6 areas to consider when designing a modern research platform

  • Posted on April 4, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

Research driven organizations, such as asset & investment firms, create value through novel insights, ideas, and data-driven hypothesis about how the physical and business world function. For these companies, their research quality, unique insights, and the ease with which they can transform those insights into market-facing products, as well as adjustments to their business strategy, is what allows them to outperform their competitors.

Research driven organizations must make research pipeline optimization, as well as the design of a supporting modern digital platform, a primary strategic objective.

All research companies share this need, but not all research companies meet it equally well. Although there is no single approach, a close look at each of the steps in the research and knowledge-creation process allows us to identify opportunities for competitive differentiation.


We consider the following questions as we explore the end-to-end user journey:

1. Curation. Where do our best ideas come from and how do we improve our ability to sift through, identify, and capture these as quickly as possible?
2. Exploration. What tools do our people need to refine and expand upon an initial idea? How do we help them identify novel connections between different ideas to help spark new insights?
3. Authorship. How do you enable researchers to communicate their ideas, in detail, along with all supporting data, so that downstream researchers can understand the idea, do their own assessment, and quickly activate around its insights?
4. Collaboration. How do you integrate communication and collaboration tools directly into the authoring and research platform so that users do not have to move between multiple tools?
5. Distribution. How do you enable targeted distribution of research so that it is rapidly surfaced for all consumers directly impacted by the new insights?
6. Activation. How do we streamline the process of incorporating insights into new or existing product and services?

Although there is an implied flow in the research user journey the reality is that research is a creative process (rather than a standardized workflow) and that people will organically jump back forth between the steps as they evolve their thinking and collaborate within their research communities.

With this being the case, taking the time to design a user experience that supports this kind of “random walk” creative user journey while simultaneously optimizing each of the sub-steps is extremely important.

In isolation, a single research thread on its own is not itself extraordinary. However, a single idea can spark tens, hundreds or even thousands of additional insights that propagate across the organization, generating yet more insights and refinements to an organization’s products and services.


For this reason, although distribution may seem like one of the easiest areas to address, doing so in a manner that encourages this network effect and sparks new ideas, while being mindful to not overwhelm users, is extremely challenging.

The connection of thousands of these threads through an optimized, digitally enabled, modern research platform allows visionary, research-driven organizations to excel and dominate. 

In my next piece I will take a look at some of the insights that the MIT CISR team has produced with regards to the importance of employee experience and the implications of their research on the design of modern digital platforms.

With their combination of big data, challenging user experience and opportunities for intelligent application of cognitive services, research platforms are among the most interesting and exciting to envision, design and implement.  If you are looking for a partner to co-create your platform strategy and bring it to life with amazing user experience design and exceptional technology, then please contact me.

Have a vision. Make it beautiful. Make it real!

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