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FEATURE29 December 2020

Preview 2021: Reasons to be cheerful

Covid-19 Features GDPR Trends UK

From the prospect of face-to-face meetings to new ideas coming to market, a cross-section of the industry share what they are most excited about for 2021 and their reasons for optimism.

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
Back in the early summer, when business was really slow, a colleague from another country said to me: ‘We’ll be very busy in a few months’ time, the world has changed and our clients will need us to help them understand it.’ She’s been proved right. And I’m convinced that our industry will continue to be crucial for clients in 2021.

Ryan Barry, chief revenue officer, Zappi
We're more connected than we were a year ago, with great technology, and a lot of talent.

Caroline Frankum, chief executive, Kantar Profiles
Navigating this unprecedented crisis together virtually has taken our creativity, innovation, resilience and empathy to a whole new level. But it has also provided an important inflection point for creating a more responsible era – one that is driven by a greater sense of humanity, community spirit, purposeful collaboration, and a collective narrative of hope that reinforces trust and catalyses bold, collective action for growth.

I have always loved Abraham Lincoln’s quote: ‘The best way to predict your future is to create it’. The fact that this has never rung more true now that we have all become more comfortable with giving up the familiar – and achieving things we may have previously considered to be impossible – make me incredibly optimistic for what our industry will achieve in 2021.

Ray Poynter, chief research officer, Potentiate
The industry’s youth – not all of it, but plenty of it.

Ben Hogg, managing director Emea and Apac, Lucid
After two years of Brexit chaos and almost a year of catastrophic harm caused by Covid-19, I’d be happy to settle for a year without excitement. I think one of the most exciting things for me is that physical location of people is no longer important – employees have proven (in my experience) that, with the right tools, they can be productive in any environment, so the significant adjustment to work/life balance will be a major plus.  Even if it means I’ll have to continue to work on 4G by dangling my phone out of the window to get a signal.

Shazia Ginai, chief executive, Neuro Insight
I am excited about the MRS diversity and inclusion council moving things forward in this industry, I have had the privilege to be part of this group. Babita Earle took on the initiative this year and has really fired things up.  I am also really thrilled to see organisations such as CORe (Colour of Research) take off thanks to Theo Francis and the CORe team. The research industry has a lot to do with regards to D&I and this year we have made a great start, onwards and upwards from here.

Sinead Jefferies, founder, Vela
Seeing people again. I think everyone has a real hunger for 2021 to be ‘better’ and I hope that people will value the connections they have and the spirit that makes this industry great. I have seen so much support being offered through so many networks, and I know that despite all the challenges we have faced in 2020, we all have a huge will to support each other to succeed.

Jane Frost, chief executive, MRS
I might be in the minority, but I find myself immensely optimistic for the year ahead. Our sector has proven its worth to a global audience this year and established itself as a vanguard for the Covid-19 recovery. We continue to be the largest supplier of market research and insight in Europe and the dynamic and evolving nature of our UK sector means its value has recently been reappraised to £7bn, an increase of 40% on the previous estimate. That’s a fantastic position to be in heading into the new year and I have many reasons to be hopeful for what 2021 will bring.

Ryan Howard, freelance data science consultant
I’m looking forward to lockdown ideas being brought to market. After GDPR, we’re once again facing outward to capitalise on new tech. Serverless computing for on-the-fly data fusions, one-shot categorisation, transfer learning, surrogate models… our stars are aligning. These are pragmatic approaches that also capture the imagination and make research useful. Mark my words. Tell Granny all about it. We’re going to have a field day.

Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
After a year of uncertainty, we can feel the confidence starting to come back, thank goodness. On a more mundane level, I’m looking forward to actual meetings.

Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos Mori
The amazing adaptability the industry has shown in 2020, the huge growth in technology abled research and insight means we are as or more relevant as ever – provided we are shifting our thinking and continuing to adapt.