Artificial Intelligence is sweeping through the world at an unprecedented pace. First adopter industries such as high tech, automotive, and financial services utilize AI to help foster innovations like autonomous driving, automated investing, and software machine-to-machine learning. For our B-to-B industries, however, the opportunity for AI-driven insights presents a challenge for both corporate market researchers and market research agencies alike. Much of the daily work has already been significantly and successfully outsourced to software, such as data gathering, cleaning, and report population (to name just a few ways), yet successful researchers have adapted, innovated, and leveraged these changes to focus on activities that software cannot (yet) replicate. Simply put, the ways for market researchers to provide value to decision makers (in ways that #AI cannot) will continue to, as more solutions incorporate this incredible software innovation.
- Imagination: Successful researchers will find a source of unique insights, born from combining years and years of human behavior and observational research, together with the recommended findings from primary research. Imagination, combined with vision, can create explosive opportunity, and uncharted territory for all B-to-B companies. In fact, some of the most successful B-to-B, Enterprise-to-Enterprise companies come from an original vision, an imagined world, and better place, serving as a launch board for new products, massive new enterprises, and in some cases entire industries. Successful insights professionals in the future will envision connections, future places, and leverage trends from surrounding industry verticals and relevant consumer trends that may someday affect all businesses.
- Determination: Diehard researchers, those determined to get to the truth, will always have an advantage over AI driven technologies. Whereas a computer can run analytics, devoid of emotion and grit, that very quality of perseverance can mean the difference between digging further or stopping at a superficial level of insight. And while cloud computing and non-stop machine learning can outlast even the most workaholic researcher, it cannot take a step back to ponder an alternative form of insight not yet captured, or think logically if the dataset addresses the question. Resoluteness and firmness of purpose can also help guide the ideas to action; researchers must implement findings into effect to create change – and sheer determination can often mean the difference between success and failure. Does the organization have a strong B-to-B (Belly-to-Belly) sales machine? Do the engineers work tirelessly to get the product just right and iterate over and over to make sure insights are fully integrated? Could an AI machine push ideas into action? Possibly, but this then ties into the following differentiator of market researchers and AI; what if it doesn’t make sense to implement the insights?
- Common Sense: Common sense will power the most successful researchers of the future. Just blindly following the data, the software, and the automated insights can lull even the most seasoned professional into a sense of “set it and forget it.” Great leaders will identify future threats and opportunities, in many cases before their very own customers see them, and bring a down-to-earth approach to understanding the insights, potentially generating huge dividends and providing a competitive advantage. These companies won’t believe the hype, allowing for wiggle room between what AI might suggest, and the reality that comes from years and years of observation. Common sense input from market researchers has always played a critical role in well-rounded research; the coming AI wave will only amplify and highlight the need for these essential market research traits.
While no one can predict the future, successful researchers will focus on the areas that provide the highest value to decision makers. AI will create incredible new efficiencies and allow for new areas of exploration, advancement, and innovation. Increasingly, researchers will rely on their imagination, and common sense when creating future market research insights.