We often hear people say how everything used to be better. Finland as a nation used to perform better in sports, there used to be much more snow in the winter, and so on. Some have even found it offensive that the world appears to be very different compared to what it was a few decades ago.
Furthermore, the framework of the research world has been through massive changes. The rapid technological development has opened up new possibilities for both collecting and analysing data.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other laws and regulations have also contributed to changes in how research is carried out. I have had the opportunity to observe this transformation of the research world from a front-row seat. For me, the spring of 2019 marked 12 years of working for Innolink, a company which today supplies its knowledge-driven leadership services to 40 of Finland’s 100 largest companies.
In my mind, a perfect example of the fundamental changes in the research world is the increasingly compact nature of different forms. Approximately ten years ago all the questions on a form were studied with extensive indicators, and even the tiniest nice-to-know details were included in the forms. Telephone interviews with decision-makers could easily take up to 15 minutes of the respondent’s time.
Today, when I examine Innolink forms, I can see that they have become more concentrated in many respects, and the duration of telephone interviews is approaching the five-minute window. In turn, the questions on the forms provide input data for the organisations’ most important KPI indicators, which can be linked directly to smart knowledge-driven leadership or, for example, to the framework of performance-based pay. In other words, the research world has shifted from an information overflow and an overwhelming flood of research data into a situation where less is more.
From the perspective of a research professional, I must say that planning and conducting good and informative research has not become any easier. At present, this job requires even more expertise and a more comprehensive consultative approach than ever before. However, the work is rewarding. The feedback received by Innolink has confirmed that the new indicator system represents development in the right direction. Our customers feel very strongly that knowledge-driven leadership as well as the utilisation of research data have become more productive now that we are focusing on the right things at the research interface – and with the right intensity.
In Aleksis Kivi’s famous play Heath Cobblers, the cobbler Topias aptly reminds his son Esko of the changing world. To quote Topias, and slightly adapt the original text of Kivi, one might say that “yessir, so the research world does change, Esko my boy, but believe me when I say that change is for the better!”
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