The belief is that technology moves fast. Our annual survey of technology in the market research industry – done in partnership with FocusVision – is released on June 8th and offers an alternative view. As in previous years, it shows an industry on the move – but rather than traveling light with laptop and a few essentials, and heading for the high-speed train, MRX is found taking to the road in a mixture of cars, vans and trailers, as there is so much luggage everyone needs to take with them.
The resourceful and the lucky get away early to speed along an almost empty highway; for the rest, progress is of the crowded highway type, as some lanes inexplicably slow to near stationary, while others keep edging forward. If only you knew in advance which one to pick!
Our survey has been tracking the progress of market research in adapting to new technologies to collect, process and present data for 13 years now. Considerable change can be seen – the line-up of data collection methods in 2016 would be unrecognisable to someone in 2004. But most areas we look at in depth – whether it is mobile research for collecting data, or the long-assumed decline of CATI, or the rise of data visualization and dashboards – move slower than you might expect if you listen to the buzz in the industry.
The same is true of the players. We tend to find that the large firms are further ahead with new techniques and innovation – their size and greater means let them risk the odd detour. But we often also detect pockets of innovation among the smaller firms too. This year, for example, we found that large and small firms alike are neck-and-neck in the extent to which they are incorporating analytics based around Big Data into their reporting. We also uncovered another success story for the industry around how it has taken to storytelling across the board.
Ours is rightly a cautious industry. Much of that baggage is there because it is needed. But we hope our annual survey also lets research companies examine how they are doing in relation to their technology, and check their own direction of travel. We also hope it might stimulate some frank discussion about just what gets taken on the journey, and what needs to be put out for recycling instead.