Conducting Agile Research for B2B Audiences

December 23, 2022
3 minute read

This post originally appeared within the Logit Group's 2022 Insider's Guide to Market Research, distributed at CRC 2022.

It’s been more than 20 years since a group of software developers created the agile manifesto at The Lodge at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. The framework was so impactful that today 95% of engineering teams report that they employ agile development methods to help them bring products to market successfully. In recent years, the research space has started to take notice. Agile methodologies are already helping the consumer research space provide actionable insights early and often. Let’s take a look at how agile consumer research is conducted today and examine how we. can apply this process to B2B research.

A quick look at how it works

Agile consumer research came to prominence in the late 2010s as a response to consumers’ demand for more relevant and instant interaction with brands, likely, at least in part, due to the growth of social media. The demand for this type of research spiked during COVID with Kantar reporting a 60% increase in market place usage. Following an agile approach, companies can ideate, test and validate their ideas at a more rapid pace than they have historically.

This process has saved consumer targeted companies millions of dollars as they are able to avoid lengthy periods of prototyping products and services that consumers don’t actually want.

Four constructs of effective agile research

In order to run an effective agile research process, it’s important that teams adhere to the
following four constructs, all of which are rooted in the principles of the agile manifesto.

  1. Prioritize tasks based on customer focused outcomes
    A functioning bicycle is better than a Ferrari without wheels. Prioritize tasks that
    uncover what customers actually
  2. Set your team up for success with effective alignment
    Communication is a key principle of the agile manifesto. When moving quickly,
    it’s critical that team members are all aligned to current objectives. Teams should use daily standups as a quick way to track progress and keep all members
    moving in the same direction.
  3. Breakdown research blocks into 1-2 weeks sprints
    What is the minimal viable test (MVT) my team can run to provide a meaningful outcome? Determine your core assumptions and create research tasks to quickly provide positive or negative signals.
  4. Leverage software that allows you to efficiently conduct engagements, analyze
    data and report outcomes

    In order to move as quickly as possible, it’s helpful to use software to automate manual actions. Look for repeatable tasks where your team is expending human
    hours and augment these processes with technology.

Apply this to B2B research...

In the B2B space, the user of a company’s product or service is often not the buyer and
companies have to consider multiple stakeholders when building a new product or launching a
new campaign. When we have more than one stakeholder to consider for a project, complexity
grows at n (n-1)/2, where n is the number of significant stakeholders.

If we have 10 critical stakeholders for a B2B project, that’s 10 x (10-1) / 2 = 45 critical
stakeholder interactions
that we have to manage and consider.

Despite this added layer of complexity, hope is not lost. Enter scaled agility - a process that
gives structure to aligning multiple stakeholders to a single process. Using the principles of
scaled agility, research teams can form agile research trains (adopted from agile release trains)
to align researchers to a shared research mission.

These common principles should include:

  • A program increment cadence where teams meet to discuss research results and plan
    their next test.
  • A per team adoption of the four constructs of effective agile research mentioned above
  • Known velocity - the output of each team should be known before each program
  • Synchronization - all teams are aligned to the same program increment and have a
    predictable start/end date.
  • Follow the two pizza team rule - keep research teams small to limit internal
    communication barriers and increase aggregate speed.

Learning more ...

Agile research has been made possible in recent years due to the development and adoption of
technology to augment expensive manual processes like recruitment and reporting. Emporia is
an agile research platform built specifically to support B2B audiences. If you’d like to learn more
about how an agile process can transform your B2B research practice, please reach out to me

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