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Chained vendors: Linking success in insights market

A feature image on black background with green murmurations showing a diagram representing linking distinct vendors together to provide a good tech solution.

You will probably not recognize the phrase chained vendors and although it conjures images of tech bros behind bars, it actually refers to the idea of linking distinct vendors in a chain to achieve your research goals.

This is opposed to having a one-point solution with which you can run your whole process. And it is one of the questions that sophisticated buyers are having to seriously consider more closely.

Let’s dive in a little further. The first thing to establish is that the above question takes a different shape depending on a few key variables. These include the data you are attempting to derive insights from, the types of questions you are hoping to answer, and the stakeholders you are presenting to.

The three loops in the vendor chain

Here, I will use a reasonably simple use case with data that lends itself to either option – good old-fashioned surveys.

As I am sure you are aware, the major survey vendors (Qualtrics, Medallia, etc.) have long been attempting to expand their usage beyond the collection of data and allow for analysis and visualization.

In my view, these are the three loops in the proverbial chain of vendors. The full picture can be summarized as:

  1. Data collection
  2. Data organization and cleaning
  3. Analysis
  4. Visualization
  5. Presentation

Choosing the right approach to chained vendors

In my perspective, major survey vendors have indeed made successful strides in expanding their services as mentioned above. However, the question that arises is whether, as an Insights Professional, should you be happy with strong but perhaps not best-in-class capabilities, all confined within a single vendor, with one customer success person and a single contract.

Alternatively, would it be more beneficial for you to opt for specialized, chained vendors to take control of each of the steps, and integrate them through APIs, SDKs, or other solutions to connect the chain up so it flows smoothly?

As a specialist text analytics vendor, you are perhaps expecting me to suggest that you need specialist vendors chained together… And you would be mistaken, as I truly think it should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

At Relative Insight, we understand that it is important to make the customers’ lives as easy as possible while empowering them with access to a best-in-class tool kit. That’s why we have expanded our remit to allow for seamless data upload, cleaning, analysis, and visualization. Currently, we do not provide the two bookends of data collection and presentation. 

The future of insights market

So, that is my view of the future – I think that within the insights market, further consolidation is due. We have seen a similar trend in areas like social listening and media monitoring. There, many tools that are solving the same or adjacent problems have been grouped up.

However, we haven’t seen a significant consolidation of an Insights Professional’s job into large groups such as Meltwater, Brandwatch, or Cision.

If a vendor or a group of chained vendors can start to truly own and provide best-in-class tools for all five stages, then they will become the obvious choice. But, as yet, this has simply not happened.

Ready, steady… Go!

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2 comments to “Chained vendors: Linking success in insights market”

  1. Trish says:

    The concept of chained vendors is indeed an intriguing approach, and the breakdown of the three loops helps to provide clarity on the different stages. I agree that major survey vendors’ expansion efforts are impressive, but I also see the appeal of specialized vendors for distinct stages. As you suggest, a case-by-case evaluation is essential to make the right choice.

  2. Rauri says:

    It’s an interesting debate, a one stop shop vs chained, specialist providers. As you say, there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. Another factor I think is important to consider it the flexibility that chained vendors can offer. If you want a quick and dirty report, then maybe your survey/social listening tools analysis will do the job, but having the ability to seamlessly plug into a specific tool will always be valuable for more in depth research.