Anna Peters

The end of a year is hurtling towards us. Before too much mulled wine clouds our memories, now might be a good time to look back over 2012 and consider some of the changes that have happened to our industry – and ask some questions about what this all means for 2013.

Trend 1 – Rise of the strategic foresight consultancy
In January I wrote an article about the insight industry’s desire to reach BCGs illustrious 4th stage: strategic foresight agencies. As Lenny Murphy highlights in his recent article, the tail-end of this year has shown us that this change really is happening and that “globally scalable” solutions which  allow clients to truly stay close to their consumers are being developed.

He predicts that this trend will accelerate in 2013, with a key driver being the acquisitions technology-based insight solutions into more ‘traditional’ communications conglomerates.

Trend 2 – Beware the expert
Another trend that we’ve seen this year is scepticism towards so called experts. Accelerated by crowdsourcing and co-creation, innovation is becoming an increasingly driven by ‘non-experts.’ One company that has it business built on disproving the expert is Kaggle – a San Francisco based organisation that bills itself as an “online market place for brains.” Speaking recently in The New Scientist, Jeremy Howard, Chief Scientist at Kaggle puts forward a very convincing case for why “specialist knowledge is not only useless” but “actually unhelpful.”

Ignoring the experts isn’t just happening in zany San Fran based tech companies – it’s now common place for FMCG companies to co-create new products.

What does it all mean?
Is this (yet another) blog-post that argues the case for technology revolutionising the face of the market research industry in 2013? Perhaps. But, before we go steam-rolling into the New Year, it might be worthwhile considering the implications of a tech-lead, non-expert driven future:

  • Will technology render ‘old’ techniques increasingly irrelevant, expensive and slow?

OR

  • As technology becomes commoditised and mass produced, will the ‘old’ techniques become an increasingly sought-after craft skill?

And

  • Will having technology natives (and perhaps even ‘non-experts’) at the forefront of the MR industry allow us to innovate quicker, faster and in more interesting ways?

OR

  • Do a few grey-hairs provide the experience, expertise and necessary clout for large organisations to take MR seriously?

Towards true structural change in 2013?
Combined, these two trends could make for a pretty interesting 2013 – and if Leonard’s predictions of more acquisitions is correct, this might even be the year that a true structural shift happens in the market research industry.

Anna Peters is Senior Consultant at Clear

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