Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Exclusive Interview: How Technology is “Perfecting” Market Research

From the collection of data to the curation of insights, technology is disrupting market research at every turn. And, it's new technologies that are driving this significant change. Traditional research just isn’t enough anymore. Brand new ways of working including are requiring that look at research through a different lens. They are enabling us to gather insights in new and exciting ways, but also inundating us with myriad sources of data about users that needs to be synthesized.

Fortunately, this year the producers of The Market Research Event present InsighTech: Innovations in Research Methodology & Technology - an event that covers innovative new ways to deploy mainstream methodologies and presents emerging technology likely to disrupt the industry even further. We recently sat down with our InsighTech keynote speaker Keith Ferrazzi, CEO, Ferrazzi Greenlight to discuss how technology is disrupting market research.

Here’s what Keith had to say:

IIR: How is technology disrupting and transforming market research?

Ferrazzi: Technology isn't disrupting market research, it is perfecting it! What once was survey-based and qualified by outcomes can now be measured in real time. With the advent of digital platforms, we are learning how people behave in an unprecedented manner. This means we now can figure out what images or content actually is working because of click-through and time spent on site, as well as which function of a company's intranet is providing the most value-based on engagement rates. With this data we can easily tweak one variable at a time and see what the results are. 

We are only just beginning to see the possibility of technology and understanding how people interact with the market, but with the inclusion of big data and digital behavior mining, be prepared to see not only marketing but products more finely tuned to our needs and desires.

IIR: How is Ferrazzi Greenlight specifically disrupting market research?

Ferrazzi: One thing we do is we use technology to identify top performers in companies so that we can extract valuable information from them as a way to accrue and curate best practices to train to the larger employee base. We’re crowd-sourcing training to allow each organization we work with devise their own best practices and train to them instead of walking in saying, "Here's what's going to work for you." We may use technology to identity them, but old-fashioned interviews are still the best way to get at how your employees behaviors influence their day-to-day activities. Sometimes you need both old school and new school techniques to be successful.

IIR: How do you sort through the current technology trends to uncover what will eventually change how you do business?

Ferrazzi: I'm lucky in that I have an in-house team developing technologies to help in the corporate space, so I rely on them and their expertise to keep me informed on new products and opportunities. I will never be able to know everything about every line of corporate acceleration/market research, but if I empower the right people and make it a priority that they come to me with anything they uncover in their daily lives, I can be exposed to enough to determine good trends and where I should research further for opportunities.

IIR: In the digital age, what is the new consumer angle at Ferrazzi Greenlight?

Ferrazzi: Same as it's always been, improved experience. What this means now, though, is that we have an ability to hear the consumer through the entire buying cycle. From social media chatter and sentiment analysis to analytics on their website experience, we are able to see how the consumer interacts with a given product/brand. 

IIR: How do you harness the power of social, attitudinal, and behavioral data for deeper consumer insights?

Ferrazzi: This data is gold to any new CEO, sales lead, etc. At the end of the day, you need this data to take your product from being guess work to targeted services tailored to the needs of your consumers. But data will only take you so far. This will always be iterative and a learning process. Just because you see a demand for something doesn't mean you will immediately discover the execution that is desired. You need to find and trust your creativity to express the solution to the data.

IIR: How is gamification affecting market research?

Ferrazzi: Gamification is a hot topic right now. The goal of gamification is to increase engagement with a given product, app, or service. What that really is are incentives. There are some very fascinating discoveries being made about the value and implementation of incentives. You need to choose a rewards model that works best for your given situation and it needs to be unique. So if gamification, leaderboards, badges, etc. work to help your sales team succeed, excellent! But perhaps the reward needs to be more emotional in nature, the more they sell, the more gets donated to the charity of their choice. Both of these "games" could help drive your business outcomes, but it's up to you to determine which works best.

IIR: How is wearable technology affecting market research?

Ferrazzi: Wearable technology is going to be a huge new market research opportunity, but I have found that the vast majority of the data that these toys (Nike fuelbands,  Jawbone Up, the FitBit) are only gathering very basic information limited to the accelerometers weakness of only tracking certain kinds of activity.

You only get a small amount of data. In time though, that data married to other data from other smart devices in your life will allow market research to become unimaginably personalized. Just as a Nest home system learns your patterns and behaviors to know when to turn up or down the heat or turn on or off lights to suite your needs, so too will marketers learn patterns in their audience and better understand what drives or motivates it.

IIR: Where do you see market research technology going in five years?

Ferrazzi: Five years is a huge window to discuss. What I think is the biggest debate that will shape the next five years is the nature of what data we deem should be available to marketers from our interactions with technology. Some argue that all of this should be protected and private. Other argue that if you are using their platform, say a free Instagram account, you trade your personal data for use of a fun photo sharing experience with friends. Depending upon how public sentiment swings, what we learn from people and technology is entirely too big and varied to conceive.

IIR: What is the best innovation in market research that you have seen?

Ferrazzi: It isn't a single program, or application, but rather a creative mind that can look at the data coming from a variety of sources and find the through line. Data by itself is wonderful, but the amount of data we are beginning to receive is overwhelming. It takes a clever human (not technology) to sort through the sea of data to discover the truth behind it. We are not beyond the point where human ingenuity and understanding should be undervalued. Artificial intelligence will always need human intelligence to guide it. So if you want the best market research, find yourself a curious mind and give that person the tools to go explore. 

IIR: How does the Internet of Things drive more meaningful consumer connections?

Ferrazzi: It's still a relatively new concept, but with all the "smart" options of everything from TVs to refrigerators to even vacuum cleaners being introduced on a regular basis, we're no longer being dictated to by manufacturers. There's a more fluid relationship between consumer and producer.  This level of interaction creates an almost dialogue and helps fine tune products to a changing base.

Want to hear more from Ferrazzi? Don’t miss his keynote presentation entitled, “Research Drives the Intersection of Human Relationships and Software in Groundbreaking New Platforms” taking place on Tuesday, May 5th at 9:30 am in San Francisco, CA.

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.

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