Can adopting the right technology bring us to the 'golden age' of market research?

Should middle-sized agencies make the choice to invest heavily in technology or invest in knowledgeable, charismatic and impactful consultants?

Only a few short years ago, market researchers bemoaned the slow-moving nature of our industry. It seemed like we were the last to adopt new technology and methods, and we were always scrambling to keep up with the Jones in other sectors. We can probably agree that this is no longer the case. In fact, the industry is changing so fast - mergers, acquisitions, new technology development, new methodologies - that our biggest questions now surround which steps we’ll take next. 

This topic was recently covered on Research Live, Market Research Society’s highly regarded blog, in an article called “The Squeezed Middle.” Written by Roger Perowne, CEO of Savanta, the article touches on several key points, covering how middle-sized agencies should start to “rethink their business model to survive the current climate.” One part of the article that stood out to us was the section on technology adoption, which has yet to reach any kind of universal benchmark. 

The author argues that middle-sized agencies must choose to invest heavily in technology or invest in “knowledgeable, charismatic, and impactful consultants.” In the end, the only practical solution is to invest in both ends of the spectrum, letting technology take the burden of many current labor-intensive processes that smart automation, AI and APIs can handle if properly applied. 

Thus far, the challenge has been widespread adoption of the right kind of solutions, with many firms using platforms that are fragmented or those that are not explicitly made to process market research data. For many, implementing new technology has meant spending precious time struggling with workarounds and extra steps. 

There is now a new wave of technology solutions that are purpose-built for market researchers. For example, our Harmoni platform works natively with market research complexities, including sampling, weighting, and analysis, making it easier and faster to investigate data and find insights. It also streamlines sharing these stories, so stakeholders can increase their understanding and use the data to make good decisions. The right platform can help automate and optimize workflows; company leaders just need to understand the benefits and take the plunge.  

At this point in our history, it is not a question of adopting technology or not. We must do so to stay competitive, but making the right selection can mean the difference between delivering insights quickly and successfully or struggling with a solution that isn’t fit for purpose. Finding a deft balance between the vital human aspects of research - curiosity, intuition, storytelling, relationships - and a technology that enhances these aspects will be key to success. When we can do this, we will indeed be entering what the author dubs as the “golden age of research.”


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