research innovations
July 4, 2017

Research innovations, embracing new technology and methods

By Paul Laughlin

As our focus returns to Customer Research, here is a quick review of research innovations on show across the world.

Previous posts have highlighted that although Data Science might get all the press for innovation, in fact, many technological & methodological innovations are happening in the world of market & consumer research.

Recent months have focussed on technological innovations (like blockchain), data science & data visualisation. As well as balancing our content with leadership focussed advice, I also want to ensure we stay true to our definition of Holistic Customer Insight (including research, as well as data & analytics).

So, let’s see what I found as I searched my favourite customer research blogs to check for innovations.

Fresh thinking from IIEX North America

Greenbook is one of my favourite sites for keeping up-to-date with research innovations in the USA. At present their site is dominated by content from the Insight & Innovation Exchange North America (IIEX NA), recently held in Atlanta.

One useful post highlights the best debriefs of the event available across the wider web. Here are two debriefs that I thought worth sharing.

In the first, Daniel Evans from Zappistore reviews the emerging technologies on show at IIEX, especially those being used already. As he notes, key themes of the event were both automation of research & virtual reality. It was interesting to hear that the insight innovation competition winners (MindProber) were combining automation with learning from neuroscience and biometric sensors. Definitely, one to investigate further.

With regards to virtual reality, which has been slowly growing in insight usage, it sounds like the innovation showcase was well worth seeing (especially for shopper insights).

IIeX North America: a future lens | Opinion

Last week I was in Atlanta to attend the annual North American IIeX. For those that don’t know, it’s a key event in the global market research calendar to shine a light on the intersection of market research and technology.

Shifting our attention more towards methodological innovation, in an article for QualBlog, Jim Bryson shares on the growing use of ‘agile research‘.

By this term, it is clear Jim means good enough findings delivered faster to businesses. More in tandem with the expected speed of data provision, using mobile & other digital designs to enable rapid testing & initial insights (prior to any deeper investigations).

There are certainly risks here and too many marketers can stress the speed of getting answers without understanding the quality compromise. But, with today’s research methods more is becoming possible and Jim makes some good points about how research can ‘regain its seat at the table‘.

QualBlog | Market Research Blog | 2020 Research

It’s been one year since 20|20 first developed our model for identifying and capitalizing on disruptive trends. We call it the 5 Ripples of Disruption. Ripples are small, incremental adjustments that every brand, regardless of product, service or industry, can build upon for growth.

If you embrace research automation, design it right

Returning to the theme that Daniel mentioned, of automating research, another interesting article is this one from Roddy Knowles on Quirk’s blog. His take on research innovations focuses on methodology.

In this post, Roddy acknowledges the concerns of some about automation (similar to those I expressed about Jim’s article). In my opinion, he does a good job of striking a balance between those concerns and the opportunities seen by innovators. I’d also recommend his suggested 3 step approach to anyone planning to implement research automation.

A report & events to help you stay up-to-date on research innovations

Apart from big events like IIEX and following the most useful research blogs, how can a research leader stay abreast of such developments in their profession? I’d like to suggest two helpful sources:

  1. Greenbook’s quarterly GRIT report (tracking utilisation of research technologies), as the UK tends to follow the US, this is a great early view.
  2. MRS events – As a UK insight writer, I would be remiss not to mention the resources & events available from Market Research Society

To give you an idea of the quality of thinking that can come out of tracking the GRIT report. Here is a short post, from Reg Baker, in which he considers the most important skills for research teams in the future. Based on findings from latest GRIT report, he was asked the most important skills to teach in post-graduate market research programs. I was very pleased to see his emphasis on collaborating with analytics, softer skills and presentation of data.

GRIT Commentary: Educating the Researcher of the Future

At IIEX NA, Reg Baker, the MRII’s executive director, discussed the most recent GRIT survey, which asked the question “What do you believe will be the three most important skillsets for a successful post-graduate Market Research program to focus on during the next five years?” What surprised Reg is that the hard skills of survey…

Closer to home, for ease of reference, here is the home page of the MRS. I would recommend checking out both their events and training available. That organise an interesting range of events across the year (if a little London-centric) and their training is still significantly more cost-effective than other commercial providers.

How could that help inspire research innovation in your business?

I hope that is helpful and builds on my previous posts on this topic:

It would be great to hear more about how you are innovating within your business. Please share any tips or ideas our comment boxes below.

Meanwhile, enjoy your week and I’ll be bringing you more on customer research in the weeks ahead.