By virtue of my husband’s role as the Vice President of Emerging Experiences at one of the world’s largest digital agencies, I have the privilege of sitting in the passenger seat to the future. As such, I learn about, and sometimes even try out, much of the new technology coming to the marketplace. My vantage point is a blessing, although I’ll admit that it feels more like a curse when I find a dissected helicopter drone or a pile of Kinect components on my living room floor. I’ll also admit that for all of the time I spend being slapped in the face by my husband’s obsessive technology disorder, I spend very little energy considering how it will impact the marketing research industry that I’ve grown up in and the antiquated research techniques that I learned in graduate school so many years ago. However, I had the opportunity of attending the first day of the CASRO Annual Conference yesterday, and I thought, based on the program, that I would come away with a better understanding of how my husband’s world and my world would intersect in the future. After all, the first day of the conference was filled with words like disruption, change, future, paradigm shifts, etc. One speaker declared “market research as we know it is dead.”
Yet, I came away being reminded of how insular and inward looking our industry, myself included, can really be. The reality is that only one speaker, James McQuivey, VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research even hinted at these new technologies, and not being from the industry himself, he could only introduce us to their capabilities rather than forecast how they might impact us. The fact is that no one was alarmed by what he had to say. Instead, the audience seemed content to discuss the name market research, the role of big data, the Code of Ethics, mobile surveys, etc.
I wanted to jump out of my chair and scream at the top of my lungs – “Stop looking back!” Mobile is here, big data is here, social listening is here. We are not talking about the future. We are talking about the present, and I would say that we did a poor job of anticipating these changes and an even worse job of figuring out where we fit now that they are our current reality.
We need to define where we fit among this ever-changing technology, and that’s where I would like to focus my attention.