has become wildly fragmented as a result of two macro trends:

- The explosion in research tools (as covered in the opening section for this post); and

- The move to a more distributed way of working, which has been massively accelerated by the global pandemic

Centralising the key findings from research across tools and teams has become the logical next step for organisations wanting to remain collaborative and gain a competitive edge in the ‘new normal’.

The democratisation of knowledge from research isn’t a new idea, it’s something that has been talked about for a number of years, but only now are teams really starting to bring research findings together in an attempt to keep researchers and product stakeholders connected in a more distributed world.

Unlocking insights for the wider organisation

Centralising research findings across tools and teams is the first step towards empowering product stakeholders to self-serve valuable knowledge on users. The closer teams get to this reality, the less researchers are pulled away from what they're doing to answer common research questions.

However centralising these findings is only the first step towards truly maximising the accessibility of this knowledge across an organisation. A few other foundations need to be in place surrounding how knowledge is structured in order to unlock this as a competitive advantage.

Firstly, insights need to be articulated in a way that's consistent, concise, and easily understandable for wider teams and stakeholders. This helps to improve how consumable this data is by non-researcher stakeholders, ultimately reducing the overall level of insight debt researchers and teams experience at the end of each research project or round of usability testing. We’re advocates of using the one-pager approach for this.

Secondly, you'll want to establish a global taxonomy that sits across all of your research findings, which will allow you to easily spot the higher level patterns present in the insights held across different teams. This helps to highlight where your organisation’s knowledge base is at its strongest and where there might be a need for further exploration.

Finally, you need a powerful search and advanced filter functionality to bring all of this together. With this, researchers and stakeholders are able to navigate with ease through the knowledge stored in your repository and gain access to the most relevant insights in the least amount of time. 

At Dualo we firmly believe these should form the foundations of any centralised insights repository, one that’s truly capable of noticeably reducing the number of “Can you send me everything you have on X” requests. This means teams spend less time searching through apps and reports for valuable knowledge and more time researching, designing, and building remarkable products for their customers.

You can learn more about the process today’s best product organisations are following to level up their research operations by downloading a free copy of our User research is broken: A guide on how to level up your research operations playbook, available here.

About Dualo

Dualo is an insights hub used by digital product teams to get more repeatable value from their user research and insights, so that stakeholders can make informed and timely decisions across the organisation. If you're interested in learning more, please request a demo and a member of our team will be in touch.

Nick Russell

I'm one of the Co-Founders of Dualo, passionate about research, design, product, and AI. Always open to chatting with others about these topics.

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