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  • Published on: August 7, 2020
  • Posted by: Brendan Breen
  • 5 min read

Data in Demand

Immediately after the July 4th weekend, ISA launched its annual benchmarking survey. Fast-forward one month and there are more survey responses this year than ever before.

Surveys are not, by any means, new to the industrial supply channel. Just a few minutes of scrolling through LinkedIn or my inbox and I can see that surveys are everywhere these days.

What is causing this? Why so many surveys?

Maybe it’s the uncertainty of life and business right now. Or maybe it’s the changes that have been thrust upon companies stemming from health concerns as well as the evolving end-user preferences. Or maybe it’s just to see how others are feeling and performing during the wreckage known as COVID19.

Whatever the reason, this deluge of surveys has brought about a new commonly heard phrase: Survey Fatigue. This occurs when survey respondents become bored, tired, or uninterested in a survey and engagement suffers as a result. So then why has ISA seen a record number of responses from all membership categories (Distributor, Manufacturer, and IMR)?

We, at ISA, have been preaching the power of decisions informed by data for some time now. For me, the overwhelming interest in this year’s survey is very encouraging for the future of our channel. It tells me that ISA members are looking for certainty in an uncertain world. They are looking for the data points that will tell them how to position their company not just for the upcoming quarter but for the next 5 years. It tells me that we have a strong industry that will not only survive this epidemic but help shape the future after COVID19 is a thing of the past.

So why is our survey getting a good response rate when others are not?

During the planning and design phase of this year’s survey, we took a hard look at the previous versions. We asked if we are including the right questions? Are we sharing the right results and insights? How are the members using the reports? Are they actually using them? This led us to the conclusion that many survey respondents were using the reports as reference guides for when a difficult question comes up. They would then pull the big report binder off the shelf, dust off the cobwebs, answer the question, and put it back on the shelf. While the previous reports were helpful in these specific moments, we felt that they were not helpful enough for what our members would need to remain relevant throughout industry change. So we went to work.

What resulted is the Annual Performance and Strategy Report with surveys for Distributors, Manufacturers, and, for the first time, IMRs. In short, we made it leaner, more future-focused, and with better reports allowing companies to apply the insights in their business as they develop their future strategy. We also didn’t want to be tone-deaf to the realities around us. Rather than asking for only prior year (2019) figures as we had in the past, we included questions related to the first 6 months of 2020 so that companies could better understand the impact of COVID19 – past, present, and future. Additionally, new survey sections on strategy and talent let companies go beyond the financials and performance metrics to learn how the industry is really thinking.

The huge response in the sheer numbers of Distributor, Manufacturer, and IMR companies (btw… nearly 100 IMR companies signed up). speaks for itself. Industry-specific strategic data and analytics are in high demand and the companies that apply what they learn will have the edge over those that don’t. And with this many companies participating, the resulting reports should be the most powerful and robust in ISA history.

The Point

If you are like me and surveys are coming at you all day, don’t get fatigued. Chose the right one that represents your channel and your company. Ignore the rest.

The deadline to submit the survey has passed. If your company would like to participate in the survey, there is still time. Contact Brendan Breen ( to get started. ISA will be accepting surveys up to 8/13. There is no additional fee for participating ISA members. Non ISA Members should reach out if interested as well.     

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