Staying Ahead of the Curve on Emerging MR Innovations

Innovation in the market research space is an ongoing and ever-changing process. New thoughts, concepts, technologies, and ways to leverage technology become available frequently, but the challenge is to not only be aware of innovation but adopt it. An important first step is to understand the barriers of innovation adoption so those barriers can be removed.

Large agencies may fall into siloed environments where information may not be readily shared with other departments or divisions, and this can slow the progress or acceptance of new technologies. Smaller agencies don't see as much separation of tasks and information, but they often function with an "all hands on deck" approach for each project. Because everyone is busy all the time, the implementation of innovation can be a struggle while maintaining consistent performance.

People also like to stick with what they know. Insights teams within brands have methodologies familiar to them, and shifting focus or processes can be daunting. On the other side, some MR professionals would argue "we've always done it this way" is one of the worst phrases in the research industry and needs to be removed from the lexicon. Market research tools change, and an unwillingness to embrace those innovations will leave you behind the curve.


Innovation in the MR Space

When considering what innovation looks like in the market research space, most everything circles back to leveraging new technology in a more effective and powerful manner than was capable or an option in the past. Today your client, whether internal or external, wants answers and they want them quickly, but they also want them to be robust and helpful.

Technology changes at a rapid pace, and as such the human mind may struggle to understand beyond the conceptual, but it is an innate human ability to be able to take the results of innovation and apply them, modify them, disseminate them, and ultimately monetize them.

The California Business Journal spoke with David Wolfe, founder and CEO of Inguo, about emerging technologies in the market research space, and specifically technologies developed by NEC X which he has been able to bring to market. The introduction of new innovations can be met with hesitation, but Wolfe understood what he was up against.

"It was a challenge because data analytics is a huge industry and there are a lot of technologies out there that are good technologies, but this one takes it further."


Why We Need Innovation in Marketing Research

In order to understand the goal, it's important to understand the motivation behind innovation in the MR space. The goals of market research typically remain consistent, but innovation allows those goals to be reached faster and with more accuracy. There is clarity in understanding the voice of the consumer and understanding changing consumer behavior, and in turn, to understand what drives customer loyalty. Innovation provides the ability to explore new markets and opportunities and to more accurately predict or create models of business outcomes.

We broke down three tips for staying ahead of the curve:

20210520-ing-staying-ahead-of-the-curve-on-emerging-mr-innovations-icons-camaraderie1. Build Camaraderie in the Industry

Try not to work in a vacuum. It's important to connect with and communicate with other people in the industry. Networking is absolutely key; don't forego what can be learned from others. Attend conferences, both in person (when safety allows) and teleconferences. Industry podcasts are a great source of varied insights and approaches; for example, the CEO Sales Insights Podcast with David Masover. Participate and investigate the WIRe Mentorship or Accelerated Program. Recognize that innovation can come from new sources, such as the algorithms developed by an all-female team at Inguo which in and of itself is unique (given how male -dominated the analytics field is).

20210520-ing-staying-ahead-of-the-curve-on-emerging-mr-innovations-icons-innovative-mindset2. Develop an Innovative Mindset

Rather than take the same approach to your regularly scheduled meetings, look for opportunities to reframe your mindset by encouraging participants to not only show up, but bring fresh ideas and approaches. While planning these meetings, consider who you have at the table. New faces can bring new ideas.

Innovation requires change and new ideas. Don't be afraid to look past the research you've always done with the people you've always used. When a MR start-up reaches out for a meeting, take it. Listen to their ideas and approaches. They may bring the solution for your next project.

Stay informed about the leaders in the insight industry. The GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Report is an excellent source of industry trends and leaders, along with industry analysis you need to help your business succeed.

20210520-ing-staying-ahead-of-the-curve-on-emerging-mr-innovations-icons-innovative-workplace3. Encourage Innovation in Your Workplace

Encourage "greenlight thinking" at your meetings allowing for uncensored brainstorming. Because people are sometimes hesitant to be the first to speak up, create and distribute an order of speakers to get things started. More voices mean more ideas, and creating a structure that allows those who wouldn't normally kick off be prepared to do so can shift the course of a conversation.

Allow attendees to prepare for interaction by creating a slack channel specifically for the sharing of ideas or articles, and create a list of buzzwords or industry topics your group would be interested in learning about.

Seek ways to be more agile, which in the MR space means being able to identify linkages between data sets (causal is great for this) and storytell faster than you have in the past. This requires a desire for innovation. Be sure the group understands the difference between simple insights and actionable insights. It's important to know what can be implemented immediately to produce results versus just providing consumer "facts" without actionability.

The human equation has its place in market research, but with human evaluation comes human bias which is where the benefit of A.I.-powered tools comes in handy. It doesn't remove the human equation, but it breaks through the noise and can detect patterns that will do the most good. Quantitative data analytics can be cumbersome, but innovations in technology are quickly streamlining the process. When dealing with "big data," having a proven and agile approach to mining those research nuggets is necessary. 


To stay ahead of the curve you sometimes need to create the curve so everyone else can follow.

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