IIeX NA 2017 – Looking Forward

By Patricia Houston, VP – Client Relationships

IIeX North America 2017 continued the tradition of pushing the market research industry toward – what’s next? At MMR Research we are continually asking the same question of ourselves. What new tech or trend will add value to our research toolkit, versus what’s likely just a fad or buzzword? Below, we reflect on key conference themes and their implications for us and our client partnerships.


Our Research Concierge Role Continues to Grow in Importance and Relevance

For the past three years we’ve found great solution partners at IIeX that have enhanced our ability to provide best-fit research designs to our clients. We pilot test their offerings and form relationships with solution partners so that our client base doesn’t have to – we do the leg work and streamline the vetting process for them, ultimately extending client reach.

If you are a client-side researcher, your reaction might be so what? (Which is exactly what we’d want you to ask!)

A common refrain in our industry is that client-side researchers must push beyond a focus on method and/or simply delivering insights to instead focusing on impacting business decisions and actions. MMR was founded on this belief in 1999 and it is our continuing mission is to inspire confidence in decision making. We know that in order for our client researchers to transform research into action and inspire decision-making, they need time. Something they do not have in abundance.

As a Research Concierge, we take work off the client researcher’s plate to ensure their time is spent on internal influence and not on things like vetting new tech, methodology nuance, or sampling source. Thomas Grayman, VP, Strategic Insights Innovation at Viacom, confirmed that senior management has less patience for ‘intricacies of your methods’. Instead, they ultimately see a small but highly potent fraction of what you deliver (read a panel recap from MRII’s @jhenning).


Industry Automation and AI Efforts Need a New Focus

Automation and AI weren’t new themes at IIeX this year, but efforts seems to be concentrated on two areas of market research where thought power and flexibility produce the most value: research design and reporting.

At IIeX last year Melanie Courtright from Research Now declared (and we at MMR would agree) that the best candidates for automation are things currently completed by “doing hands.” Automating then will free us up as researchers to be “thinking minds” and consultation providers. There’s definitely a place for automated options in a researcher’s toolkit, but only if that’s what the “thinking mind” designing the research determines is a best fit for the decision to be impacted.

Automation is also synonymous with faster, but they are not interdependent. Non-automated research can be fast as well. What slows research down the most is a lack of focus on the POV to be addressed by the project – a decision-focused approach increases what’s commonly called “speed to insight.”

We have a policy at MMR about creating new company standards – never create a standard for the sake of creating a standard, only put one in place if it will make the end-results better for everyone. So it is with automation: What can we as an industry focus on automating to make research better for all? We’ll explore some ideas in future blog posts. Have an idea? Send us an email or Tweet to @MMRResAssocs.

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