Podcast: Mike Stevens on how ResTech is the new normal for insights teams

We spoke with Mike Stevens, a leading consultant, advisor and writer at the intersection of technology, research and analytics, and explored how ResTech is the new normal in the insights industry.

In this episode of Now that's Significant, we were joined by market research and insights technologist, Mike Stevens, founder and editor of Insights Platforms. Mike is a leading consultant, advisor and writer at the intersection of technology, research and analytics. He has 20 years’ experience in insight, software and consulting firms including Vision Critical, where he led the EMEA region; and Kantar, where he managed regional business units and global accounts. He now helps client teams and agencies to build capability, adopt technology and implement process change.

We discussed how ResTech is the new normal in the market research and insights industry, how agencies fit into all this - in both current and future models, and what smart agencies can do now. 

ResTech (Research Technology), also known as market research and insights technology, is the new normal for insights professionals. ResTech is a term that has been floating around for a while now. “It’s almost not worth calling out ResTech as a separate thing anymore as it has become so ingrained in the insights industry,” says Mike. “It’s almost become invisible, as it’s deeply woven into the fabric of how people do research these days.”

Mike shares that, “when you actually get into the nitty gritty… there are so many nuances to the way that we need to manage and report data.” He continues by saying, “it's not about stamping a ‘one-size-fits-all’ - it’s about creating a framework of integrations, having an ecosystem where data can flow well between specialized solutions. That’s where a more mature insights and data environment is heading, into connected ecosystems.” 

What’s the role for agencies in all of this? “There’s a real resurgence in tech platforms offering more full service solutions wrapped around their offer, and the same agencies building up their software-led offers as well. I think we’re going to see some convergence happening down the line,” shares Mike. He continues by saying, “we’re going to see a separation between agencies who go upstream into much more advisory, premium, consultative spaces and agencies who go into the high-volume, lean and efficient, with technology as a core driver - there’s lots of opportunities around that.”

“The old model, where there’s a lot of agencies in the middle, I think that’s where there’s going to be a big squeeze,” says Mike. “Most agencies are going to have to get onboard to either go upstream, or use tech to drive much better efficiencies in their offer.” Mike defined the three big opportunities for agencies as: go upstream, go toward volume-based efficiency, or create a hybrid of powerful tech plus services-based IP.

What are the smart agencies doing now? Mike says they are “building technology into their IP and their offer, so they’re creating branded products powered by technology - sometimes in-house, sometimes white label with partnerships. They’re creating IP assets that are a combination of smart people and technology that are sticky and are really going to make a difference for their clients.” 

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