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Bob Birdsell and Dan Fleetwood on ESOMAR and the Future of Insights

We were joined on the podcast by Bob Birdsell, ESOMAR’s Membership Development Director for North America and Dan Fleetwood, President of Research Suite at QuestionPro and the chair of the North American Representative team for ESOMAR. 


During the episode, our guests started by pointing out the rapid growth of the U.S. market research tech sector, as reported in ESOMAR’s most recent Global Market Research Report which provides annual insights into industry trends, growth metrics, external influences on the research sector and more. This rapid growth is one indicator of the opportunities in the current and future research sector in the region and on a global scale.

Dan talked a bit about his volunteer position as an ESOMAR Representative for North America. As chair, he leads the team of regional representatives to spread awareness about ESOMAR and facilitate networking opportunities for members, among other things. They both talk about some of the programs that ESOMAR offers its members, including networking events, educational opportunities, the Young ESOMAR Society (YES) for young people in market research and many others. 

Recently, ESOMAR launched its AI Task Force, tying in nicely with the theme of tech growth in the industry. They touched on the role that generative AI is playing in the industry, such as the creation of survey questionnaires, enhancement of data quality, time-saving automation, and the intelligent synthesis of insights through dynamic dashboards. With the implementation of this technology comes both challenges and opportunities, not to mention ethical considerations, - all subjects that the new task force is tackling. 

While AI is definitely a driving force in the future of the insights space, Dan also mentioned some of the other industry trends. “Collaboration is evident in mergers, associations, and addressing industry challenges. AI disruption underscores collaboration's importance among experts, associations, and enterprises. Data quality remains crucial, evident in initiatives like the Data Quality Task Force.” This task force is a collaboration among multiple industry organizations - such as ESOMAR, the Market Research Society, the Insights Association, SampleCon, The Research Society in Australia and many others - who have come together to tackle this critical issue. Our guests emphasized the ongoing importance of focusing on data quality, even while AI tends to dominate the current conversations in the industry. 

We then discussed some of ESOMAR’s upcoming initiatives and programs, including the organization’s flagship annual event, ESOMAR Congress being held September 10-13 in Amsterdam. Bob said it is on track to be one of the best attended events in the history of the organization, with a large North American contingency already registered. “The theme of our Congress this year is “supercharged” and it will bring four days of interaction and learning so that you're able to equip yourself with tools, knowledge and ideas that will help you power up your insights.” In addition, we talked about some of the industry partnerships that the group has formed, with organizations like Greenbook, TMRE, Women in Research (WIRe) and others. 

To summarize, our guests shared with us that the future of the insights sector looks strong based on the latest GMR Report, with growth fueled by technological breakthroughs, collaborative endeavors, and concerted efforts to enhance data quality and seamlessly integrate AI. ESOMAR stands at the forefront of these developments, providing an array of resources, events, and programs to empower professionals in the industry. 

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