One of the great things about doing what we do is that we get to speak to lots and lots of people in and around “research”: full-service agencies, operations-focused agencies, client-side brand and organisations, academics, software companies, HR, PR and general consultancies supporting the industry. And the conversation always seems to turn to one subject eventually – what’s the future of the Market Research industry and how do we make sure we can be relevant and be successful.
We don’t even pretend to have the answers to the first part (we mislaid our crystal-ball a few years back in an office-move), but we do see businesses that are doing really well and some that are perhaps finding it tougher. As a result we spot trends and potential principles that might be worth considering. By their nature these are generalised and there are probably lots more, but what the hell, let’s be bold and put them out there!
- Specialisation is good: the full-service and operational agencies that we see doing well and delighting clients are the ones that have a very specific proposition and focus – they have a very clear view of what they do well and they stick to it with laser intensity. They don’t get distracted or pulled into markets they don’t understand or don’t have the skill-set to service. Or because they see other businesses doing things and think – “oh we could do that”.
- Technology is key: we suspect that much of the research value-chain from today will be done by very clever machines within a short space of time. Agencies that have a technological proposition and client-side organisations that embrace tech as a means of generating insight will be the ones that are most successful/ impactful in the future. We thinks building a future-proofed proposition that melds tech insight and human expertise/ experience is a pretty good bet.
- You can never talk too much to your client or stakeholder: the business and people we see who are doing the best, commercially or career-wise are the ones that spend as much time as possible talking to and understanding the people that pay the bills. It’s as true in client-side organisations with their internal clients as it is with agencies. That’s not to say you should not be also focusing on your colleagues and suppliers, but being completely customer-centric is a really fail-safe way of keeping your business or career on track, whatever the developments in the industry.