Photos by Pixabay
by Crispin Beale, CEO, Insight250
Whether we like it or not, we are currently in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. It’s a time period with tremendous potential and uncertainty related to this burgeoning technology. While there is tremendous negativity and concern mounting around artificial intelligence, there are also growing opportunities to advance research and insights. In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I spoke with insight leaders worldwide on the dimensions of AI that they are encouraged by or even love at this early stage of the Age of AI. So, I posed a simple question to these leaders and innovators: what are the dimensions that they are bullish on, excited for, and generally “love” when it comes to AI?
Ben Page, CEO, IPSOS, France
“We love AI because it is rapidly showing us how to get great work done faster and gives us more time to think.”
Kristin Luck, Founder WIRe, Scalehouse, Growgetter, Ex-Officio President, ESOMAR
“I know many researchers have already long been screaming about the dangers of AI, and I will admit that, as someone who has spent the majority of their career building marketing/research tech solutions, I am generally "meh" on most of the new tech solutions that many in this sector get giddy over. Remember Google Glass? More recently, it was everything blockchain, then NFTs, then research in the metaverse.....insert about 20 other tech “showstoppers” that have come and (mostly) gone and failed to even augment traditional research methods. “But AI-driven synthetic data/virtual audiences...I'm bullish on it. It's making ME giddy. Without turning this post into (as marketing professor Mark Ritson says) "future porn", the implications for marketers, researchers, brand managers,s and media planners are real. “There are valid questions and concerns, of course, as there are with any new method. How reliable is the data? What are the sources? How can we be sure the data (which could be considered secondary in nature) is reflective of current consumer tastes? These and many other points are being made both for and against these AI-generated data sets. But most seem to confirm rather than contradict the potential impact of synthetic data in the long run. “In the sage words of Naomi Campbell, "I'm here for it."
Nick Graham, Global Head of Insights & Analytics, Mondelēz International, USA
“It feels like an unconventional opinion these days… but I’m genuinely excited about AI’s potential to revolutionize the insights & analytics industry. First and foremost, it should liberate us from a lot of the manual heavy lifting that sucks up our bandwidth today…drafting surveys and reports, processing data, running standardized research & analysis, synthesizing learnings, and mining our existing data stack for answers. “With the advent of GenAI it should also transform our ability to develop new ideas, uncover hidden patterns, and predict consumer responses in ways that are impossible today. We do, of course, need to commit to using AI smartly and responsibly… but I’m confident that we will end up falling in love with what AI unlocks for us, freeing our teams to spend more time on all the things that the machine can’t do”
Urpi Torrado, CEO Datum Internacional, Peru
“Love the infinite possibilities that emerge behind AI. It has boosted our curiosity which gives us the opportunity to explore, learn, and train our teams so that our clients and markets can benefit. As researchers, we can spend more time on our passion, human understanding, and expanding knowledge.” Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder & Executive Chairman, S4 Capital plc, UK “That it will revolutionise visualisation and copywriting, hyper-personalisation at scale, media planning and buying, increase client and agency efficiency and, finally, give access to information to all.”
Diego Casaravilla, Founder, Fine, Argentina
“Relationships with AI in some way can mimic romantic ones —exasperating yet enchanting. You hate your partner (and AI) when just tells you what to do, but you love AI (and your twin soul) when it takes your own feelings and ideas and pushes them beyond limits." Prof Paul Baines, Deputy Dean, University of Leicester, UK “I love the possibilities that AI offers to insight professionals: the opportunity to forecast customer behaviour more accurately; predict trends in the market environment; help optimise marketing mix strategies; communicate more persuasively and effectively to customers; forecast supply and demand more accurately to help fulfill customer orders; develop better, more accurate and complex segmentation models; optimise prices and pricing; and predict improvements in product and service offerings. And that’s just what we know it can do. Imagine what it knows it can do if only we ask the right questions!”
