In order to ensure BT - the largest telecommunications supplier in the UK - obtains maximum value from its investment in market research, its Personal Communications (PC) Division has put in place an initiative - the creation of a market research database - aimed at delivering three key benefits. First, the database - containing all the ad hoc research reports conducted since the PC Division was set up in 1991 - opens up access to existing ad hoc market research in a way that allows people to easily check information, thereby enhancing the quality of day-to-day tactical, decision making. Second and, for BT, a more important objective than the act of setting up a database - there is the drawing together of evidence from a range of different sources to facilitate meta analysis: the identification of overarching themes and trends that inform the development of appropriate marketing strategies. Third, there is the pay off from having in existence a user friendly database - the structure and details of which we will be discussing later - that allows BT to obtain a clear picture of where it has a sound understanding of particular topics and market segments, and where there are gaps in the company's market research evidence that may need plugging with subsequent research. We open the paper by providing a brief review of BT's operation and pinpointing particular aspects of the company's approach to marketing and market research that needed to be taken into account in the development of the PC market research database. We then look at the way in which the database has been constructed, specifically looking at the role it plays in: aiding day-to-day tactical decision making; identifying longer term overarching marketing trends; and pinpointing gaps in BT's information base. At the end of the paper we list a number of general principles that should be helpful to other organisations seeking to ensure that: there is easy access to market research reports; research resources are being focused on knowledge gaps (rather than duplicating earlier effort), and that each project works above and beyond its contribution to solving a particular problem, through a more strategic appraisal of the research findings.
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