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IIex North America - A Trip to Texas

Leading market research conference, IIeX North America, finally outgrew its Atlanta origins and moved to an equally interesting place: Austin, Texas. We were there - here's a quick wrap-up.

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Leading market research conference, IIeX North America, finally outgrew its Atlanta origins and moved to an equally interesting place: Austin, Texas.

The AT&T Hotel and Conference Center allowed for a much bigger exhibition space, which was once again jam-packed with market research, insights and technology providers. Plus, two coffee locations, a juice bar, a perfume-making place, someone who wrote you a poem on a typewriter (remember these?) and much more.

Let’s talk about the program and why overall I enjoyed this year’s conference so much. The sessions that I attended shared more actual business implementations and impacts and less aspirational “we do this great stuff but can’t share it with you” content. While we still need to see some aspirational, out-there thinking to keep our industry innovating and moving forward, I felt the mix was much better this year.

As per previous years, IIeX NA was set for two and a half days. However, we started with a half-day session on Tuesday and then had two full days of sessions. This could have been an attempt to give some extra time after the Easter holiday so everyone could arrive in time for the kick-off, or a strategy to entice people to stay the end on the final day. If the latter, I don’t think it worked out, as I saw many people leaving on the final afternoon, thus missing a chunk of very good presentations. 

It was an interesting change to start the conference off with separate workshops rather than a full-house opening session with keynote addresses.  I liked the concept as the one-hour workshops worked well for me and we had more of a chance to dig into the content.  This starkly contrasted with the mere 15 minutes that the main presentations had during the regular program.  I'd rather have a bit more time for presenters to get their case studies across – how about 25 minutes?

 

As usual with these conferences, there are multiple streams, so I’m not able to reflect on all papers.  Amongst the presentations I saw, my favorites were:

  • “Understanding player churn before they leave” by Cheri Marine of GSN Games – closing the feedback loop from Big Data behavioral data analytics to observational research and back to build better forecasting algorithms that include the ‘why’.

  • “How greyhound leveraged AI and Customer feedback” by Samuel St-Martin, Greyhound and Dr. Alyona Medelyan, Thematic – A great case study that showed how text analytics and segmentation, plus the will to cut a 20 minutes’ customer experience survey to two minutes paid dividends by providing much richer outcomes.

  • “The Morality of Market Research in the age of AI” by Andrew Konya, Remesh – Where does AI potentially get us in this technology-focused world, and what privacy and morality borders might we cross if we are not careful? Presented in a fun but also a very uncomfortable way.

  • “Blockchain Market Research solutions: What do participants think?” by Andrew Cannon of GRBN and Lisa Wilding-Brown of Innovate MR – Talking to MR participants about Blockchain and its potential impact highlights that there is a long way to go before this might become mainstream.

  • New Speakers’ track – I must confess I didn’t manage to see a lot of them this year, but I think this is still one of the best opportunities to see and support new speakers. Thanks to IIeX and Annie Pettit for making this a fixture at the conference.

 

IIeX North America is already locked in for next year April 14-16 in Austin, so make sure you put it into your conference calendar. Despite minor kinks, this conference is always on the top of our list at Infotools, and we’re looking forward to 2020.