When we talk about stakeholders in the insights industry, we typically mean, anyone who has a stake in the research itself. This is usually department managers, and anyone else who needs those specific insights for a project — i.e. only a small percentage of insights reach the c-suite officers, so the ones that do need to engage them thoroughly in order to make a difference.
Their time is bound up in countless meetings, so when we do need to engage the c-suite audience it needs to be on their time, and that can be very hard. However, there are ways to break through the noise and gain the full attention of a c-suite audience.
Technological Innovation in Research
Technology is at the centre of every digital innovation, continuing to chance the world, and as such it commands the attention of global titans and small businesses alike.
Technology is at the centre of every global innovation and greatly influences the non-technological innovations too — as such it commands global attention. How can we use this to help researchers get a c-suite audience?
In the research industry, technological innovation has revolutionised all areas of the research process, from sampling and recruitment all the way through to insight generation and reporting. But the areas that have received the most attention from technology and innovation are the data collection and analysis areas. Not twenty years ago, market research data collection methods fell solely within the traditional qualitative and quantitative categories, but with the advent and commercialisation of computers, smartphones, and all things technological, we there has been a boom of research methods, the concepts of which have been drawn from a variety of difference science research studies:
Virtual and Augmented Reality are two very up and coming research methods that allow participants to immerse themselves in environments and thus promotes action-based data collection rather than logically-reasoned data from methods such as surveys. This type of technology is great for product testing, shopper behaviour, and customer experience research. Eye-tracking technology is revolutionising user experience (UX) research. Through tracking consumer vision, we can see where they look to first, what they see, and turn that data into a heat-map of insights ready to transform websites, in-store experiences, and specific adverts into a more efficient and attractive design.
However, this isn’t to say that the more traditional research methods haven’t been left out with many online research platforms dedicating their efforts to transforming research methods such as surveys, focus groups, and much more for online application. In this adaptation, we have been able to experiment and refine those research methods to overcome the inevitable array of issues that translating offline methodologies to online brings: sampling and recruitment, for example, are mired with bots and professional participants, who will harm the quality of your data; data collection methods have been the same for many years, so creativity is needed to liven things up a bit and engage participants so they actively want to provide the best-quality data you could possibly ask for. Gamification and behavioural science techniques have been employed in the creation of online research software for methods like surveys and focus groups to innovate these methods down to their very bones.
Online research has brought dedicated online communities, dedicated online research panels, dedicated online research tools, all ready and waiting for a researcher’s attention. The best online research platforms, such as the InsightHub, will allow you to customise your own research experience according to your research needs, and look help you generate insights as easily as possible. But those are all innovated active data collection methods; there are ready-made online communities all over the internet in the form of social media platforms. Social media insights are just as valuable as those from dedicated research platforms, however they will be fundamentally different, and should be used in conjunction with and to support the insights generated from other methods too.
While technology is a major catalyst, it also sparks non-technological innovation as a by-product. One of the biggest non-technological innovation that has transformed the insights industry is the incorporation of wider science-based research methods into our arsenal. With studies such as behavioural science, behavioural economics, psychology, user experience, design thinking, neuroscience, data science, etc. remoulding the insights industry so we can better understand and engage consumers. But with these new research methods, comes new skills, both soft and hard, that researchers need to learn.
Market research is growing daily, with new agencies, new teams, and new methodologies being brought to the table. When the industry first came into it’s own, you could be a quanty or a qually, depending on your affinity for numerical or linguistic data — but it’s not so simple now. The new skills that researchers might be required to learn vary, and a working knowledge of human behaviour, statistical analysis, linguistic analysis, computer programming, and even business strategy is becoming increasingly essential if insight professionals are to be useful to as many different requirements as possible.
Those who have a broadened their skillset, become jack-of-all-trades if you will, stand the best chance of being able to transition from one project to another, no matter what techniques are used. But once researchers become specialists, they begin to form a reputation for themselves as an authority in their field, to which people will start to seek their advice on. These specialisms occur after a base knowledge has formed and entirely depends on which agency researchers choose to learn their trade from.
However, all of the skills mentioned so far are focussed on data collection methodologies. There are non-technological innovations in other areas of the research process, such as the reporting stage that have flowered in the face of adversity. Storytelling for example is one of the best non-technological innovations to grace the reporting process, allowing the insights formed to tell the true story of any given situation in a way that people will actually listen to. This is one of the more prominent psychological tricks that researchers everywhere are starting to implement with a passion, injecting creativity into insight reports for the best chance of insight activation.
Engaging C-Suite audiences on their own time can be tough, but tech and innovation have revolutionised the insights industry, allowing us to generate and communicate truly actionable insights quicker and more effectively.
Innovation through Artistic Insights
Reporting innovation is one area where we are able to blend technological and non-technological insights for the betterment of stakeholder engagement, combining the best aspects of both mediums. One of the ways in which we’re experimenting with this is with our Insight as Art campaign.
In this campaign, we’re using online question boards to create digital insights, but using the physical medium of art to tell the story of insights on many different levels. We talked in one blog about making digital insights engaging for stakeholders through authenticity and tangibility, which is very achievable through transforming insights into artworks. Translating tangible, authentic insights into artworks can be hard, but with a bit of creativity (another soft skill that researchers should form) then we can make insights as engaging as stories and puzzles, inciting and maintaining stakeholder engagement until the very end.
This article was originally published on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.