Seyi Adeoye, CEO, Pierrine Consulting, Nigeria
"There are few interesting early wins for artificial intelligence already. We’ve seen AI leveraged via chatbots to conduct surveys, analyze data and moderate sessions using conversational algorithms thus opening up access to consumer perspectives beyond traditional groups. Another obvious win is the enhanced predictive analytics capabilities that AI facilitates; while traversing massive swaths of structured and unstructured data and enabling insight practitioners to identify patterns albeit not easily possible before now. We have also seen AI ramp up features within the social media listening space via the availability of AI-powered image and video analysis tools, thus improving the depth of analysis possible."
Dr Nick Baker, Savanta, UK
“AI-driven Market Research tools are already - and will only become more - important accelerators for our industry. They offer an opportunity to take evidence and data-driven strategy to unprecedented new places and our chance to elevate and amplify the importance of our voice in commercial and public sector decision-making circles. Crucial success will be about embracing the combined strengths of both human creativity and machine intelligence to create a competitive advantage now and in the future. But beware, there is a Darwinian backdrop, as what today is a potential competitive advantage will tomorrow be a basic hygiene factor requirement for our industry if you don't want to become the proverbial Dodo.”
Dan Foreman, Latana; Zappi; Bakamo; Mediaprobe; Veylinx; Phebi; VST; Empower; Incivus; hatted, UK
“In the grand dance of technology, amidst the concerns waltzing around artificial intelligence, let's pirouette into the loveable dimensions of AI on this Valentine's Day. Picture AI as a charming partner, quick to twirl away the mundane, leaving you to focus on the more enchanting aspects of life. It's like a digital Cupid, aiming its algorithmic arrow at inefficiencies and orchestrating a symphony of innovation. The flirtation lies in the dance of collaboration, where humans and AI tango together, each complementing the other's moves. So, here's to a love affair with AI, where sparks of creativity fly and data-driven discoveries waltz into our hearts, making this Age of AI a captivating ballroom of possibilities!”
Prof. Dr. Hans-Willi Schroiff, University of Cologne, Germany
“My work involves theory, processes, and tools that enable companies to launch new products or services that truly captivate consumers. Insights are the indispensable foundation of any form of innovation process. Admittedly, AI has been quite supportive in summarizing insights in a general format. AI might not be the most effective means of achieving this goal, as they are often based on declarative knowledge and past insights. However, the creative core of innovation activities tends to be deeply human, emotional, and sometimes even irrational. Capturing the emotional vibes and dynamics of a focus group via a computational algorithm is challenging. All in all, I would not recommend relying on AI in the creative step.”
Ryan Barry, President, Zappi, USA
“I am generally not one to jump on tech fads early. I care more about the jobs they do and the problems they solve, which is why I LOVE AI for the insights industry. With clean consumer data + AI, we can finally scale the best thinking in the world through prompts and make it accessible across our organizations, customers, and industry. This unlock, paired with continuous new learning, will enable businesses to get their best-of-breed thinking accessible to their entire org to enable people to keep pushing new ideas for consumer-centric growth.”
Alex Hunt, CEO, Behaviorally, USA
“AI gives us the ability to unlock the true value of the data we already own. It also gives us an opportunity, at last, to conduct consumer insight work at the speed and scale of digital commerce. Perhaps if we love it enough, it’ll mean commercial stakeholders will finally love the insights we provide!”
Christian Niederauer, Global Head of Insights, Colgate-Palmolive, Switzerland
“Valentine’s Day is about celebrating relationships, and I am convinced that the rather new relationship between AI and HI (Human Intelligence) will last a lifetime. Already now, we can see that the real magic happens when you bring both together: AI brings speed, efficiency, and scale, while human expertise adds context, creativity, and strategic thinking. “In addition to the synergistic potential of this AI-HI collaboration in areas like innovation development, I am particularly encouraged by the opportunities AI presents in knowledge management. Its robust capabilities in handling and interpreting complex datasets are revolutionizing how we manage and leverage information, allowing us to make insights even more accessible and actionable. “Overall, I love that (generative) AI is not just another tool, but more a partner in our journey towards a deeper as well as a more nuanced understanding of consumer behavior, ultimately leading to better insights for more informed decision-making and strategies.”
