Ever wonder how Dalia gathers all these juicy insights from around the world? Well, today we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about how we develop our information products. Joining the discussion are Niklas and Fred, two members of Dalia’s Insights Lab, an interdisciplinary team within the company that works to develop information products using insights collected through our survey platform.


Thanks for taking the time to speak about Dalia’s Insights Lab, Fred and Niklas. To get started:  how would you describe what Dalia’s Insights Lab does in one sentence?

Fred: The Insights Lab is an “ideas” incubator within Dalia Research.

Niklas: The Insights Lab builds business models for new information products.


*What’s an information product, you ask? An information product is simply some form of data or knowledge that is packaged in an accessible format, like a written report, database, graph, etc. Some information products might be a single document, while others could be a stream of information in which data is updated and released periodically. In Dalia’s case, the insights derive from the surveys we run all over the world. Currently, Dalia is focused more on long-term, recurring survey data collection, although we also do some one-off projects. Let’s get some more context:


Can you describe some of the information products the team has developed?

Niklas: About half a year ago, we started working with a client to estimate the size of the black market for certain consumer goods in Malaysia. To do that, we distribute thousands of micro surveys among specific consumer groups to track, for example, price movements of these goods, the perception of brand value, or to understand the impact government policies have on the sale of illicit products. It’s in many ways a new approach and we’re currently exploring a range of applications around the world using this methodology.

Fred: As ride-hailing apps such as Uber, Cabify, and Didi battle for world domination, we’re tracking their usage, reputation and growth over time in major cities from Latin America, the Middle East, Europe to Asia. We also do this for food delivery companies, online dating apps, and other emerging technologies such as electric cars. These insights are available on a continuous basis for companies who want to see how their products are spreading around the world.

At the same time, we’ve also started to develop new measures to better understand global political risk. For example, for several months we’ve been tracking Venezuelans’ attitudes towards the government and opposition parties as an early warning system to detect regime stability. Inspired by numerous requests from NGOs, we recently also leveraged our platform to shed more light on the needs for aid, construction materials, blood donations etc. in different regions of Mexico in the wake of the horrific earthquake there.


Can you elaborate on what a typical project cycle in the Insights Lab might look like?

Niklas: At the beginning of a project cycle, one approach we can use is to consider our clients’ research requests, and when feasible, turn them into more scalable solutions that are relevant for many clients, and not just one. For example, this might be taking a tech mobility project from MIT and making it valuable and relevant for all major car companies.

Getting a product up and running can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the urgency, success of the product idea, and ease of execution. Much of the product cycle also involves coordination with other departments at Dalia. For example, the Project Management team conducts feasibility analyses to verify the price, time constraints and demographics for the surveys. And when the survey questionnaire is finalized, the Project Management team also handles scripting and language translation. After a survey is deployed, the Data Science team makes sure all algorithms are functioning properly. These algorithms, including key demographics, psychographics, behavioural attributes and more, are used to weight and analyze the data. After this step, the Insights Lab can begin digging into its analysis of the findings.

Fred: When we’re incubating our own original ideas, (for example, a “political risk” indicator that measures social unrest in developing countries), we first think about for whom this information could be valuable. Then we consider how to measure it: which survey design and which questions can most accurately capture the information that we need. After designing the survey, we launch a test and the fun begins with the analysis. A big part of our job is to make the data meaningful, so we experiment with lots of visualizations and graphs to present the data in an engaging way. Finally, if the idea attracts interest from a client, we turn it into a full-fledged product.

Niklas, can you describe a typical day in the Insights Lab?

Niklas: On a typical day, we’re monitoring ongoing projects, developing hypotheses for testing components of a business model, checking out results from our research, coordinating a lot with the Data Science, Product and Project Management teams. There’s also a lot of back and forth emails with clients, and phone calls (customer interviews or sales at more advanced stage).


What are your goals for the Insights Lab?

Fred: Dalia’s technology gives us a tremendous resource: we have access to a real-time stream of opinions from millions of people connected to the internet around the world. So our goal in the Insights Lab is to tap into this resource and convert the flow of opinions into valuable information for clients.

Niklas: We want to establish the Insights Lab within the DNA of Dalia Research as a highly efficient engine for developing new and profitable business lines.


What has been the Lab’s greatest challenge?

Niklas: When you have an engine that can reveal the thoughts, plans and preferences of millions of people across more than 100 countries around the world, the possibilities for generating insights are endless. This is both super exciting but can also be daunting: where do you start and how do you get from A to B? Our biggest challenge is definitely to find the right balance of working on exciting but also commercially viable solutions. This is often more difficult than it sounds and requires pragmatic thinking in order to differentiate between what is interesting vs. what is valuable, what is a quick solution vs. a pipedream, and so on.

Fred: Yes, sometimes the wide range of possibilities is a bit overwhelming, but it’s guaranteed that there is no shortage of ideas circulating around.


Great, thanks for these insights. What are your next steps?

Fred: We’re now at a stage where we need to add more resources to the insights lab, and this means primarily people. We’re looking for all kinds of people, from researchers to marketing experts, data journalists, designers and many more. First and foremost, however, we’re looking to add true entrepreneurs to our team, so people who are familiar with “lean startup” approaches, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, who are excited about building something new from scratch and who enjoy reaping the rewards of success.

Niklas: We’re looking for highly ambitious individuals who are passionate about creating new information products, have an entrepreneurial mindset, and are fun to work with. It’s important that our new additions to the team have a strong sense of ownership and can inspire others to co-create. We are not like an established company that’s super-specialised; instead we have flat hierarchies with lots of hands-on work at any position.

And hey, we’re building boats, doing escape room challenges and lot’s of other fun stuff – it’s wonderful to work with people who can get excited about such things, also share knowledge about their passion projects (e.g. one colleague is organising events for Women Who Go), and expose us to new experiences outside of work.


Do you embody the entrepreneurial spirit? You might be the perfect new addition to the Insights Lab. We’d love to chat with you about the opportunity over coffee sometime, so don’t hesitate to apply! Check out this position here!