Market research and analysis for the leading provider of digital solutions and advice for UK education and research

The Context
Our client, JISC, is the UK higher, further education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions. JISC champions the importance and potential of digital technologies for UK education and research and does three main things:
1. It supports and operates shared digital infrastructure and services
2. It negotiates sector-wide deals with IT vendors and commercial publishers
3. It provides trusted advice and practical assistance for universities, colleges and learning providers

The Client Aims

JISC had been fund supporting a free university-based research tool - the Call for Participants (CFP) service - which enabled researchers to find participants for specific research projects and surveys. JISC commissioned Mirabilis’ partner organisation IRN Research and Mirabilis to jointly gather evidence to understand how CFP services could be developed and how the service could be shaped to create a sustainable business having been incubated as a result of JISC funding.

The Service Engaged

IRN and Mirabilis were engaged to provide research into the market, a competitor analysis and a report and presentation on the options, and potential, for the service to operate independently as a commercial offer to HE once JISC funding was withdrawn.

Our research partner IRN Research was established in 1991 and it is a full-service research agency which undertook the market research for this work. Mirabilis’ lead, Natalie Warren-Green, was responsible for competitive analysis and providing commercial modelling options and recommendations for when JISC funding was no longer available. IRN’s lead and Natalie jointly presented findings and recommendations to JISC.

Market Research, Analysis and Reporting

Market Research, Analysis and Reporting forms part of the journey within the other service groups offered by Mirabilis Management since research is an integral part of any change, strategy, or business development journey, whether it supports brand development or is done to improve tech and operations, strategy, marketing, or sales. We include research in everything we do to support our offer. In addition, for some clients, our research services are commissioned to produce market reports for their own commercial purposes and sometimes for onward sale as a market research report for a specific industry. Our services include:

  • Research Design
  • Sampling and Sample Design
  • Surveys and Survey Design
  • Observational Research and Secondary Data
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Report writing
  • Data dashboard development and reporting
  • Presenting findings and recommendations

For this project, the research methodology covered three key phases:

  • Discussions and key informant interviews with Jisc, stakeholders, potential clients and competitors to assess the current position and knowledge
  • Desk research to review the market, key trends and characteristics
  • Primary research based on quantitative online surveys, qualitative telephone interviews and some physical site visits for meetings with CFP users, participants, potential users, Research Councils, and selected competitors.

The findings were analysed, and draft reports and presentations  submitted to and discussed with JISC leaders as the future options were developed.

The assignment was successfully completed with the following deliverables:

  • A detailed final report providing an evaluation of the current market for research recruitment services, an assessment of general market opportunities, specific areas of opportunity for CFP, and routes to revenue generation and a clear ROI.
  • Anonymised transcripts of all interviews with a summary of key themes.
  • Anonymised datasets of all online survey results.
  • Half-day deep-dive client presentation from the research team, with detailed question sessions from the client.


The research identified clear market potential for the service and the analysis offered options for business models and monetisation models with preferred options recommended based on predicted revenue streams, likely timescales for revenue generation, critical success factors, and likely ROI.

Specific opportunities for CFP to build revenue streams were highlighted through a combination of direct sales, partnerships and online advertising once the participant base has critical mass. The client used the research results and conclusions to make a strategic decision on the future development of the service.