Once again, I attended what I have come to consider the premiere event for MR’s who are interested in staying abreast of trends, the IIeX Conference in Atlanta. A combination of excellent presentations as well as a very robust exhibit experience – often with vendors I have not yet seen at another conference – makes it a “must” on my annual conference list. Here are a few of my takeaways:
- There is a sense that the industry has swung too far in our focus on technology at the expense of insights. It’s not enough to have whiz bang, gee whiz technology unless it is helpful in producing strategic insight. As one panelist stated, technology should be assisting us in freeing up our intellectual capital, so that only 20% of our time is spent on analysis, and the remaining 80% is on the storytelling.
- Qualitative seems to be making a comeback, as the antidote to overwhelming amounts of data that are lacking insight. As a qualitative research consultant, it is both gratifying and a very welcome trend.
- We have reached the point where there is no longer much meaningful distinction between online research and mobile research. Even when respondents are participating using an online platform, they are highly likely to be accessing it on their smartphone. Essentially, we have moved into an era where research has become “device agnostic”. I heretofore resolve to refer to Doyle Research’s online and mobile capabilities as our “digital” methods.
- The panel and recruitment segment of our industry is struggling with the fact that screeners and surveys are becoming longer and longer, sharply increasing the cost to complete a study. Some vendors are considering charging for Q’s above a certain number; others are taking the approach of refusing to accept more than a certain number of questions. Clearly, as researchers and clients, we must question the need to ask so many questions. Do we really think the quality of the insights is going to be improved by surveying respondents who are impatient and fatigued?
- One thing I heard that disturbed me: some clients reported that they receive deliverables from their MR partners that they need to rewrite before issuing them. In some cases, they have defaulted to asking only for the raw data and writing it from scratch themselves. We cannot let that happen! Our long-term value—the value that cannot be replaced by technology — lies in our ability to deliver insights, as well as the strategies for acting upon those insights, in a clear and compelling manner; and to engage our clients in co-creating solutions.
Once again, I left IIeX exhausted (did I mention that it took 15 hours to fly home from Atlanta to Chicago?) but inspired. Keep up the good work Lenny and crew! I’ll see you next year.