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According to a recent study that we conducted, accountancy firms currently waste over £1.2 billion a year on research that does not produce any effective business insights, and 45 million man hours are spent each year on sourcing data that is ineffective. Worse still,seven out of ten accountants surveyed (70%) feel that the time spent researching is wasted and the results found are unreliable.

Sourcing effective research is important, as it not only affects a firm’s ability to attract new clients, but also dictates how well it can retain its existing ones. Effective market research is therefore essential to an accountancy firm’s growth and expansion into new markets. Outdated strategies, supplemented by an over saturated marketing approach, will likely cause firms to fall behind their competition and miss out on potential business opportunities.

So how can accountancy firms produce effective market research?

The results of our survey highlight an underlying problem that not only plagues accountancy firms, but all businesses. With the rise of the internet in the 21st century, market research has been radically transformed. Businesses no longer need to invest time in simply finding data, but instead must sift through a mountain of information to find the precious insights within.

As a result, accountancy firms must move away from research that simply sources any and all information that may or may not be relevant to the business. Firms must realise that a wholesale ‘data dump’is likely to bury any potentially meaningful insights related to the marketplace, clients or competitors.

As such, any research that firms undertake must move towards prioritising specific business insights. Rather than casting a wide net and dragging back everything that is trapped within, firms need focus on precision.

The latest technology has created an environment whereby it is very easy to drown in the sheer amount of raw data available. However, technology can also help to create and improve tools to that accountancy firms need to filter the gold from the mud.

Online market research has become the accepted standard for firms all across the world, yet many firms know that conducting this research in-house won’t produce the best results. This hasfuelled the rise of companies that focus exclusively on producing key business insights in a quick, objective and accurate manner.

Enlightened firms are already moving towards this specialised, problem solving-centric model. These firms know that effective research starts with identifying their particular challenges, followed by the ability to obtain the business insights they need to solve them. With billions of pounds and millions of man-hours lost on unproductive research, it’s no surprise that the use of these services is becoming more and more popular amongst firms.

After all, accountancy firms will only realise the full potential of market research when they begin to use it as an enabler to solve these issues.

However, in order to achieve this goal, firms will need to move their research methods away from sourcing ineffective data and focus on business insights provided by data filtering and analysis instead.

Many firms have already commissioned these insights externally, using services specifically designed to find these trends.This approach offers a strong alternative to inefficient research practices of the past. Independent research firms can help firms to save both time and money that would otherwise be spent on organising this activity in-house; this new approach to market research will not only improve employee productivity, but will also support greater staff wellbeing, since accountants will be able to trust the business insights they receive, rather than drowning in useless and unreliable data.