Tim is a world-renowned specialist in the application of technology in the field of market and opinion research and is probably the most widely-published writer in the field. His roots are in data analysis, programming, training and technical writing. These days, as principal at meaning he works with researchers, users of research data and technology providers around the globe, as an independent advisor. He is quite passionate about improving the research process and empowering people through better use of technology.

Benjamin Rietti, MD of E-Tabs (centre right) after receiving the Queen's Award for Innovation from Martin Russell, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of London (right) in the presence of Cllr Lisa Rutter, Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet (centre left) and her consort.

I suspect market research is not often mentioned at Buckingham Palace. So it was pleasing to be summoned to the presence of the Queen’s representative in London, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, to a bit of modest pomp at a business part in North London, on the cleared carpet-tiled floor of  E-Tabs Ltd. We were here to witness a little bit of MR software history being made. This MR software developer  has just won the Queen’s Award for Innovation. It’s an award in one of three categories among the annual Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: essentially honours for firms, and an award not easily come by.

As the DLL said “this year there was a total of 414 applications nationally for the Innovation category, of which only 38 were awarded.” In fact, just three other firms in London received the 2010 Innovation award, making this quite an achievement, as E-Tabs was competing against every imaginable industry sector.

Clearly, more than one thing turned the judges’ heads in E-Tabs. The Sovereign’s representative was not that specific. As with the honours list, we never get to learn what really clinched it, but he mentioned sustained development since the first E-Tabs browser emerged in 1993 (then the ITE Electronic Fiche) and the product’s contribution to ‘significant improvement in business performance and commercial success’ and also the extent to which E-Tabs had probably saved a few forests ‘through the paper you save your clients’. I’d add to that the extent to which these guys get it about what matters in market research at the delivery end.

While others have been building palaces at the data collection end, E-Tabs has focused on finding better ways to create and publish research data, and in an admirably democratic way. They don’t dictate how you collect your data or what platform you use to process it. They are masters of collaboration and rigorously agnostic about data formats. They have gone from one product for reading static reports to a whole family of products to publish reports, churn out PowerPoints or create web portals. Their latest offering – and boy do we need this – software for automatically checking tables and detecting inconsistencies through a number of probability-based deduction methods.

So, hats off to E-Tabs! Congratulations on an award deservedly won. But don’t let it go to your heads, guys,  there’s still room for more inspiration on the results delivery side of our industry, and that innovation needs to continue to flow.

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