This week’s guest blog comes from Ian Lewis, Director, Research Impact Consulting at Cambiar. Ian was an MREB member when he led the Consumer Research & Insights team at Time Inc.
Cambiar launched the Future of Research Study in 2011, with invaluable help from MREB members. We learned that most corporate market researchers expect major transformation of the research industry that will be evident within three years from now. The key drivers for this change are management demands to deliver more, faster and with less resource; technology; the digitization of everything; the empowered and connected consumer; and the globalization of the middle class. Joe Tripodi, CMO of Coca-Cola, said it best: “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance a whole lot less. “
In 2012, our study focused on the reality of transformation - on what corporate researchers are doing and what is happening with research transformation in 2012. We kept a few benchmark questions looking ahead to 2020, to see how expectations are evolving.
Here are some of the questions we addressed corporate researchers (Manager and above):
- How much of the corporate research budget goes to strategic research? How does this relate to satisfaction?
- What’s happening with ways of working – are corporate researchers becoming thought partners, conducting more strategic research and making the “Now What” recommendations using storytelling?
- How are new research tools and information sources being integrated into research solutions? Which new tools are taking hold and which aren’t?
- What’s the extent of synthesized analysis, and with which information sources?
- What kinds of people are being hired today, and what types of training are being provided?
Now here’s a glimpse at what we’re learning, and we’ll expand on this in the June 25 webinar:
- The drumbeat for transformation is growing. There is almost universal expectation of transformation or significant change in our industry, and two-thirds expect that the industry leading supplier in 2020 will not be a traditional market research firm. There is universal expectation that corporate research departments will be more closely integrated with analytics groups.
- Implementation in 2012 is focusing on new ways of working, new skills, new tools. Two-thirds or greater are embracing change & innovation, rethinking research processes, doing more in the way of collaboration with clients to get to insights, being a thought partner, conducting strategic research, synthesizing information, using storytelling and making “now what?” recommendations. There’s a huge need for developing what’s typically called “soft skills”, but was more aptly renamed “power skills” at the recent AMA Marketing Research Executive Forum. (MREB members, see Skills for the Next Generation of Market Researchers)
- Involvement in strategic research drives researcher satisfaction. Our study estimates the median spend to be about 30% strategic. More importantly, the 3 in 10 who are “very satisfied” with their current role have a much higher percent of budget spent on strategic research.
- New tools are being actively integrated into research solutions. Those with the highest level of integration (30% or greater) include web analytics, DIY research, proprietary online panels, innovative qualitative, online communities (MROCs) and social media listening. Some that have not taken hold widely to date include virtual or 3-D shopping, gamification, neuroscience/biometrics and prediction markets. Researchers universally expect mobile to become part of the standard toolkit by 2020, but it isn’t there yet.
- Data synthesis analysis is widespread. The most frequently used information sources for synthesis are quantitative surveys, qualitative research, market measurement, followed by company financial data and sales force information. One third includes social media listening. Only one in three incorporate tacit information – the experience of company executives. (MREB members, access information on Data Synthesis)
- Hiring continues to favor generalists over specialists. Training is focused on innovative tools and a range of soft skills. Over half the recent corporate researcher hires have been generalists, followed by advanced analytics. We expect the latter to grow with the rise of Big Data applications. An MBA is the most likely background for today’s hires. (MREB members, see thoughts on Hiring Research Talent)
Join us on June 25 for an in-depth discussion on these study findings: Research Transformation–From Idea to Reality