By Finn Raben
Firstly, a BIG thank you to Judith Passingham CEO, Ipsos Interactive Services (Global), Ipsos, UK, Eric Meerkamper President of RIWI, Canada and last but by no means least, Knut Asrud CEO of Norstat, Norway – who joined me to try and define what the next generation of research agency would look like! My thanks too, to all of you who were on the webinar, and your questions…some of which have hopefully been captured below.
I found this a fascinating discussion, and in many ways, highlighted a lot more questions than we had time to discuss. That said, I did come away from our discussion with four themes that I think are worth bearing in mind, as well as a fifth point that is consistent with the discussion we had a month ago on the next generation of researcher…..
- Reports about the death of data collection are wildly exaggerated.
One of the more interesting themes we hear quite regularly these days, is that data collection is “dead”, the theory being that because everyone can produce information, data collection is no longer necessary.
I think this discussion proved that this proposition is pretty groundless, as no matter what data you access, curate or analyse, the data will still have to have been “collected” at some point, and in that collection process, there are “good” ways of doing it, and “not so good” ways of doing it…the key is being able to understand what methodology (and thus what data) is “fit for purpose” for the project at hand.
The more interesting point was that everyone was of the opinion that data collection is no longer a linear process, and it now MUST be a device agnostic process – particularly as we see technology advance at an ever-increasing rate.
- Rigour more important than ever
Following on from that point was again, the consensus view that “more” data doesn’t automatically mean “better” data, and that “big” data doesn’t mean “complete” data.
Indeed, in this era of data proliferation, “rigour” is actually more important than ever before, as we do need to be able to determine “provenance”, as well as “quality”, so that we use the right data to support our project and not just all data.
Some time ago, ESOMAR started to communicate the concept of “smart data” as opposed to “big data” – i.e. determining that information which is pertinent to the question in hand, rather than just the entire data set. In this process, the researcher’s skill in being able to determine provenance, quality and relevance are second to none – and will remain a key feature of the research agency of the future.
- Proprietary intelligence is essential
On the basis of having the skill to determine the quality, provenance and relevance of information, the panel were also agreed that the research agency is best placed to compete on data knowledge & intelligence….but equally acknowledged that not all do so.
The view was expressed that if research agencies are just seen as service providers, then our perceived value will decline further….we do need to include some form of proprietary intelligence into our work, to distinguish ourselves from just a commodity information provider.
This does NOT necessarily mean “black box” technology – as we have seen that a lack of transparency does not sit well with clients or users – but rather suggests that we need to include a greater element of opinion, or commentary, which acknowledges our breadth and depth of experience in assessing and applying insights from data.
Some years ago, prior to the acquisition by WPP, TNS had a series of corporate exhortations, one of which was (and I paraphrase), Be Brave – express an opinion….I think this is more true now than ever before.
- The market WILL punish mediocrity.
The threat of commodity – and thus mediocrity – is lethal.
If you cannot discuss provenance and relevance, if you cannot express an opinion based on the evidence, and if you cannot substantiate either a question or an answer, then we become a commodity service… to be selected simply on price, and to suffer from continuing “cost-efficiency” pressures.
- We must shout louder about what we do…
As we discussed in our last webinar, we do not do enough to communicate the quality of our work, or the value of what we bring. Yes, we make mistakes – but so does every company.
To quote from the film “Rocky” : “it is not about how many times you can get knocked down, rather it is about how you get up each time”.
There were lots of other themes that we touched upon, including D.I.Y., data science, the disintermediation of elements of the research process, etc etc….I can’t cover them all here, but rest assured we will get to those, in the coming sessions!! In the meantime, I look forward to your thoughts on these themes..
Thanks again to everyone who participated in this discussion…I can’t wait for the next one, and what it will put forward!!
A reminder for your diary:
The future of market research webinar series- The Client vision
Finn Raben is Director General at ESOMAR.
Ahead of the European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association (EphMRA)‘s flagship Business Intelligence/Analysis Conference in Frankfurt, Germany, held June 21st – 23rd 2016, EphMRA President Thomas Hein, outlines the latest trends changing the day-to-day lives of healthcare researchers.
