Predictions. It’s that time of year, and as neither Google or AI have as yet taken over this popular predictive task, here’s my take on what 2019 might bring for the world of research and analytics*.
– The trend to data democratization and DIY will continue, data landing directly on decision-makers’ lap-top dashboards.
– Training non-specialists on the basics of MR excellence and social science will remain a growth field.
Awareness that such training should also include those in digital journalism will build, slowly but surely; the perceived value of survey data is high amongst journalists, but the time, inclination and arguably ability for interpreting, eye-balling and querying data is scarce.
– The main MR operational challenge will be making sense of increasing amounts of different types of data, reconciling sources, linking up to business agendas – without increased budgets or time-frames.
Doing this will remain the domain of real human beings, however much AI or automation are used to cut out low-value tasks.
– The main strategic challenge is ensuring recognition for our discipline: as the MR gatekeeper function becomes a distant memory, making sure we have the right relationships across the organization, being involved early on, fully informed is of paramount importance.
Keeping the focus on “simple” and “impactful” will be useful.
– Despite various headwinds, the pressure on companies to develop timely and successful innovations will be relentless, with market research playing a key role at the front-end, identifying white spaces, unmet and even unarticulated needs.
– Qualitative research will continue to grow in stature, valued to get to the bottom of the question “why”?
– The industry will have an ongoing quality challenge – in the provision and analysis of data. Ensuring quality standards are met shouldn’t distract from the core task of linking insight generation to business impact. The same is true for data regulations on privacy and data protection.
– Finally, we will increasingly need to be creative and professional about attracting new talent to the industry, as the nimbus of being “in market research” has waned.
That was it from the Greenbook contirbution, predictions written late last year.
From the fresh perspective of early January 2019 I would add a couple of things:
– We have every reason to be optimistic for the coming 12 months. Data really is the new gold – mining it for business impact is ikely to remain a growth field for quite some time. That’s not just an opportunity for data scientists – those with expertise in social media analytics, behavioural science, semiotics, storytelling and more have a massive role to play. Foregrounding the specific skill sets we possess, describing ourselves as such will help increase value perceptions.
– Secondly, whilst 2018 was for many in MR likely a satsifactory year, the economic outook for 2019 is mixed: many economists highlight the risks of a global slowdown. Many stockmarkets fell in 2018 – Wall Street is often a predictor of things to come in Main Street. If – as is easily possible in this scenario – clients tighten budgets, the task of stressing the business value of MR becomes more urgent: proving and documenting the impact of what we do, aligning tightly with business outcomes.
One last thing, more on the wish-list side. For 2018 I hoped it it would be the year of “quality” in MR. Whether or not that was the case is the subject for another blog – so watch this space.
For 2019 I’d say: let’s make it the Year of Celebrating the Clientside Researcher! They are in many ways the key to a healthy MR future.
Happy New Year!
* Published originally on the Greenbook blog on 28th December 2018: 30 Industry Leaders Share Their 2019 Predictions