Perspectives Episode 03 – What are the core benefits and risks of being an early adopter of tech in research?

What are the core benefits and risks of being an early adopter of tech in research?

Welcome to Episode 03 of Perspectives!

People are saying that the Market Research is slow to adopt innovations and technology. Others feel that classic research is being left behind. For those looking ahead who want to be ahead of the curve, what are the risks of adopting new technologies and are they outweighed by the benefits?

Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation. – Dean Kamen

In the third Perspectives episode, we bring together people in the insights industry to ask ‘What do you feel are the core benefits and risks of being an early adopter of new tech in market research?’.

Written Commentary

Annie Pettit – Market Research Methodologist,, read more on her blog.

No. 100% no.

My absolute defiance to this question stems from one very important definition: what is market research? For me, market research is any scientific process (whether qualitative and quantitative!) that helps us to better understand consumers and markets. As you see, that definition says nothing about surveys or focus groups or big data or artificial intelligence. Methods and technology play no part. Companies marketing themselves in the market research business play no part. That definition doesn’t say System 1 Research, Affectiva, or Ipsos. It also doesn’t say Google, Facebook, or Tesla.

With that in mind, the market research industry is full steam ahead. We are awash with companies at the forefront of artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, virtual/augmented/modified/extreme reality. If you can name a way awesome technology, I can guarantee you that someone is using it for market research purposes. Of course, the company might have been formed three months ago in someone’s basement or maybe even two years ago. And, even though they’re doing it, the company might not even know what “market research” or “consumer research” is.

What our industry is REALLY good at is claiming that other industries are trying to barge into our territory. We’re REALLY resistant to acknowledging that market research companies exist outside of those claiming a spot on market research supplier lists. That there are many other companies doing what we thought we could claim as MINE MINE MINE.

So on that note, if you’re looking forward to a career in market research, don’t necessarily seek out a company that markets themselves as market researchers. Seek out companies that work to understand consumers and markets, whatever the name or size of the company and whatever industry or methodology they use. There are a ton of really cool companies out there doing some amazing things even though they’ve never heard of ESOMAR, MRIA, Insights Association, ARF, AMSRS, or MRS before. Once you’re there, feel free to introduce us to them. We’re lovely people!

Excerpts from the vlog

At the time, our biggest competitor, NRG, came out and sent a letter to all of our prospective clients saying online was not going to happen, it was not the way to go, and that the movie studios should stick with traditional data collection methods in the mall. We all know how that turned out. – Kristin Luck @kristinluck

What’s taken forward my business is when we’ve adopted an innovation that’s actually aligned to how people live their lives today and I think mobile and video is a perfect example of that. – Andy Buckley @andybuckers

We were using mobile phone to capture people’s experiences in real time, what we found was that everybody wanted to see us. It sounded very exciting so we were easily able to get capabilities meetings, but having a meeting doesn’t mean that you get the sale. And of course, it’s really important that clients have trusted relationships. That’s something that I think needs to really be considered if you’ve got a new piece of tech and you need to be a line item on the budget, so that clients already have somewhere that they can put you. – Fiona Blades @FionaMESH

One of the biggest challenges with going online with a traditionally offline technology is it changes, fundamentally. So going from in-home ethnography with a video camera, where you’re able to capture naturalistic observations, suddenly having people film themselves, it changes. It’s not the same thing anymore, and I think one of the biggest mistakes the people make is they try to sell these new approaches as being as good as the approaches, they are not. They are just different and brilliant, in their own way. – Siamack Salari @SiamackSalari

Tech is inevitable and communicating with people online is also inevitable. Mobile, I think is sort of a different beast, because while it’s mainstream in the way people communicate with each other, as far as data collection, we’re still struggling to modify surveys and things like that to fit mobile well and easily, we haven’t mastered that yet. I think the use of video is massively important to this though. – Kerry Hecht Labsuirs @Kerryhecht

The first thing is the difficulty of organisations to actually absorb this technology. So you have the term loss aversion, which comes from behavioural economics, which states we value losses double equivalent gains. Our fear of losing is greater than our fear of winning. So this manifests itself within an organisation, the fear of introducing a new technology can make decision makers inert, what are the kind of losses that might come as a result of this? This is magnified if the technology is as yet unproven. There’s also the fact that the MR industry isn’t just, the research team isn’t the only team invested in the current way of doing things. – Oliver Conner @oliconner

Market research as an industry is very slow. And there’s always a lot of trepidation when new tech comes in. With the stuff that we do at Decoded the ‘now’ is acceptability with our clients and potential clients, but it’s taken I would say 7 or 8 years before it’s become mainstream to film interviews and then analyse those facial expressions from interviews. Online focus groups are now something that are really popular. But that’s taken a long time to become the norm. – Adrianne Carter @adrubena

In terms of risk, it is the service providers that really take the big risks in this industry, and having said that, agencies nowadays can be actually really a lot more strategic and benefit from stealth in putting new methodologies into their proposals. – Johnny Caldwell

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