On a warm summer’s afternoon in London, 60+ research innovators and enthusiasts gathered at the Tate Modern’s sunny East Room for our first exclusive European Insiders event.
Overlooking St Paul’s cathedral, we explored and discussed industry-wide behaviour change and tech adoption, the benefits of augmented intelligence in research, as well as faster, simpler, more economical approaches to delivering transformative consumer insights.
The following is a brief overview of how the day unfolded, including some key takeaways from speakers’ presentations. If you were lucky enough to attend, we hope you found the whole experience as insightful and enjoyable as we did.
Focus #1: Codifying Human Expertise (Steve Phillips and Dave Birch, Zappi)
This discussion encompassed Zappi’s ethos, both as a business and as a culture, with a look towards the future (using the past as a guidepost).
Dave remarked that he is never allowed on stage without Steve (who routinely translates his technology buzzwords into layman’s terms), and in kind, Steve recalled that he had been mostly technology unaware before he met Dave.
Together, they spoke of the journey since Steve’s realization in 2010 that innovation in research shouldn’t just be around methodology; but that Zappi’s success could came from the successful automation of manual processes (the ‘plumbing’ behind research). Now it’s 2018, and these complexities are largely solved. Zappi’s new focus has become that of fully ‘codifying human expertise’ – the organization’s new MTP (Massively Transformative Purpose), serving as the inspiration and driving force behind every business decision.
Steve and Dave covered instances of dumb data in action (computer-led decisions) versus augmented intelligence, empathy, and understanding (human + machine learning). The results of which were exemplified in the following sessions.
Key takeaway: The best technology solves present-day problems, while anticipating the needs that could arise in future.
Focus #2: Approaching Insights for the Digital Age (Laura Barber, PepsiCo)
Outdated tools built for a world before the advent of social media and mobile; week-long turnaround times; no single source of truth or scale for research results – does any of this ring any bells? Laura Barber feels your pain.
She shared these age-old market research issues and went on to explain how PepsiCo have combated them in recent years – especially through the adoption of Zappi’s intelligent insights platform. Insights organizations have a simple choice to make: either adapt or become irrelevant.
Laura echoed Steve and Dave’s sentiment that Data + Algorithms = Dumb Data, whereas Data + Algorithms + Human Expertise = Smart Data. Together with Zappi, PepsiCo is creating a truly connected ecosystem for business-wide insights, functioning at every stage of development: from innovation and advertising to packaging and forecasting.
Key takeaway:Incremental changes in tackling systemic issues is not a winning formula. Go big or go home.
Focus #3: New Processes and Behaviour Change (Beth Corte-Real, PMI)
As Philip Morris International explores modern options aside from its core product lines, it remains keen on embracing future-thinking and a research platform to match. Their director of marketing research, Beth, highlighted some key best practices in how to implement a new piece of technology within a well-established workflow, so much so that an iterative ‘test and learn’ approach has become a mainstay within PMI circles.
With this approach, they have a day dedicated each week to launching tests through the platform, referred to as ‘Zappi Day’. The work they’ve done in a short period has driven clear results:
- PMI has experienced a 148% increase in the number of research projects conducted since 2016
- 83% of their research projects have been completed in fewer than eight weeks
- 75% of research projects have cost less than $25k
Key takeaway: Sourcing carefully for the right technology, and a dedication to change management, can reinvent your business strategy.
Focus #4: Consumer, Technology, and Societal Changes (Tracey Follows, Futuremade)
Tracey Follows was the Zappi Insiders’ keynote speaker for the afternoon. She comes from Futuremade, but may as well claim to come from the future itself. She has led foresight projects for Diageo, Virgin, BBC, Facebook, Google, Telefonica and more, with a personal focus on the future of marketing, AI, and Ethics.
What are the four recurring trends in emerging tech?
- Moral coding and social wellness
- Predictive analytics and AI
- Emotional analytics
- Data-driven platforms
Within each of these areas, she unveiled a range of breakthrough new technologies including: computer simulations of entire cities, real-world smart cities built from the internet up, digital citizenship with remote business ownership, and financial transactions using just your smile.
Tracey also encouraged the room to consider the ethics of emerging technologies, such as deepfake videos (e.g. footage of President Obama saying things he did not actually say); technology focused on very young children; and human-like AI phone calls Quoting Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Tracey forced the room to think of the human ramifications in a world where ‘privacy is a human right’ doesn’t ring true.
Key takeaway: As innovation blurs the line between what is tech and what is human, there is a need to understand and prepare for the social and ethical ramifications.
Inside Looking Out: The Future’s Bright
With a view of London’s intertwined architecture, both old and the new, the group’s parting sense of optimism was clear: innovative technology’s presence in the consumer research and insights space can seem unnerving, but embracing its changes has empowered those speaking to push the boundaries of tech within their organizations and find a competitive advantage.
Some more pictures from the event:
We hope you join us for our next Insiders events. If you have any questions, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.