At the The Market Research Event in Orlando last month, there was a lot of buzz about Big Data and automation disrupting the face of research. Then within a week of the conference, Seth Godin, one of the conference keynotes, publishes a blog post discounting the validity of Surveys and Focus Groups stating “polls are always wrong.” Hard not to come out worried that our craft is under-siege.
Yet, despite the naysayers, I actually walked away energized and optimistic for the next era of research to emerge. While trend gurus prophesized about disruption in the form of greater “personalization” and the impact of the “sharing” economy, I was jotting notes on how researchers can use these trends to add value to the research process. As brand strategists are discussing all the data they receive and can’t understand, I was sketching out ideas for tools and services that help our clients meld big data with traditional approaches to understand the “why” behind the numbers.
Traditional research is not dead. Our role as researchers is needed more than ever before. Automated, big data is just that – data. And, data has always needed to be interpreted and massaged. Our place in the new economy is to ask relevant questions, design meaningful experiments and craft actionable insights. Instead of hiding from the future, let’s embrace it. In my humble opinion, the new economy can’t afford to move forward without us.