We’ve spent the last two days in Amsterdam to hear from both clients and agencies alike about the current status of the research industry as well as where they believe it is headed. With some fantastic case studies, methodologies and exciting visions for the future, we’ve collated some of the themes that we were most happy to hear about. As the presentation content is made live, we’ll link to it so you can learn more.
1 - Tech still needs a human supervisor
New tech is always exciting, but often we can all be guilty of believing it will totally take over. In reality, new tech often compliments human actions, or reduces friction - it is not designed to totally replace humans (yet) So it was great to hear from many tech providers such as Digital Taxonomy & Black Swan Data who see their platforms and approaches as an improvement to human thinking, not a replacement for human intelligence. It seems a careful blend between automation and Human Intelligence is the most effective way forward.
2 - New ways of thinking are not magic bullets
In a similar way to new tech, new ways of thinking and methodologies are rarely a magic bullet on their own. As Ipsos Mori put it, microwaves are great for some things, but you wouldn't use one to cook everything. So, new tech is most effectively used when weaved into an existing setup with the aim of improving that setup. It’s about moving forward sensibly, rather than throw everything out each time and replace with the newest fad.
3 - Speed and cost are key
Consumers are in a constant state of change, and they change at pace. Keeping up with this is key, and so speed has to be central to any potential solution. Because more & projects need to be completed to keep up, then costs need to be at a lower level per project. Unilever told us they’d engaged 1500 startups in 2018 to find the SPEEDxCOST relationship that works best for them.
4 - Don’t assume traditional thinking can’t fit into modern tech
Because humans are still integral to the insight development process, our brains and experience are the secret ingredient that AI is still (yet!) to replicate fully. So for now, whilst we all still have jobs, we must remember that there are proven approaches that worked in “old” research that can still be easily applied to “new” research. Some ideas won't make the transition, but plenty of others will. Experience, agility & creativity must be used to your advantage as the conversation between Unilever & Kantar highlighted.
5 - Internal communication is key to getting insights to take hold
Once insights have been found and reported, it’s what happens to them next that will define the value of the research. There were some great ideas from Coca-Cola on how to achieve this, and this was also backed up by IKEA, Unilever & Danone. More and more data leads to a greater requirement to develop the insights, which in turn leads to a larger challenge to get the organisation to heed the learnings. Improvements in reporting, newsletters, infographics, talking heads - the list goes on - are crucial to create the internal engagement you need to make sure the research value is delivered.
6 - If you want to charge your device, good luck!
OK this didn’t make us happy. If we could give the event team one piece of feedback, it would be to introduce some charging points around the exhibition hall. It was a common site to see people sitting on the floor by the water coolers in order to find some power. Let’s hope to see this introduced for next year!
So, in conclusion, keep blending tech into your human teams, keep an open mind about potential solutions, engage those who live and breathe flexibility and agility, and remember the aim should always be to put the consumer at the heart of your brand (we mentioned this in our talk!)