It’s the time of year again, in which we tend to look back at what has been, and look forward to what will happen. Looking at this from a professional angle, 2010 was a very interesting year for the industry: research vendors bounced back from the recession, there was an increased focus on added value, and we saw a lot of innovation happening. In our report Predictions 2011: What Will Happen In Market Research, my team and I have identified a number of trends that we expect to shape market research in 2011.
Organization, technology, and social are defining the research agenda in 2011. In fact, in 2011 market researchers need to embrace social media as an information source, recognize technology as a driver of change while understanding how to implement it effectively, and continue to identify and integrate innovative methodologies to prepare for the future ahead. This will drive, for example, the following trends:
Leaders of competitive and market intelligence teams know that something is wrong. They tell Forrester this every day. They describe it as being similar to when your car doesn’t drive quite right, but the mechanic can’t find a problem, or when you feel sick, but the doctor gives you a clean bill of health.
You know that something needs to change, but can’t seem to find a point of view to guide you toward the right way to change.
The most frequently used word to describe this problem is “credibility” — and is usually couched in questions such as “how can we build credibility with sales?” or “why isn’t our content credible with sales teams?” Forrester’s practice serving sales enablement professionals will discuss the challenge of building CMI credibility with sales during our February teleconference.
Across the tech industry, marketing and portfolio teams place massive amounts of content into sales portals and measure their success from the usage data — views, downloads, prints — from these repositories. During a recent research interview, one sales rep at a leading software company said, “I know that a lot of materials are supposed to be on our sales portals, but in my nine years, I haven’t ever taken the time to look.”
Your supply chain is broken if a sales rep can succeed for a decade without ever using your materials or even visiting the primary site holding your content!
Hopefully this title got your attention. Why, you may ask, am I writing about the death of the very industry that I’ve staked my profession (and my paycheck) on? Well, as the saying goes, with every door that closes, a new one opens, and there is a new door opening for market research.
I’m kicking off a new Forrester Big Idea report on the future of the MR function at client-side companies. As the name implies, this initial report will lay out Forrester’s overall thinking on where MR is headed, and it will serve as a basis for a new stream of research our team will be tackling over the next 12 to 24 months. The premise goes like this:
The market research role is changing rapidly. Not only are traditional, prevailing methodologies challenged by technological innovations and changing consumer behavior, but also the need for traditional market research data is decreasing. In fact, organizations are drowning in data. And all parts of the organization have their own sources of data, from what sales hears from the customer to what customer service fields in calls and email, and let’s not forget about the chatter on the Facebook fan page or other social outlets. Yet the best business decisions are made not through data but through insights: the context that comes from understanding what data means in the bigger picture of the business objectives and market trends.
So market researchers are struggling to reclaim their relevance in a time when data is a commodity, insights are power, and disparate sources of information are producing different versions of the truth. In fact, the role of the market researcher as we know it is going away for good.