by Jeremy Cochran
Recently, I attended Greenbook’s IIEX North America conference in Austin. It was a whirlwind three days of hearing thought-provoking presentations, talking with innovative companies, and networking with folks from all over the industry!
Here are some of the key headlines that are shaping the future of insights:
AI is Everywhere, but it’s not Everything
Unsurprisingly, I heard many (many!) discussions on AI and the future of insights. While there has been a flurry of startup activity and innovation with AI, as well as a decent amount of handwringing, my key takeaway is that AI is a step in the process, not the process itself. AI will certainly transform how our industry operates—this is already happening! But, as of now, the fundamental questions we answer are the same: What do consumers want? How can we improve the experience? Who is missing out on our brand/experience? The crucial point for insights professionals is to adapt, looking at AI as an upgrade rather than an obstacle.
AI’s Dual Role in Sample Quality
The conference highlighted the ongoing issue of sample quality and, as with everything, discussed how AI will help or challenge our ability to gather accurate data. The answer? It’s doing both – researchers and fraudsters are leveraging AI-based tools – but the outlook is positive. For example, while bad actors can generate plausible open-ended text through use of Generative AI, researchers and sample quality professionals are enhancing detection of non-human activity by also utilizing AI tools. Ensuring surveys are crafted in a way to capture qualified respondents is no longer enough; these conversations around AI and modern fraud activity illuminate the need for dedicated sample experts on your research team. Having an active knowledge and navigation of the modern sample landscape will become even more critical to capture accurate insights as we move into the future.
Insights teams from brands that spoke at the conference focused on a much less tech-oriented topic: empathy. Many client-side speakers emphasized the importance of understanding consumers’ whole lives, not just how they interact with their product or service, and how that opens opportunities for their brands and demonstrates the value of insights teams. Topics on this theme included building research processes that ensure traditionally underserved communities are not ignored (REI), the need for insights professionals to get out and meet their customers (Liquid Death), and letting users’ broader life challenges help guide changes to user experience (Kroger). By embracing empathy and delving deeper into consumer needs and desires, brands can forge stronger connections and create more meaningful experiences.
A Lot of Agile Energy Around Here
Saying “agile is the new norm” is a bit cliche, but there’s certainly a lot of demand for, and supply of, agile solutions. With trends cycling faster and attention spans shrinking, brands need quick access to reliable information. Both suppliers and client-side researchers will need to continue adopting agile principles: broaden your considerations instead of sticking with a specific methodology and focus on solutions, develop a culture that celebrates failure and learns from it, and don’t fear pivoting when something isn’t working out.
Jeremy is Burke’s Research and Development Manager. As an analytics and strategy leader with over 15 years of experience in the insights industry, Jeremy has a passion for finding new ways to solve problems and gain insights.
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