Those businesses that actively challenge and look to resolve known barriers to unified insights are most definitely seeing the benefits, especially during these challenging COVID impacted times.
It is a couple of weeks now since as a ‘data analyst’ I attended (and presented at!) my first MRS conference. This instalment was the “AI | Data | Analytics Virtual Summit.” After having had time to reflect, I must admit to being excited by the future of the two historically separate functions.
Twenty years ago, I worked within a data analytics in-house team. Back then the market research function was not only separate, but I was also completely unaware it even existed. Now it seems crazy that the company was generating strategically critical insight from two parts of the business that didn’t even talk. How could a single version of the truth ever be presented? The theme of the MRS conference was very much along this vein – how data analytics/data science can advance and support market research functions. Having worked with 100’s of insight functions over the last decade and chairing panel discussions on this very topic, I can say that we are still not as integrated as much as both functions would like… but we are getting there.
If there is a recognition as to the benefit of bringing the functions together why has this not accelerated as we would have hoped? There are a number of reasons:
They are recognised as different disciplines and often the managers have and need specific experience in the field. There is therefore a reluctance to merge the teams by the managers themselves. They would be managing specialist teams in which they are no longer an expert.
Market research is often outsourced and supplied by a roster of agencies. This naturally means that integration with behavioural led insight becomes more challenging.
Timescales for delivery are often very different with data analysis being immediately accessible where market research often lags and is dependent on the design and deployment of surveys (although this is changing).
Those businesses that actively challenge and look to resolve the above are most definitely seeing the benefits especially during these challenging COVID impacted times, as evidenced by Christina Finlay (NEST Corporation) and Jen McCormick (Warner Leisure Hotels) who joined our panel discussion. Businesses have needed rapid insight to pivot quickly and having these functions integrated enables quicker access to a clearer, consistent voice. Both Christina and Jen recognised this, and together with Walnut Unlimited our teams at agency-side have been able to offer solutions to brands that kept pace with the changing landscape of coronavirus: unifying for harmonious insights.
There are also other complementary reasons for bringing these functions together. One of which comes with the advancement of data science, as techniques such as NLP can be used both to supplement research findings but also enhance them by enabling more complex analysis of open-ended questions.
Within Unlimited we have recognised the above benefits bringing our data analytics capability within Realise Unlimited closer to our sister market research agency, Walnut. We are developing joint propositions, help clients build truly integrated functions and deliver end-to-end human understanding as our Human Understanding Lab. If you want to catch up on or talk about how we can apply these insights for your brand, get in touch!