Where we are and where we’re headed

Hi folks, as voluntary Media Manager here at Significant Insights, I have the pleasure of learning from some of our industry’s most experienced, skilled researchers. We regularly ask interviewees for their advice for our sector, and their responses ought to resonate throughout the research industry as visions for the future. Here are some of my favourites:

If we want to credibly talk to – and understand – consumers from all walks of life, we must bring them into the industry, and more importantly, keep them here. If we want this sector to thrive and be relevant to business success, we have to be much more intentional about bringing in and retaining talent from underrepresented groups (whether that be education, socioeconomic factors, race, gender or disability etc) – Patrick Collins, Director of Consumer Insights, EMEA for Netflix

This is probably one of my favourite responses. Far from being a quota to meet or political correctness to observe, diversity in our industry is crucial so that we can actually succeed in understanding consumers and their decision-making. This is important not just for the research industry, but for business more broadly, and Patrick helps us realise that diversity is a key constituent of organisational and industry success.

Focus on helping organizations make better decisions – don’t be too precious about whether something is or isn’t market research. – Ray Poynter

In May last year, we spoke to Ray Poynter, who has worked in the industry since the 1970s. The wisdom he has accumulated during that time is simple: help organisations make better decisions. If that isn’t a clear brief for the industry then I don’t know what is. Despite the numbers, datasets, polls and information that is flying around, helping organisations make better decisions is the very essence of the research industry. We should never lose sight of that.

Please, please, please use this [the pandemic] as an opportunity to embrace new ways of working. Yes, lots of people are really looking forward to getting back to the office, but let’s not default back to how things were. – Sinéad Jefferies, Founder of Vela

Two years ago we spoke to the founder of Vela, a consultancy and training business that is focused on supporting teams and individuals to make the most of flexible working. Sinéad offered her advice almost two years ago now, but she is right. Recognising that people benefit from remote working environments will allow the industry to truly harness its talent, and allow each individual to thrive in an environment that truly fits them.

Be bold, and innovative, and always have the client’s needs in mind. What’s great about insights is how we challenge each other to constantly evolve and provide better research alternatives to help our clients look good to their stakeholders. I love the speed at which we’re innovating constantly. – Janice Lai, Marketing Director at Behaviorally

Be bold, be innovative. While short and straightforward, Janice’s advice highlights the importance of innovation in allowing the research industry to help clients appeal to stakeholders, arguably one of the most important parts of any organisation.

Although ‘AI’ and ‘big data’ have been industry buzzwords for the last few years, we must not forget the power of observation. We need to be able to strike a balance between utilising large data sets as well as identifying the smaller observations across all our projects. These observations allow us to build empathy as we start to feel what other people are feeling, through their values, mindsets, and emotions. Ultimately, this helps us to develop better products, services, experiences, and outcomes. – Roger Kong, Senior Consultant at Fiftyfive5

I absolutely love, love, love this one! Back in November, we spoke to 30under30 honoured Roger Kong, who currently works as a Senior Consultant at Fiftyfive5, a leading independent market research company. I, myself, have a huge passion for learning about AI and where it can take us as a species, especially when we think about the still hypothetical yet mesmerising capabilities of artificial general intelligence (AGI). Yet, Kong rightly points out that AI and Big Data aren’t the only powers driving our industry and the world’s innovation. Being able to identify where and why the minutia has a significant impact is a key part of being a perspicacious individual, let alone an effective researcher. In an industry rooted in human behaviour, we must not forget the power of observation when it comes to innovation and development.

So, there you have it! While it is nearly impossible to collate so much wisdom and experience that we have interviewed over the years, I hope that you can see why these are among my favourites. One of the best things about doing what I do at Significant Insights is that I get to learn from some of the best, the most experienced, and sometimes just the most wonderful people in our industry.

My advice? Keep producing researchers like these lovely folks!