BLOG: Why are you asking me that? (or: how we wrote the Brighton Fuse company survey)

Piles of surveys, not a single Brighton Fuse survey

After much blood, sweat, tears and biscuits, the Brighton Fuse survey went live just over a week ago. We’ve been delighted by the tide of results rushing in – if you have been invited to participate, please do fill your survey in as every response counts! Freelancers, we haven’t forgotten about you – we’re currently working on a second survey specifically tailed to your own work which will be going live in the autumn.

Surveys are tricky beasts to develop. On the one hand, as researchers we’re interested in pretty much every aspect of your company’s operations, so we’re tempted to pack the survey with a thousand questions exploring every last detail of your work (we can also use those questions as controls in our analyses, but we’ll explain this later). On the other hand, time is a precious commodity and there’s likely only a tiny percentage of the population who would be happy to spend a week locked in a room filling out the monster survey of our dreams (although if that applies to any of you, call us? We have some questions we’d been interested in asking you…). So a good survey is one which walks the line between having enough good questions in to provide us with enough data for a rich and interesting analysis, but short enough for people to fill in without getting bored or annoyed halfway through and leaving.

To do this, every question on the Brighton Fuse companies survey has been checked and tested several times over to ask: Is this the right way to ask this question? Is this question essential, or can we find a proxy for it elsewhere? Can we or should we shorten the number of potential answers? This has been a long and rigorous process with the end result that each of the survey’s questions have been carefully and lovingly crafted and are there for good reason. Here, we present five of them to you along with justification for why we’re interested in their answers.

What are your sources of revenue? This question tells us about the business model that your company uses – for example, whether licensing is more important than service provision. Because of the scale of the survey, it also allows us to examine whether companies in the same sector use similar business models, or whether there are other influential factors such as location or type of client.

Which technology areas and markets have you worked with in the past, and are you currently working with? This is probably quite straightforward and lets us know the extent to which Brighton digital companies are multiplatform – designing for smartphones, tablets, and PCs – or not. By asking about your previous and current work, we can also explore whether there are general trends in the Brighton cluster about which platforms are popular and adopted, and which are abandoned and unloved.

Where are your collaborators located?Not every company is capable or would want to do everything in-house and many find it beneficial to work with ‘outside’ people and organizations as a way of augmenting their own skillsets. So: to what extent does this happen within the Brighton digital cluster? Are companies here spoiled for choice when it comes to finding good local freelancers, or are some skills harder to find locally than others?

What percentage of your staff have science or arts degrees? This question relates to the ‘Fuse’ hypothesis at the heart of our project: what are the complementarities between technical and artistic talent, and how do they affect a company’s performance? Do Brighton digital firms derive creative skills from the arts and humanities graduates that they employ, or through other means? And what happens when you get a company which employs graduates with a broad array of backgrounds, from Computer Science to Art History, to work together…?

What is your main source of competitive advantage? Again, this question goes to the heart of the ‘Fuse’ research to look at how technical and creative capabilities come together. We will use your responses to explore companies and sectors with a mix of digital and creative strengths grow faster than those who don’t.

Do give us a yell if you’d like any more information, and we’ll be presenting the background to some more questions next week…

2 thoughts on “BLOG: Why are you asking me that? (or: how we wrote the Brighton Fuse company survey)

  1. Pingback: A quick tour to completing the Brighton Fuse Survey | Brighton Fuse