Christophe for Council: with a start-up mindset

This is an election statement by Christophe Ovaere, candidate for ESOMAR Council 2017-2018. 


More than 2000 years ago Socrates said “The Secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” I want to help ESOMAR continue building the new! My background in technology has helped me form a plan of action. The two key focuses of my initiatives are as follows:

Start-up mind-set: a forum for innovation and opportunity


In recent years, ESOMAR has made significant efforts to put young researchers in the spotlight – good examples are #YES and the Young Corporate Award. This is a bid to draw in new talent and ensure fresh thinking has a forum – fantastic steps in the right direction, though we need to go further if we want bolder changes. We should expand our focus to include fresh-faced start-ups, or any person or grouping who present big ideas with passion. They too are a source of innovation that could serve as an important catalyst for growth in our industry. We mustn’t rely too heavily on internal growth and innovation from existing players.

*What I would love to work on…

a) “Research’s Got Talent”: a start-up incubator wherein ESOMAR forms a panel of clients, agencies, and research service providers who evaluate submissions from start-ups. Selected participants would be granted mentorship and guidance from ESOMAR members in order to present their pilot at Congress. Unilever Foundry is a great example – they’re already using this model to source innovation. ESOMAR could be a valuable enabler, matching the pool of creators with potential customers, ensuring their ideas are nurtured, shared, and given the opportunities they deserve.

b) ESOMAR’s ‘Wall of Frame’: presented at each conference, this would be a wall with the contact details of nominated start-ups (above). Attached, iPads play their ‘elevator pitches’. This is a non-intrusive and budget-friendly way of giving these companies exposure to the wider community. The ESOMAR website could play host to this content too.

Stronger together: tech – clients – research

Technology companies should no longer be seen as mere suppliers. They are becoming genuine partners in the client-agency relationship, however, there still remains an ‘us versus them’ feel. Living as mere neighbours is detrimental to both sides – we should actively and wholeheartedly welcome ‘new-age’ providers into our realm, relaying to them our energetic past, teaching them our most effective methodologies, and explaining our core beliefs. We’ve all a lot to learn.
During the Technology workshop at ESOMAR congress, a participant asked, ‘Why do we need to know all this stuff?’ Another was quick to answer: ‘Because we cannot afford not to!’
Whether we like it or not, these conversations are happening. We can chose to look away and be ‘out’, or we can choose to take an interest – and be ‘in’. Only then can we help steer our expertise towards data science and analytics.

I would work with the ESOMAR Council to ensure we can create tailored opportunities for learning and inspiration, from a tech perspective:

  • Newsletter tech section – featuring tech updates relevant to the research industry and an annual survey of research agency CTO’s, informing us of challenges, accomplishments, and innovations.
  • Tech-in-Research (TIR) group – an association where all developers, data scientists, and CTO’s can interact as a valued and empowered group within our industry (an ‘IN-sider’).
  • Tech track at ESOMAR Congress – a mix of workshops (base coding classes, mini hackathons, etc) and presentations (Google on text analytics or Facebook on sentiment analysis), together with a Technology Innovation Prize at Congress as a signal that we want to reward the best use of tech in research.

By bridging the worlds of tech and research through open dialogue, I believe I could bring further strength and greater value to ESOMAR with a discernible impact for all of its members.
I hope you will trust me with your vote for Council Member of ESOMAR.