November 30, 2023

Norstat CTO: ‘Digital innovation is in our DNA’


As Norstat continues to bring new digital products and solutions to market, CTO Siv Rønstad sheds light on the company’s culture of innovation, the importance of high-quality data, and the need for a holistic approach to product lifecycle management.

The last couple of years have been busier than usual for Norstat CTO Siv Rønstad. During that time, the company has launched a flurry of new digital solutions designed to meet the increased demand for high quality data.

From the intuitive interfaces of Norstat Dashboards to the automated self-service platform of Norstat Live, customers now have a growing portfolio of easy-to-use digital options that provide new ways for them to access, analyse, and present market research data.

“Every digital solution is all about the data,” she says.

“Ultimately, we want to see our clients making more data-driven decisions more often.”

While digital solutions have become an increasingly important part of Norstat’s business, Rønstad emphasizes that digital innovation has long been at the core of Norstat’s way of operating.

“This company was founded on the belief that having a leading technology stack allow us to collect and produce more data, more efficiently than the competition,” she explains.

“So, this emphasis on digital product development is simply another expression of Norstat’s DNA. This is just us continuing to build on what was decided when the company was founded.”

Meeting increased demand for data

She recalls a recent meeting that included a review or Norstat’s founding strategy document from 30 years ago.

“It was amazing how much still resonated today. It’s very much the same idea now as then: to be the best in data collection.”

What’s changed is the increased demand for data, not only from market researchers, but also from analytics teams, design teams, and many other parts of customers’ businesses interested in harnessing the power of data-driven decision making.

“More people are asking for more kinds of high-quality data delivered in new formats and accessible through new interfaces, and we want to be proactive and deliberate about how we meet that increased demand,” Rønstad explains.

To meet that demand, Rønstad and her colleagues have not only worked to strengthen Norstat’s in-house digital product development capabilities but also to create cross-functional work streams that connect strategy, product development, and commercial teams.

“We need to build what the market wants and working closely with Norstat’s local markets and commercial team helps us do that” she explains.

Digital product lifecycle management

Rønstad characterises Norstat’s recent evolution as a more deliberate, proactive approach to product lifecycle management. Providing an array of digital solutions offers customers different options, from off-the-shelf, self-service products to more tailor-made solutions.

“This more holistic, step by step approach to how we manage the product lifecycle ensures that what emerges is ready for market and extremely scalable,” she explains. 

Norstat also incorporates its own data gathering capabilities in the product development process. Whether looking for feedback on different UX design options or deciding between a menu of potential improvements to online functionality, Norstat regularly relies on its own panels and survey tools to help guide product development choices.

“We think it’s important to take our own medicine,” Rønstad says with a laugh.

Customers continue to play an important role in shaping the product lifecycle as well. In-depth interviews give the product development team useful insights into how customers work and allow them to test assumptions about customers’ needs.

“We need to be sure we are going to solve an actual problem and really understand how we fit into their value chain. Then we start prototyping, so we get more precise feedback and make sure our designs are useable and scalable,” she explains.

‘Laser-focused’ on data collection

While Norstat’s digital product development efforts have accelerated in recent years, Rønstad emphasises that the company is all about data collection.  

“There’s really no question about what the goal is, or what we are and what we are not when it comes to product development,” she says.

“We are laser-focused on collecting and delivering data. That is – and has always been – our sweet spot.”

Norstat’s long-standing commitment to its proprietary panels also strengthens the product development process. This “respondent-centric” mindset ensures solutions are designed with the panellists in mind, resulting in solutions that make it easier to generate better insights faster, according to Rønstad.

“Our respondents aren’t a commodity, they are our most prized asset,” she explains.

“We’ve always seen our respondents as living, breathing individuals with feelings and opinions who have made a choice to share them with us. We therefore have an obligation to engage with them and take care of them,” Rønstad explains.

By combining respondent-centric data collection with product development inspired by Norstat’s culture of innovation, Rønstad believes the company is well-equipped to provide customers with the data and solutions they need to navigate an ever-changing world.

“Quality data and a shorter time to market underpin everything we do,” she says.

“As the world moves faster and customers need more flexibility, we hope a broader range of digital interfaces and packaging will continue to ensure our customers to turn data into insights even more efficiently.”