Mark Langsfeld, CEO, mTab, USA
“We're embracing AI as a tool to help validate or expound on market research concepts and insight approaches for both mTab and our clients. We see AI as a supplement to add intriguing dimensions to the ideas and tactics we develop. While we see humans remaining the key driver of our strategies, AI is serving as a strong tactical tool.”
Katie O’Conner, Research & Partnerships Director, Bounce Insights, Ireland
“I love market research because, at its core, it’s about understanding people. What I love about AI is that it can help us understand people more deeply and share our understanding more broadly. In practice, I love that AI is already making it faster and more cost-effective to run research by creating efficiencies throughout the process. AI maps business questions to research questions to rapidly design surveys. It analyzes complex datasets to answer questions and surface insights that might have been previously missed. This includes greater power to analyze text, audio, and visual data, which means we can ask more open questions, elicit more revealing and nuanced responses, and, ultimately, understand people more deeply. As we expand our use of AI in market research, we’ll spread the understanding and, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, spread the love.”
Jean-Marc Léger, President / CEO, Leger, Canada
“ChatGPT-4 fueled my love for market research. This powerful tool guides me to generate the magic idea that will transform my clients’ business.”
Reed Cundiff, CEO, Sago, USA
“Even this early stage of AI has tremendous transformative power for our industry, especially in significantly boosting the efficiency of our existing supply chain, enhancing and improving user experiences, and dramatically amplifying insights from research. “I love being able to take a time-consuming, highly variable process like theme generation from a breadth of qualitative data and have human-supervised machines make quick, consistent, high-quality work of it. “I love the possibility of net new offers to clients like virtual responses and respondents that measure speed-to-insight in minutes and hours rather than days and weeks. In short, the potential to streamline processes, better understand our customers, and predict market trends is a tangible reality that's reshaping our approach to business.”
Dr. Roland Abold, Managing Director Infratest dimap, Germany
“In 2024, market and social research will fall in love with AI, as it presents unprecedented opportunities. AI algorithms can provide swift real-time data processing and identify patterns in vast datasets. By unveiling nuanced insights, AI enables hyper-personalized tactical recommendations. In times of a growing shortage of skilled workers, the efficiency gains from AI will streamline research processes, allowing researchers to focus on creative tasks and strategic analysis. Ultimately, AI has a transformative potential to bring market research to the next level, enhancing capabilities and speed, thereby empowering businesses to adapt swiftly to dynamic market landscapes and gain a competitive edge.”
Lisa Wilding-Brown, Chief Executive Officer, innovateMR, USA
“As AI becomes increasingly impactful, I aim to cultivate the love story between its capabilities and our needs, always reinforcing safeguards against any potential risks. By tapping into AI's strengths, we can enhance efficiencies and elevate quality. This includes, but is not limited to, summarizing open-ended responses to pinpoint key themes and feelings, helping businesses understand what's crucial. “At InnovateMR, we employ our Text Analyzer® tool to clean these responses in real-time, filtering out non-contextual or repetitive answers and identifying copied content to enhance data quality. By integrating AI into market research, we're witnessing a significant shift, opening doors to innovative methods and insights that redefine industries. My goal is to harness AI's power responsibly, ensuring quality remains at the forefront. At InnovateMR + Ivy Exec, our commitment lies in steering this advancement, optimizing the benefits of AI, while always valuing and preserving the essential element of human touch.”
Danny Russell, Strategic Advisor, DRC, UK
“Increased speed and efficiency of data analysis saves time. This time can then be spent more productively elsewhere or lessen the project cost. No one is going to argue against that! Let’s not forget, from a respondent perspective, that AI can make questionnaire completion SO much more engaging. By enabling follow-up questions to be related to what the respondent has already provided, respondent fatigue and boredom are dramatically reduced.”
