Assessing the database needs of research and analysis providers

In order to achieve their business ambitions and stay ahead of the curve, research and analysis firms need to ensure they have a database system that is flexible.

No one can deny that market research is key to getting a competitive edge in whichever business sector you operate. But how do market research and analysis companies make sure that they stay on top of their game to give the best clarity?

Keeping abreast of emerging market trends is demanding, and once those key areas have been identified they need to be recorded on a system that’s flexible, includes extensive validation checks and reduces the risk of incorrect data, to ensure companies can operate fluently and maintain their reputation as a reliable source of insights.

Database redesign for TechMarketView

Founded in 2009 by leading analysts Richard Holway and Anthony Miller, TechMarketView is a respected provider of research and analysis on the UK software and IT services market. Its insight is relied upon by technology suppliers to keep abreast of competitors and emerging market trends.

Fundamental to TechMarketView’s research is its database of UK tech companies, containing financial data about each supplier. This data is updated continually by TechMarketView analysts, remotely from their homes and via mobile devices as the company does not have a central office.

Traditionally, the business has focused its attentions on some 200 software and IT services suppliers; but the plan now is to expand that coverage to several thousand, and increase the scope of information collected on each.

Achieving ambitions such as these requires having the right tech, and the original database system at TechMarketView didn’t offer the scalability and flexibility now needed. The system didn’t have any inherent reporting capabilities either, so to conduct analysis the team had to export the entire database to Excel. As the company’s vision for new products and services grew, this limitation increasingly presented a barrier to progress.

Overcoming obstacles

Taking a fresh look at the market in its search for a suitable development partner, TechMarketView partnered with DCSL Software (DCSL). ‘DCSL Software seemed to have advanced design tools; the prototyping and design sessions we went through with them were a revelation to us. We hadn’t seen those tools used before. It did transform the effectiveness of the design process’, comments Anthony Miller, co-Founder and Managing Director of TechMarketView.

With a team of two full-time developers, a tester/liaison and an overseeing architect, DCSL built the new database system using the latest Microsoft ASP.NET technologies. It created two online portals – one which analysts could use to test data, and the other to work with real data. TechMarketView was involved throughout the process, in face-to-face meetings and also via email, phone and Skype.

The new system, into which DCSL has migrated all of TechMarketView’s existing company data, has integral analysis and reporting. It highly scalable and, crucially, can be changed by authorised analysts. Although the system is inherently very intuitive, DCSL also provided training to the analysts to make sure that the system would be fully utilised.

Here and now

Although the new system has only just gone live, Mr Miller reports that it has been enthusiastically embraced by the analyst team, ‘We’ve added a lot more functionality to the system, even in the day-to-day use. Not every member of the team has the authority to change the construct of the database, but in terms of using the database for its primary purpose, which is to store and retrieve company data, everybody is really happy with the new functionality that we’ve incorporated.’

The new database system includes extensive data validation checks, so there is less risk of entering incorrect data. The built-in analysis makes it much easier and quicker to make comparisons between companies. This now takes a few minutes rather than several hours. These abilities are vital to making sure the research and analysis presented is correct, relevant and timely, without hitting these three key points, providers will struggle to succeed in being one step ahead of the competition.

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