Many businesses today still fail to understand the importance of research and how it can help them to stay ahead of the game.
There is also a common misunderstanding when it comes to defining what research actually means. Many people think that research – in a business sense – is a technical or science related thing and that it really only applies to companies that are involved with technical innovation.
But this is not true.
There are very few businesses that would not benefit from market research for example.
Market research can be expensive and can be a necessary ongoing cost to a business but it can also have a major impact on the success of the business by ensuring the continuing relevancy of its products or services.
Obviously if a business is designing or making something then research can take on a whole new level of importance and technical research is probably a real necessity in order to ensure the product continues to be relevant.
However, product or technical research can’t (or shouldn’t) exist in isolation. It needs to go hand in hand with market research and it is the combination of both that creates enough data for a business to move from research into development.
Even then, the most successful businesses build in elements of flexibility - if they can - in order to safeguard themselves against making a design mistake that could lead to a loss of relevancy with their target customer base, or even being out-maneuvered by their competitors.
So the message is that research comes in several forms and transcends different departments. It is also an on-going process and should carry on when a product moves into its development stage and beyond.
There is also a strong body of opinion that believes research should continue even after a product is in full production - how else can a business ensure that its product is still relevant and functionally competitive?
Many management text books will tell you that “every business needs to constantly innovate” in order to succeed.
Innovation relies on research and research begins with the customer.
British businesses can also gain from conducting ongoing technical research (and development) because the UK government provides tax advantages for such work.
Research and development tax credits (R and D Tax Credits) can provide businesses with a way to offset some of the costs involved in remaining innovative. Such businesses are able to reclaim a portion of these costs from the government either in the form of a credit that reduces taxable profits, or even a cash refund if the business is loss making. But in claiming this benefit it's important to distinguish between market research and development and technical research and development, as only the latter are relevant to claiming R&D tax credits.
So every business that can innovate, should innovate.
Even the UK government is keen to support businesses that invest in developing new products, processes or services; so if research and development is important to the government, it really should be important to you and your business.
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