Justine Clements, Consumer Insights Manager, Samsung, Australia
“I am encouraged to see in our most recent national survey that most Australian customers already use at least one if not many more features that leverage AI technology(1), and consumers think of these features as ‘smart’ features (most commonly digital navigation, personalised recommendations for content, facial recognition, or virtual / voice assistants). We also see that despite some reservations, mainly driven by the lack of information, and most consumers are anticipating improvements in efficiency, more personalised experiences, and innovation leading to a better life as a result of AI embedded technology (2).” - Sources: 1) Omnibus Survey n=1000 Australian over 18 yrs Dec 2023 2) Regional Survey Gen pop 18-60yrs Dec 2023”
Matt Hay, Founder & CEO, Bulbshare, UK
“In the 2020s, brands have had a taste of how quickly markets can shift. If your research study takes a fortnight to produce, the data may be obsolete by the time you serve it up. “The future of insight, therefore, is knowledge delivered in real-time through AI interfaces. Do you want to launch a study? The co-pilot handles the heavy lifting. You ask a question. The oracle responds. “Deeper analysis, predicting future behaviours, and probing with conversational AI become very real possibilities. So long as we know how to wield it, not yield to it, AI will open as many doors as it may close. Tom Fishburne puts it well: "We’re in an “AI Tidal Wave” moment. In all the hype and hyperbole [...] no one really knows the impact on work, business, creativity, and our lives. But we’re all [...] dreaming of what could be." As insight leaders, it’s now our job to stop imagining and start discovering. To be wary of its threats but driven by its opportunities. With AI-enabled insights at our disposal, we no longer have to dream of what could be: we may, in fact, have the tools to find out.”
Victoria Usher, CEO, GingerMay, UK
“One of the main benefits of AI is to reduce menial or repetitive tasks - and in the PR industry, this is already coming to fruition. “Our success in securing and sustaining media relations is built as much on the ability to track industry trends as it is on relationship building. “AI allows PR consultancies to sift through vast amounts of industry data – be that audience preferences, behaviours, or emergent trends – at a previously unattainable scale and speed. This enables consultancies to more effectively reach the right audiences with the correct messaging for maximum engagement.”
Mariela Mociulsky, CEO, trendsity, Argentina
“Artificial Intelligence profoundly shapes market research by articulating information on emerging trends through advanced data analysis and machine learning. This empowers businesses with strategic insights and enhances audience segmentation for tailored consumer experiences. “Automation streamlines operations, allowing a focus on creative endeavors. However, as in any relationship, there are moments of enamorment and aspects that generate fears, such as dependency. Yet, having AI as a constant, readily available assistant ensures informed decision-making and operational efficiency. This dynamic interplay contributes to sustainable growth, societal well-being, and a balanced approach to embracing the potential and challenges of AI.”
And to end a special Valentine’s poem to AI from: Alexander Edwards, President, Strategic Vision, USA
In the Age of AI, fears do loom,
Yet love for its promise in hearts does bloom.
In research and insights, it's a guiding light,
Unveiling mysteries hidden from sight.
In healthcare’s realm, it heals and mends,
In climate's fight, a helpful friend.
With learning tailored, it breaks the wall,
Uniting minds, one and all.
In art and music, it softly plays,
Stealing creativity in myriad ways.
So on this Valentine's, let's shout or cheer,
For AI's gifts, blessings, and follies, both far and near.”
Thank you to everyone for their contributions - some fascinating perspectives. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Crispin Beale - Chief Executive, Insight250, Senior Strategic Advisor, mTab; Group President, Behaviorally
Crispin Beale is a marketing, data, and customer experience expert. Crispin spent over a decade on the Executive Management Board of Chime Communications as CEO of leading brands such as Opinion Leader, Brand Democracy, Facts International, and Watermelon. Before this, Crispin held senior marketing and insight roles at BT, Royal Mail Group, and Dixons. Crispin originally qualified as a chartered accountant and moved into management consultancy with Coopers & Lybrand (PwC). Crispin has been a Fellow, Board Director (and Chairman) of the MRS for nearly 20 years and UK ESOMAR Representative for over 10 years. Crispin is currently a Senior Strategic Advisor at mTab as well as Group President at Behaviorally.