Market research has traditionally served as the voice of the customer in business decisions. However in recent years, we’ve seen the businesses we serve and their marketing teams forced into a position where moving fast is essential to remaining competitive. Often leaving little time or budgets to conduct research with rigor.

With the advent of automation, those who have invested in technology are seeing higher quality data collection, lower costs, and faster turnaround times. The role of the researcher is moving away from detail oriented project management to storytelling and client success. Not only is this process more efficient, we’re also able to get more research done with less.

By guiding learning journeys throughout our client’s development processes with iterative research projects instead of just one, we can dramatically improve the business impact rates of creative development or product innovation. I believe that by asking for consumer input earlier and more often, we will all become more productive in our approach to the market.

Automation uptake by region – GRIT Report Q1-Q2 2017

According to a new McKinsey’s report, recent developments in artificial intelligence, intelligence augmentation, and machine learning have put us on the cusp of a new automation age. Based on their scenario modeling, automation is estimated to raise annual productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4%.

In this latest edition of the GRIT survey we can see automation in full swing across multiple facets of market research. 55% of respondents are exploring use cases or have already adopted automation in their analysis of survey and text data, social media data and in their charting and infographics.

Adoption of automation – GRIT Report Q1-Q2 2017

However the rate of adoption is not universal across all planes of research. Many respondents are still unsure of whether survey design and sampling could be automated, despite many panel providers today offering advanced technical access. While it may be challenging to automate the creation of a custom survey, it certainly is possible to standardize those for specific use cases with the thinking behind some of the greatest research agencies.

Even as the head of a company focused on automating research, it’s important to mention that we should only automate tasks where the benefits clearly triumph the costs and setup time needed to invest in automation.

Adoption of approaches amongst buyers & clients – GRIT Report Q1-Q2 2017

I also understand and appreciate this is not everyone’s cup of tea! Not everyone wants to work towards or in a scaled up operation with an ever-larger number of clients and using the service in a more programmatic manner. Some people want to work closely with a small number of clients. The fact still remains they want to be paid well and respected for their work.

These professionals will therefore need to hone skills and build expertise which are unlikely to be automated in the foreseeable future. They should be masters of “mixology” blending the use of automated tools with their ‘bespoke’ creativity, interpretation and storytelling. It’s only when we embrace this that automation can fully empower us to maximize our potential.

Daniel Evans

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Daniel Evans

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