The Effects of Digital Transformation on the Insights Industry

Technology and commercialisation have been a global catalyst for change, but with change comes a whole host of challenges and opportunities all industries have to adapt to. Digital transformation is about using this technology to solve problems, transforming processes and policies to evolve into a better functioning organisation and industry.

Digital transformation affects all industries, so as all other businesses and industries evolve, so must we. The insights industry has come a long way, integrating a variety of technologies into our processes in order to evolve into an industry that provides data and insights to other industries working through problems and challenges.

Digital transformation effects all industries which results in a global evolution. As the insights industry responds to the needs of other industries, our evolution reflects the challenges of technological integration.

Digital transformation effects all industries which results in a global evolution. As the insights industry responds to the needs of other industries, our evolution reflects the challenges of technological integration.

Effect 1: Fast-Paced Just Got Faster

Put very simply, the purpose of market research is to provide actionable insights at the speed of business; but with integrated technological processes and the move to online research, the speed of business is now lightning fast. With traditional data collection and analysis methods not able to keep up, the insights we initially generated lost their relevance and value just as they hit the stakeholder’s desk.

Unfortunately, nothing is relevant for long in our fast-paced, technology-driven society. With the longest running consumer trends running for years at the most and a few months at the least. The insights industry had to evolve in order to keep up and retain value. Embracing digital transformation came in the form of new technology-based methodologies and analytical processes for market research.

With these new methods and processes, online software and automation has enabled insight professionals to speed up research projects, dramatically decreasing timescales and increasing research capacity and proficiency. These new methodologies were borne out of a need for diverse research tasks to attract keep research participants as more research is conducted, and has resulted in methodologies derived from behavioural science, virtual reality, bioscience studies, and a many more!

The one aspect of the insight industry that digital hasn’t yet transformed is the reporting methods available. We’re still creating pages and pages of written reports each day, filled with the data and insights we’ve generated, only for our audience to skim read or easily forget key data after their done. This is something we’re striving to change. Insights and data are inherently interesting and have great potential to further transform entire industries, but not unless it’s relevant and presented in a way that engages the attention of key stakeholders.

Effect 2: Boundless Communication

Through technology, we have eradicated transcontinental barriers. We can communicate seamlessly with someone on the other side of the world with just a few taps/clicks of a button, and this has had huge ramifications.

One ramification is that the world suddenly seems smaller. Globally, we are now creating thousands of online communities on different platforms and are used to communicating instantly with other people no matter the distance, so the world is suddenly a much more connected place. In market research, we can use this to communicate with both clients and participants at the drop of a hat, generating and sharing high-quality data and insights within hours of commission. We have also started to use those consumer-created communities as an extra resource for passive data collection, observing consumer trends as and when they happen in an organic environment and bolstering our insights with extra informative data.

Another ramification is that we are able to engage more participants than ever in many research projects all at the same time. The more traditional face-to-face research we conducted in qualitative focus groups was limited to geographical and time-based boundaries, being subject to where the research was taking place and what time the nearest participants were available to take part. While enticing participants might have become harder, we are able to send a myriad of different research tasks, from online gamified surveys to eye tracking UX studies, as well as whatever incentives we might offer all through technology from our own digital transformation efforts.

Both of these ramifications and effects are indicative of the power we are starting to wield with purpose with unlimited access to consumer-participants and the power to transform experiences for all insight professionals, businesses, and participants.

Effect 3: Transforms Market Research Experience

Transforming experiences for all three of those groups isn’t easy, but with the aid of insights we have found ways to evolve and engage all three no matter what other challenges may present themselves.

Employee and participant experiences are both transforming at the same rate, becoming personalised and intriguing to better engage each audience in the research and insights through the power of digital transformation; but now insight professionals have the challenge of learning new skills, attitudes, and behaviours in order to keep up with our rapidly expanding arsenal of methodologies, moderation tricks, analytical and reporting processes.

Obviously, these skills will depend on the specialisation you choose, and the tools available to you, however, a few new skills to keep up with could include gamification techniques for more engaging research tasks across the board, basic coding for any website or tool issues, good knowledge of social media platforms so you can tell where the best external data would be, image/video editing skills for better insight visualisation, and storytelling and critical thinking for insight generation and reporting. There are obviously a lot more skills, such as digital ethnography and understanding mobile-first research, that could drastically increase your chances of becoming a talented insight professional in a rapidly evolving field of study.

Digital transformation beings a myriad of new opportunities for us to evolve alongside the rest of the world, and learn new skills/experiences to diversify our offering and generate new insights.

Given the amount of new skills and behaviours researchers should aspire to understand if not adopt, would it be better to try and gain a broader understanding of them all, or an in-depth understanding of a specific few? Of course, there is no one right answer. Specialising in a part of research would establish you as an authority in that part of the market research field, however, attaining a broad knowledge of all skills could set you up as a good all-rounder who can slide in and out of tasks easily.

Insightful Evolution

The industry of market research and the professionals who reside within it are at the mercy of the businesses and consumers around us. When other industries change around us, we must adapt to provide engaging, valuable insights relevant to their situation at that time. When consumers change, we must find new ways of delivering research to ensure the return of accurate and rich data for that valuable insight generation.

All industries and consumers are in the power of technological catalysts, but the digital transformation that comes with it is nothing to fear. It brings new opportunities for us to evolve alongside the rest of the world and take advantage of the new skills and experiences to diversify our offering and generate new insights.

This blog was originally published on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.



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FlexMR is The Insights Empowerment Company. We help brands to act decisively, stay close to customers and embed agile insight at the heart of every decision.