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FEATURE15 January 2018

Gary Laben on the Research Now SSI merger

Features M&A North America

At the end of last year, Gary Laben was announced as the CEO of Research Now SSI, the business formed of the merger of the two panel companies. Research Live put some questions to Laben, to find out more about the new company.

Q: What is the most important part of the merger from the business perspective?

Gary Laben: Research Now SSI is uniquely positioned to bring additional value to our customers whether they are a MRA, corporation, healthcare company or ad/media agency. Our opted-in panel data, technology and commitment to quality are unparalleled in market research services and add up to a powerful set of differentiators. 

Marketers and advertisers – who are struggling to deliver on the promise of big data and to deliver personalised messages and offers in real-time – have been looking for a better way, based on data. The missing link has been the absence of verified, opted-in data from real people. Our data – now richer and broader thanks to our merger – fills that gap. 

Q: What will your customers gain most from the new company?

GL: We will continue to expand our offerings and focus on innovative data and technology solutions that optimise our customers’ results and give them greater confidence in their decisions and investments.

To do this, we will bring the largest, most comprehensive first-party data to our clients’ market research activities. No other market research services provider offers such deeply profiled data delivered across delivery solutions (DIY, AR, CATI, etc.). This will result in more choice and increased scale.

Q: This deal is being referred to as a merger but surely with you in the CEO position and the name choice, it’s really a case of Research Now taking over SSI?

GL: It really is a merger of equals: two industry leaders bringing together highly complementary capabilities and operations for the primary objective of growth. And as we’ve commenced the integration, it is even more evident that these previously separate companies each possess incredible talent, products and platforms.  

Q: Have any other decisions been made on the senior management team for Research Now SSI and if not when will those announcements been made?

GL: Our senior leadership team draws on leaders from both companies, as follows: Melanie Courtright, global research science; Bob Fawson, product development; Michel Guidi, managing director, International; Ryan Jantz, panel and partnerships; Tom Johnson, sales & customer experience, Americas; Barbara Palmer, marketing; Ashlin Quirk, general counsel and corporate secretary; Kalyan Raman, chief technology officer; Mary Rusterholz, talent management; Mark Slobbe, operations; and Stephen DeCosta and Rick Essex – co-chief financial officers.

Q: Where will the new business headquarters be based?

GL: Research Now SSI will maintain a strong presence in both Dallas, Texas and Shelton, Connecticut.

Q: Is Chris Fanning [ previously president and CEO of SSI] going to stay in the new company?

GL: Chris will continue to be involved in a new role, as strategic advisor to the Board. In this capacity, he will assist both in helping the integration efforts as well as providing guidance on our future strategy and direction.

Q: Will there be redundancies within the new organisation?

GL: Our merger is a strategic one, focused on growth possibilities based on mutual and complementary strengths. With the integration, we expect that there will be some overlap in roles, but our goal is to retain the best talent in the industry. And, we expect that with our focus on expanding beyond market research, the merger will create new opportunities and result in the creation of new roles.

Q: Are there any other specifics about the merger that have been decided that you can share?

GL: Not at this time.

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