Digital Disruption – A Blessing or Curse For Market Research?

Is the ­­digital data avalanche the start of a new world that is destined to drive established research methods to obsolescence or extinction?

There is no doubt fast evolving emerging technologies, such as Automation and Artificial Intelligence, are contributing to some of the greatest challenges ever experienced in the market research and insight industry.

Software and ad-tech companies have been able to enter the market with programs that collect and interpret data far quicker and cheaper than traditional methodologies.

Information gathering heavyweights such as Google, Facebook and Amazon have entered the ring with the ability to fund and become early adopters of artificial and intuitive programs to automate the collection and interpretation of consumer insights on an industrial scale never witnessed before.

Silicon Valley programmers are developing customized machine algorithms that feed on information and recycle data patterns that could make predictive insights the norm.

Advanced machine learning engines are being utilized to personalize customer experiences in a way that strengthens and develops deeper relationships between their brands and customers.

Many traditional agencies are beginning to understand that an essential requirement of technology may well lie at the heart of their future existence and prosperity in the insight market, as they are confronted by a wave of new digital players.

But for some agencies their current concepts of data value and methods to reap its rich insight harvest falls far short by buying in digital tools and programs without a cogent game plan of how to navigate the digital maze that lies before them.

Many may speculate that some of the new methodologies are merely a trend destined to be a niche product rather than a game changer that will revolutionize the industry.

But clients are demanding greater levels of sophistication and insight than ever before and the data revolution is fuelling that drive.

The ability to see and react instantly with customers using digital methods means retailers can optimise and continually refine the end user experience.

There is still value in methods such as consumer panels, but behavioural data gleaned by machine learning programs that highlight real time actions by customers is leaving some clients questioning the relevancy of the traditional options that once seemed an automatic choice.

Despite the digital data boom there will still remain a demand for bespoke research to gain insights into the increasingly complex world of information. There is also some concern over the potential risk of exposure to flawed digital data (it’s only as good as the algorithm).

Successful researchers are not averse to risk and innovation. They embrace the changing face of the industry by investing in technology and by creating multi-skilled teams that can seamlessly process diverse information channels into one clear data set for clients.

The real industry pioneers and game changing agencies of the future will harness and decipher digital data to create truly actionable insight and strategic advice for their clients and brands.

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