Can technology bridge the insight gap?

Lessons learned from launching Methodify

The pace at which the marketing industry is producing content has never been greater and marketers require insights faster than ever before in order to weave together the perfect story for both internal stakeholders and the marketplace.

Meanwhile, insight professionals are struggling to keep up by trying to deliver faster insights within reduced budgets and trying to fit multiple, and often conflicting, research objectives into every research study.

There is an insights gap between the speed at which marketers need to make marketing decisions, and the time it takes research professionals to deliver the insights marketers require.

While this gap has created a disconnect between the traditional market research industry and today’s marketers, it has also created opportunities for non-traditional technology-driven organizations to present marketers with digital tools and technology platforms that offer faster and lower-cost alternatives to traditional market research.

You don’t have to look far to find a multitude of digital solutions and emerging technologies that accelerate the ability to produce insights. Where DIY research technology platforms are offering marketers the ability to bypass full-service research firms and speed up the research process, new research automation solutions are going beyond DIY by automating the entire research process, making it faster than ever before to gain the insights needed.

These digital platforms are not only bridging the insight gap, they are challenging traditional research paradigms and creating confusion and disruption within both marketing and traditional market research.

Many marketers see the potential of these lower cost and faster solutions. However, while some insight professionals are embracing this change, others appear to dismiss these emerging and disruptive digital technologies and view them as a threat to their already shrinking research budgets. So, marketers are left venturing into this new domain on their own—or they’re struggling to pull their insight professionals along with them.

Building on the success of our AskingCanadians online research panel, Delvinia introduced a research automation platform last October called Methodify. Since then, we have received more than 200 inquiries from marketers, client-side insight professionals and research agencies. As a result, Raj Manocha, Delvinia’s EVP, has given hundreds of demonstrations—not only sharing the potential value of the platform, but using these conversations as an opportunity to gain valuable feedback on the readiness of the market for research automation.

Through these demonstrations – and in working with the financial services, CPG and QSR clients who are using Methodify – Raj has observed numerous examples of how marketers, client-side insight professionals and market research agencies are struggling with how to deal with the disruption that research automation is creating.

While reactions have ranged from excitement to fear to outright resistance – three main themes have emerged during this process:
1. There are two major challenges facing the adoption of research automation in the Canadian market. Marketers are struggling to adapt their corporate processes to fully benefit from the speed that automation provides. And, for insights professionals, the challenge is about accepting a new way of doing research.

2. Marketers and insight professionals want to see relevant case studies and examples that specifically relate to their businesses in order to help them fully visualize the benefits that research automation has to offer. It’s one thing to tell people research automation will work; it’s another to show them.

3. The speed of research automation is great, but at the end of the day marketers and researchers need to be able to trust in the quality of the sample. If the quality of the sample isn’t good, then it’s all useless.

We are just at the beginning of the age of automated insight with the Canadian marketing research industry and there is certainly a lot to consider and talk about. In fact later this week, the Canadian Marketing Association will be hosting its annual CMAinsights Conference to address the challenges marketers face in bridging the gap between data and insights.

As part of that event Raj will be facilitating a discussion on the role of research automation technologies and how they impact the ability to obtain a more holistic view of the consumer, secure executive buy-in, break down organizational silos, and ultimately build more effective marketing campaigns.

Attending conferences like this not only helps to see what technologies are emerging, but provides a forum where discussion can take place. Are these tools helping marketers understand consumer attitudes and behaviours at near real-time, or are they creating more confusion?

With marketers looking for speed and insight professionals wanting statistical significance, are these simply technology innovations, or are the needs of marketers and insight professionals defining the benefits that these technologies can offer the market?

Is the simplicity of these technologies providing a false confidence to those that don’t understand the fundamentals of market research and data analytics?

The answers to these questions still need to be determined. But one thing is certain: research automation is coming. You only have to look south of the border to see that the change has begun and the momentum is building for both the adoption of research automation platforms, and the emergence of companies offering automated solutions. As we continue to introduce Methodify into the marketplace, we have also accepted the responsibility of educating those that are struggling with change.

Adam Froman is CEO of Delvinia

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