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Alation understands the value of data. They also understand how easy it has become for companies to get bogged down by too much information and confusing datasets. To prevent this, they’ve built a solution that automatically indexes data so that it’s easily searchable, offers tools for cataloging and curating information, makes smart recommendations using machine learning, and much more. The result lets companies increase productivity and make more informed decisions by taking full advantage of their data.

With a growing roster of clients, Alation wanted to gain a better understanding of how their product was being used. This was especially important as an enterprise product companies depend on — meaning high quality is vital. With no firmly established research process in place, Alation began using Respondent to quickly source and recruit participants who could give them the insights they needed.

Gaining quality insights with flexibility

Before using Respondent, Alation had not yet built up a fully integrated research process. Instead, they would gather information about their product by manually contacting their own users, setting up interviews, and asking them about their experiences. Although this process served them well as a new company, it proved far too slow and inefficient as they grew. Research projects would often take as long as two months to complete and sometimes would not even get done.

Shortly after switching to Respondent, however, the benefits were evident. “Using Respondent, we have been able to cut our research time down from months to days,” said Colin Poindexter, Global Strategic Design Lead at Alation. “Not only that, but the quality of our research has also gone up.”

Alation also appreciated Respondent’s flexibility. For instance, the ability to pay only for the users they selected, rather than having to sign the large long-term contracts common with many sourcing services, was particularly valuable to them. Respondent also allowed Alation to continue using the testing tools they’d already built, as well as provided them with a bundled list of additional tools — such as direct user payments, scheduling services, and instant messaging — that simplified their research process. All this made it faster and easier to get the feedback they needed.

Using research to become more responsive

Two years after implementing Respondent, Alation has transformed their research into a fully integrated process, making it easier for them to improve their product and create value for the company. For example, with quick and cost-effective access to high-quality participants, Alation has been able to respond more effectively to user feedback. This has allowed them to not only make more informed design decisions, but has also helped teams across the company gain a better understanding of their customer.

Respondent has been a Godsend for us. As an enterprise tool, the cycles are long and you can’t A/B test rapidly. You often can’t do things as quick as a consumer company. Respondent has completely changed that for us. It has enabled us to act with the same nimbleness as consumer companies, but in a cost-effective and scalable way.

— Colin Poindexter, Global Strategic Design Lead at Alation

Alation now considers Respondent to be a “mission-critical level” tool. Whenever they ship a new product or update, they rely on it to find participants for their research. This has lowered the barrier of entry to research and made everyone a part of the research process, leading to an increase in their overall customer satisfaction rating. “It’s been awesome,” said Poindexter. “Simply put, we’re building better products than we were before.”

Keep up to date with the Alation design team by following them on Twitter: @AlationDesign.

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