Nerves, new faces and disruptive trends in market research analysis

Saida Isamova presented in the New Speakers Track at IIeX Europe, discussing how automation and machine learning can speed up data analysis and increase data quality, giving market researchers more time to be curious.

I believe there is an adage to the effect that you should be careful what you wish for.

For instance, I have always heartily applauded the idea of giving new speakers that chance to be heard at IIeX EU, which belief held good – right up until I was invited to be one of them. Suddenly I had a different viewpoint.

From a business perspective, there are two clear benefits in having a new speakers track:

  • Conference organizers increase the diversity of their speaker lineups.
  • People like myself can "get their feet wet" to see if the speaker circuit is a good fit.

That’s all well and good, but from a personal perspective, I was, quite frankly, terrified.

“Focus on what you know,” I coached myself. So I channeled my energy into researching favorite topics of mine: artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning, and how they are already changing the face of our industry.

Soon I was putting my slides together, consulting with colleagues, and planning out my presentation flow. Then before I knew it, it was time to go.

However, no amount of practice had calmed the butterflies in my stomach. And it certainly didn’t help that my presentation slot was scheduled for the same time as Facebook’s session in the main presentation theatre. In reality, I wasn’t expecting many people to show up. After all, I knew which session I wanted to be at.

Innovative technology empowers market researchers like never before

My saving grace was that I was speaking on a topic that is a hot button for market research. Automation and AI were dominating subjects at the conference, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a healthy audience turnout.

There was an excellent presentation about IBM’s ground-breaking AI Watson, entitled Power of Human Intelligence in the New Era - Man and the Machine. There were also compelling presentations from companies such as Remesh and ZappiStore on the different aspects of AI and its impact on research.

I believe that while new technological advances such as automation can help us become more efficient, they will never replace human-driven strategic thinking.

Traditionally, market researchers have been slow to react to many of the changes in technology, but the shift has undoubtedly started within our part of the industry.

As part of my presentation, I talked about these changes. I shared ideas on how innovations such as AI can assist with faster turnaround times and improved quality of results, and how this can give researchers the luxury of more time to be curious.

I firmly believe that while new technological advances such as automation can help us become more efficient, they will never replace human-driven strategic thinking.

Researchers are hungry to learn more

Fortunately for me, the audience at my presentation was engaging and asking a variety of insightful questions. After the presentation, audience members approached me, wanting to find out more about how Infotools is dealing with advances in technology.

People are genuinely interested in these topics and in integrating them into their practices. I was able to share how Infotools develops its solutions in-house and how well we understand the needs and challenges of researchers because we are researchers ourselves.

Despite my nerves and an emphatic declaration of "never again!" I was delighted when a co-worker shared some positive IIeX feedback with me from guest writer Adam Warner on the RW Connect industry blog. He wrote that he "had the pleasure of seeing some stand out presentations, [including] from Saida [Eldon] of Infotools looking at AI and machine learning."

Maybe I'll get up on that stage again after all.

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