By Thomas Hein
Market research is an essential activity for all healthcare companies.
It provides the unbiased, independent voice of the customer to the healthcare companies and, therefore, has to follow several regulations especially with regard to data privacy.
Used to guide decisions in several areas of the business from identification of unmet customer needs, development of product portfolio, communication strategies, awareness and utilisation of products, just to mention a few, its imperative all companies keep up to speed with what is an ever-changing market research landscape.
These exciting and fast-paced changes also have an impact on researcher activities as professionals, across both companies and agencies, must always be aware of the newest trends, anticipate the needs of their customers and address them with the best methodologies.
The vision of EphMRA is creating excellence in professional standards and practices to enable healthcare market researchers to become highly valued business partners.
The role of the market researcher in this sector has evolved over the last 10 years from a data analyst providing information towards a customer and markets insights expert providing decision support.
There are several key trends currently impacting the healthcare industry which market researchers have to be aware of and address them appropriately.
A holistic patient focused approach
For pharmaceutical companies, one of these trends is patient centricity which is becoming a core strategy as companies are aware that the patient is more and more involved in the decision making process about healthcare services and the prescription of drugs.
A patient focused market research approach with a holistic view of the patient, (rather than looking at one disease state and its treatment) requires different methods compared to conducting research with healthcare professionals.
Very often market researchers do not have an understanding of the patient and their role as they do not have direct contact with patients. Market researchers have to provide the patient perspective to the company and recommend patient oriented strategies to the companies.
In traditional ethnographic research, a patient is followed daily for hours during their day-to-day life and observed on key topics. Questions are asked within the observed situation to gain a deeper understanding about attitudes and motivation.
Now, new technologies will make this method -which is conducted more and more in recent years,-less cost intensive and even more observational eliminating nearly completely the interviewer influence.
One of the stand-out new technologies now available is Google Glass which allows researchers to see the world through the patient’s eyes.
Usage of such a technology has to be explored, and the first agencies are now embracing it. Additional technology is already available via smart phones. Patients can make audio and video recordings either ‘in the moment ‘or after it, like after a physician visit.
This leads to another important trend for the future, mobile health – which is the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices.
Mobile health applications include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vital signs, collection of personal health related data by consumers including patients and direct provision of care.
This leads to a huge amount of data which has not previously been available. If patients start to collect data on their lifestyle, disease state, physicians visits, dietary and reasons for decisions it will allow the holistic view on a patient with all healthcare related aspects which has not been available so far.
Mobile health will also change the way healthcare companies are communicating with their customers, especially healthcare professionals and patients.
The various digital channels currently available have different advantages and disadvantages compared to the traditional model of sales representatives visiting healthcare professionals. The communication tools will get more interactive and will allow healthcare professionals to receive the information they need at the point in time they need it.
Data privacy and security
With all the data available and more patient level data generated by primary market research the topic of data privacy and security becomes increasingly important.
For Europe, the fundamental right to the protection of personal data is already explicitly recognised in Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. There are special regulations around the processing of health data.
Similar regulations exist for other geographies, and this has implications for primary market research as well as for the analysis of patient level healthcare data.
EphMRA is in continuous contact with the respective authorities to explain the nature of market research and for which objectives data is used, and informs its members about changes in regulations in Europe as well as other major geographies to ensure the companies and agencies are compliant.
Several of the topics mentioned above and the implications for market research will be addressed at the EphMRA Business Intelligence/Analysis Conference in Frankfurt, Germany from June 21st – 23rd 2016.
Registration is open now for the industry leading event. For full details visit www.ephmraconference.org
Thomas Hein is President of EphMRA and Global Director Customer Insights and Strategy Immunodiagnostics, Thermo Fisher Scientific
EphMRA (European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association) strives to create excellence in professional standards and practices to enable healthcare market researchers to become highly valued business partners.
An intro to the team behind our new series on memory bias in market research, the challenges it poses and potential solutions.