See the PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF BUSINESS RESEARCH IN NIGERIA. Business research is a systematic process whereby a company obtains data and analyzes it in order to better manage the company.
In simpler terms, business research involves a company obtaining data on factors that affect the company in order to plan and make better decisions.
The data a company obtains ranges across a number of different categories. They include:
Financial data is any data that has to do with money. These are data that relate to money that flow in and out of the company, money that the company loses/gains, money that the company might lose or gain, data that can affect what a company loses/gains, etc. Financial data takes qualitative information, such as sales reports, revenues and cost reports to see what areas make money and what areas cost money. Efficient/Inefficient departments and staff can be pointed out.
Competitive analysis occurs when a company compares its products and services with/to those of other companies. This is usually done to improve the product/service, evaluate price, or try to steal a larger market share. By comparing your company with others, you can know where your company is lagging behind and the advantage your company has over others. You can see what customers love about other companies products.
This kind of research is usually done to improve the company’s product. Research is done on what new techniques can be used, what new strategies can be utilized, what can be added to the product, what can be removed from the product. It seeks to improve the product to meet the needs of consumers. It also involves research into distribution channels.
This, just like a competitive analysis involves comparing the company with other entities, except that inthis case, it looks at the industry as a whole and not just one particular company. It helps the company understand how it is faring in the industry.
This is very important because it involves understanding what the users of the company’s products say about the product as it deals with quality, ease of use, availability, etc. It can be done using questionnaires, surveys, focus groups and case studies
A business research method refers to a set of research techniques that companies use or employ in order to determine if a specific business venture or endeavor is worth their time and effort. It helps companies decide on the viability of business, assess business success and look into the future of the business.
A variety of business research methods can be used. They include:
– CASE STUDY: This is a business research method in which a business familiarizes itself with the way consumers react to a product or service. It usually requires a lot of time.
– FOCUS GROUPS: This involves the gathering of
a small set or group of people and analysing information obtained from them regarding their experiences with the product or services. High level of skill is required to properly handle this kind of method because people in the group might just be saying what they know the company wants to hear, so as not to discredit the company in their face.
– SURVEYS/INTERVIEWS: Surveys give companies a large amount of information while interviews are mich more directed towards specifics. Questionnaires can also be used to easily gather information from a target population.
Business research has several advantages. Some of them are:
Business research helps a company to identify problems. The very first step in any research process is the identification of problem. When this problem has been identified, querry into it usually reveals even more problems. This way, a company can identity its problems easily.
Business research is an executive tool that is used to improve financial outcomes, for example, market pricing. With business research, companies can determine the most reasonable prices to set. Research may show that based on current costs and market price, profits would be unattainable, and resources should be placed in other areas.
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Business research helps a company make predictions about the future of the company in various respects. Trends are analysed and evaluated. Predictions help to prepare better.
Business research helps companies identify the needs of customers, and how to make their products even better suited for their target market. Quality issues are identified and thrashed out.
Business research enables the company discover new technology and technique in making its products and rendering its services, thereby making its products cheaper with lower per unit cost, while equally possessing more quality.
Business research helps companies understand the entire market and how their business fits in. It helps it discover and set benchmarks.
Many a times, the market is already embracing a trend. Business research can help a company to be active in that trend and increase sales.
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The challenges faced by companies who go into business research are:
The inadequacy of data makes it very difficult to make comparisons with other companies and the industry as a whole. Due to the inadequacy of data, companies do not have a clear image of the real state of things.
Many companies and institutions manipulate their figures and presumed qualitative characteristics, which makes it difficult to trust results obtained from business research.
This involves how businesses gather, handle and integrate the vast amounts of data from both primary and alternative research resources to make sense of all the data points. Mismanagement of data can cause serious problems. The ”work with what we have mentality” can be troubling when data is mismanaged.
According to experts, about 56% of respondents mention methodology as one of the biggest challanges they face. Selecting the right methodology to suit the type of business, the kind of data, the type of respondents, etc. is difficult work. There are too many comopeting techniques and most researchers for companies do not receive enough training to become proficient at any of these. These techniques often yield different results even for the same data set.
Low response rates makes it difficult to make conclusions since it can’t be said with even near certainty that the numbers gotten reflect a good sample for the population.
Getting data can often prove to be difficult especially when the data includes what some might consider private, personal or sensitive.
One other problem associated with business research is finances. A proper business research requires committment of good money. These days, money is something that most companies don’t want to release easily.
The technology required to process data, especially large data, faster costs a lot and most companies still stick to the conventional means. The technology available is not really able to meet up with the rapidly increasing needs of the equally rapidly rising population.
This explains itself. The lack of qualified personnel to do a good business research job makes things more difficult to determine. Even results are not very reliable.
These days, the word on the lips of everyone is ‘economy’. In these trying times, people have changed their spending habits. Thus, trends are constantly changing. The known ways for determining results are becoming inapplicable because people are drifting from what they are normally supposed to be doing. For example, in the past, a cheaper price could mean lower quality, hence it could reduce sales if the target market is not correctly investigated. These days, people buy the cheaper things simply because they are cheaper.
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The world is rapidly changing, Nigeria included. Business research is very useful to business but it is faced with a number of challenges. It is recommended that companies should employ experts to carry out their business research and spend appropriately to carry out their investigations.
The benefits outweigh the costs. Some of these challenges would remain forever, so companies should try to work around them and get better results.
Simple research methodology should be adopted as no technique can give perfectly accurate results. Hence, professional judgement and experience is required in making strategic decisions concerning the business.
Business research is very vital for the success of any business.