Trust and speaking up: Collaboration that lasts for five years 

Editor's note: Microsoft and Vital Findings are the winners of the 2023 Client/Supplier Collaboration award which is a category in the Marketing Research and Insight Excellence Awards. The winners of the awards were announced during a virtual celebration on November 14. To learn more about the awards go to

Since 2018 Microsoft and Vital Findings have collaborated on a tracker that gathers feedback from a high-level and niche audience of Chief Information Security Officers and others in the C-Suite. During these five years, Microsoft’s Research + Insights team and Vital Findings have worked together to evolve the tracker from a brief survey supporting one team to a complex, multi-topic program that supports four teams. This research also serves as a “north star” for the Microsoft Security organization which has grown to approximately $20B in revenue throughout this period. 

Brian Thompson of Vital Findings and Kyra Velasco of Microsoft took time to answer some questions about how their collaboration has lasted for five years.

How do you uphold each company’s mission while collaborating?   

Vital Findings mission is “to develop integral and impassioned consulting partnerships; immersing deeply and delivering insights and storytelling that are a force for change.” 

This collaboration is a living embodiment of the Vital Findings mission. The subject being researched is complex, so the team has immersed and become subject matter experts and continue to listen intently and learn as the category quickly evolves. This lays the foundation for Vital Findings to deliver insights and consultation that can help drive the business forward. 

Microsoft’s mission is “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” This, too, bears out in the collaboration. Microsoft’s collaboration is an empowerment of the Vital Findings team and, together, we’re providing a better research program and better insights than if either had done it alone.  

This partnership between Microsoft and Vital Findings is a perfect example of how two companies can come together to achieve a common goal. By combining the strengths of both companies, we have been able to create a research program that is greater than the sum of its parts.  

What skill sets do you find most valuable in a client/supplier collaboration? 

Subject matter expertise, a “speak-up” culture and trust. It’s the combination of these three that makes our partnership work. Lose one and the collaborative partnership can hit speed bumps.  

A speak-up culture is essential for any successful collaboration, and this is especially true for the partnership between Microsoft and Vital Findings. Within Microsoft’s Research and Insights team and at Vital Findings, there is a strong emphasis on creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This culture of openness and psychological safety encourages team members to speak up and contribute to the success of the partnership. 

Trust is also a key component of this collaboration. Vital Findings trusts that Microsoft will share the information needed to ensure the research delivers what the organization needs. And Microsoft trusts that Vital Findings will understand their business and be effective in designing the research to address their needs. This mutual trust is built on a foundation of transparency and open communication, which is essential for fostering a strong and successful partnership. 

How has collaboration impacted each company?  

Collaboration has had a significant impact on both Microsoft and Vital Findings. The result of our collaboration is incredibly strong research that’s making a difference. Insights from the tracker are being used to guide decision-making and to grow Microsoft’s Security Organization. That’s incredibly rewarding. 

And, beneath that, there are other positive impacts from working collaboratively. The collaborative process creates super-engaged teams that are invested in and excited about the research. With Microsoft, Vital Findings is not just a supplier but a partner. True to the “speak-up” culture, voices are heard and respected, and that impassions everyone to prepare hard work and bring their best thinking to the table. 

The collaboration has allowed us to leverage the expertise of both teams, resulting in insights that are not only relevant and applicable but also have the power to drive change. This is a true testament to the power of collaboration and the impact it can have on achieving their respective missions.