With a new year upon us, I have read a number of articles about industry predictions for 2018. Many of these touch on the same trends we’ve been watching for years -- AI and machine learning, big data, storytelling, better visualization, social media, DIY, behavioral measurement, geo-fencing, design thinking, etc., etc.
KS&R has already invested in training and development in order to take advantage of many of these opportunities. However, I’m not sure it’s the training and development that will matter five years from now. Instead, I think the difference maker will be how agile research providers have become.
What does "becoming agile" mean? It's actually quite simple. Agile, as defined, means able to move (understand) quickly and easily. As researchers, we will only succeed in the future if we are able to move quickly and easily to where our clients need us to be.
- Design thinking has become a driver of innovation research. The discipline grew out of Silicon Valley, and is built around a structured approach to ideation and prototyping -- with several institutions offering explicit "design" training (the most recognized being Stanford). KS&R does not have anyone on staff with such "formal" training. When our clients asked what we could do, we learned how. It was not rocket science; but it did require us to quickly learn (and understand) a new vocabulary and approach for engaging both our clients and their customers.
- Geo-fencing is based on GPS technology, using it to track customers and potentially ask them questions about their experiences. KS&R has not invested in satellites or GPS technology. We also do not have a panel that is geo-fencing ready. But, when asked by clients, we quickly figured out a way to do it -- learning to use the capability, executing against it, generating a high quality result, and doing it better over time.
- Shopper path insights are important across nearly all industries, but can be particularly challenging (and costly) for those with diverse markets or countless product categories to understand. When faced with this challenge, KS&R has successfully worked with clients to create cost effective and dynamic insight building programs (up and running in a matter of 1-2 months; literally thousands of studies completed). The results enable our clients to more fully understand the unique path to purchase buyers take across markets and categories, and ultimately build industry normative metrics over time.
None of us have a crystal ball to help us see the future. We can, however, be agile enough to move quickly and easily once we recognize what we need to do. KS&R has proven time and again that becoming agile is a secret to our long-term success.
Continue reading the next blog in my series where I go into more detail about the refreshingly customer-centric approach for innovation and new product development -- Design Thinking.