Chuck and I recently attended "The Market Research Event" hosted by IIR. In each breakout room there was a table for bloggers; Chuck and I promptly (and individually) made fun of this. Bloggers talk about important things like breaking news or political trends, not research best practices and how to get an autograph from Malcolm Gladwell (if you are reading this Malcolm, I do think you are cool and blog-worthy, for the record). I asked myself, do people really care about this?
With the spirit that compelled me in to research in the first place, I decided to answer my own question. So, if anyone reads this blog, I will apologize to the person that decided to set up the blogging tables and admit that people, other than those attending, do care about what happens within the sacred walls of a market research conference. So, here is what I found blog-worthy this week.
On the surface this conference re-affirmed two important things for me: (1) there are a lot of smart, interesting people in research and (2) people still crave a person-to-person interaction to fill in their knowledge gaps and fuel their curiosity.
On the surface this conference re-affirmed two important things for me: (1) there are a lot of smart, interesting people in research and (2) people still crave a person-to-person interaction to fill in their knowledge gaps and fuel their curiosity. These realizations give me confidence that the world of research, while changing at an alarming rate, will still require competent people to evolve with it and navigate through it.
My colleagues helped me further evolve by showing me that listening to the odd man out can give you a leg up. Researchers seem more willing than ever to accept new perspectives and benefit from them. This new frontier champions a world where outliers are sexy sources of innovation, lenses are widened rather than narrowed, and we begin to think about the individual rather than the aggregate. I think Murphy Research will thrive in a world where traditions are honored while boundaries are explored. In fact, I think Chuck would argue that this practice is at the core of our DNA.
Another key takeaway for me was that sometimes more is too much. I first experienced this at the dessert table but the learning extended into the realm of big data. I think big data finally replaced ethnography as the new research buzzword and has sent the masses searching for more data to help us tap into consumer insights. I saw, however, that while big data done right can lead to a break through in how we see and engage with our customers, big data done wrong can lead to a break down in how we make practical decisions about pressing business issues.
I walked away with other kernels of knowledge and a few blisters due to the outrageous size of the convention center, but most importantly, I'm reminded of why research is so much fun- because it changes, it adapts, it expands and it does so at the hands of some really cool people.