No matter what we are doing in our lives, personal or business, technology has become an integral part of our daily tasks. Much of it works “behind the scenes”, making our lives easier without us actively realizing it. Our head of marketing, Michael Howard, recently wrote for Greenbook about how this premise of “invisibility” is also important in the market research industry.
He begins with an analogy about how automatic transmissions in cars are an example of invisible technology. No longer do we have to manually shift our cars in order to get from point A to point B, our automatic transmissions are working hard for us with little intervention from the human driver. He writes that this example “highlights the overall premise of automation, which is one aspect of invisibility, carrying out a task without feeling like you’re using technology. For market researchers, the tasks that we’re talking about are primarily the generation of insights and understanding consumers.”
The article goes on to discuss that somewhere along the way, in the market research sector, technology itself became the primary focus, rather than the challenge it was solving. To meet shareholder expectations, some solutions tried to encompass unnecessary features and upgrades, becoming buggy and difficult to manage. If technology causes users to find ongoing struggles to operate the software and organizations to spend more time justifying its implementation, the pitfalls tend to outweigh the benefits.
Michael covers five main categories into which market research technologies generally fall, each addressing a key step in the research process. First, there is the step of defining the challenge or business problem, and consequently designing technology to solve it. He predicts that the industry will begin to see more solutions to address this critical first step soon. Next are platforms that address things like data collection, investigating the data, reporting, and acting on the data. The reporting stage is one area where market research technology offerings may also have some space to grow, while all categories have room for continuous innovation as the technology landscape evolves around us.
The article also touches on all-in-one technology platforms versus fit-for-purpose market research technology. All-in-one systems are often preferred by IT and procurement teams from larger corporations, but aren’t always able to handle the intricacies of market research data. He writes, “There’s nothing more frustrating than having to painstakingly work around the technology stack in your organization, which is often the case for insights professionals attempting to use BI tools to do their jobs.” Platforms that are specifically designed for market research can help avoid time-consuming workarounds and streamline the insights discovery process.
He concludes the piece with, “When technology is invisible, it doesn’t just make our lives as market research and insights teams much easier, most importantly, it makes our jobs far more enjoyable too.”