Kyle Nel

The Insights and Innovation Exchange Conference has been in a word, fantastic.

Why you may ask?

Instead of providing a blow-by-blow replay of the conference speakers, which has already been thoroughly and thoughtfully covered in detail here, here, and here, I have opted to talk about the aspects of IIEX that I believe made it so impactful.

Focus on innovation:
“Invention is a collaborative pursuit. The Beatles were invented together. Consumers are great inventors.” —Charles Trevail, CEO of Promise Communities

At IIEX there was an overt focus on innovation. Innovation was a common theme throughout the three days, but it was more than just lip service—everyone there seemed hungry to try new things and think differently. There was innovation for everyone: supplier, client side, academic and investor alike.

Some of my favorites were:

  • RIWI– finally, an actual new and novel way of collecting respondent data across the world (even in notoriously hard to reach countries like Egypt.)  It is so cool even the World Bank is using it.
  • RawData– panel technology that connects the researcher with real people in real time. Track media consumption, ask questions, get smarter. This could revolutionise the media research world.
  •– Cool dynamic social media segmentation tools that make it easier to make use of all of this social media stuff.
  • Videntifier– an exciting tool, that is currently being used for police forensics, which can quickly and accurately code video files. This takes a grueling manual process and automates it.  Better, faster, cheaper.

For a more complete overview of the innovative ideas and companies at IIEX please see this article in Research.

Spotlight and incubation of startup companies/services:
“Data is valuable when you have it, but there is other data that is more valuable when other people have it. Last week we intercepted 7,000 people in China to map the spread of flu. We know more and more about things: as insight groups we can have a big impact.” —Eric Meerkamper of RIWI

IIEX had an innovation competition for new startups. These companies, or prospective companies, pitched their ideas to panel of judges and to the conference attendees in short presentations. This was a very effective way for new ideas and vendors to get their ideas out and for us to see new and interesting solutions in a very time efficient format.

Additionally, there were speed-dating sessions for new innovative companies and buyers of research. That was extremely helpful for me as I was able to vet many companies in a very shot period of time. I have left with a number of great contacts and new ideas as a direct result.

RIWI and Raw Data won first and second place respectively in the innovation competition. They are great examples of non-research companies coming into the industry and creating new and fantastic solutions for MR. For full description please see this great post from Jeffery Henning

Space for collaboration:
“Data philanthropy is the path that data takes from information to knowledge to wisdom. We need knowledge to make decisions: sitting alone in a vacuum we will not be able to answer these very difficult social questions. These are very complex situations, so a variety of data sets are needed for innovation.” —Robert Foster, Executive Director of the innovative cross sector non-for-profit Accelerating Market-driven Partnerships (AMP).

IIEX was a perfect space for collaboration. All too often conferences are a stage for the orthodoxy to reassert itself and, either overtly or covertly, stifle new collaboration as that would bring down the infrastructure (and profitability) of the old guard. IIEX continuously and systematically placed emphasis and provided opportunities for collaboration and meaningful discussion. One example of this was a series of speakers and a panel on data philanthropy and uncommon collaboration (full disclosure: I spoke on this topic. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included a snapshot). I have been to many conferences and never have I seen the topic of data philanthropy covered. This is something that’s been talked about in the press but only now is it popping up in conferences. This is just the beginning of exploring how we—the research industry and the organisations we represent—can use the tools we’ve honed for business for the common good.

kyle-nel-presentingIn my talk I spoke about my experience creating and working with non-traditional collaborative groups to achieve bigger things than any member of the group could achieve alone. My contention is we can do more with diverse partnerships. In the near future, uncommon partnerships (not methodology) will be the competitive advantage. We all need to get out of our silos—take chances and do more.

As you might be able to tell, I am a fan of IIEX. I think other conferences are making strides in the areas I outlined above, but none I have attended have taken it to this level. My hope is that this will be a starting point for the MR industry to truly think differently and become the provocateurs and leaders we ought to be.

kyleKyle Nel is Head of International and Multicultural Research for Lowe’s Home Improvement in USA