FEATURE17 December 2019

Review 2019: biggest developments of the year

AI Behavioural science Data analytics Election 2019 Features Trends UK

With Christmas just around the corner, a cross-section of the industry share their thoughts on what they deemed the most significant industry developments of 2019, from a resurgence of qual to artificial intelligence going mainstream.

Chameleon change shift_crop

Changing client mindsets

Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
We’re seeing lots of renewed excitement across a wide range of clients about research that digs deeper such as ethnography done properly using a real mix of offline and online. I think it’s the same trend that has meant that qualitative techniques (focus groups and much more) saw a rejuvenation during the general election 2019.

Babita Earle, executive vice-president, strategic and industry partnerships, ZappiStore
Client-side mindset. I joined Zappi three years ago passionate about how tech can elevate the relevance of our industry, but that is never going to be truly realised without significant mindset shifts amongst clients. I see that happening now. An increasing number of client-side insight teams now want to reinvent through digitisation, standardisation and systemising processes, being more agile, being more scrappy and being more data-savvy.

Andrew O’Connell, managing director, UK, Dynata
The most significant development of 2019 is the move towards integrating multiple data sets, such as matching survey data with CRMs and third-party data management platforms. We’ve observed that this development is being led by media agencies and large corporate brands. 

Behavioural science going mainstream

Anna Cliffe, joint managing director, Trinity McQueen
Seeing how the principles of behavioural science are being adopted and applied in marketing generally to influence consumer decision-making. And the impact they’re beginning to have.

Jane Rudling, managing director, Walnut Unlimited
The use of behavioural science to understand how people make choices. Behavioural science is becoming more mainstream and is greatly enhancing the value of the findings we deliver to our clients.

Continued march of AI

Crawford Hollingworth, co-founder, The Behavioural Architects
The surge and steady acceptance of AI-led products. This was prompted by the shift away from anchors like the Terminator and the technological singularity, to using terms like augmented intelligence or reframing AI as an extension of the human mind. This development has enabled us to see AI more as a friend and less as a foe. 

Ben Page, chief executive, Ipsos Mori
We are starting to see AI and machine learning moving from something we talk about to something we do. Mass modelling is becoming more and more important as we start to do big data.

Ryan Howard, director, advanced analytics, Simpson Carpenter
I can look no further than BERT, universally regarded as a sea change in text analytics, and nicknamed after the muppet (‘Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers’ is just too much of a mouthful). BERT-based models appreciate that the same word can have a different meaning when used in a slightly different context. This slams through the biggest barrier we have encountered so far, with seismic significance for the future shape of market research. What we hope will be possible with text (and voice), is now a giant leap closer. 

Tracking diversity

Jane Frost, chief executive, Market Research Society
While tech remains important, there’s been more of an evolution here than a major breakthrough. Embracing inclusivity, on the other hand, will really improve our ability to enhance and energise our work.

The way diversity, inclusion and equality have been embraced this year has been significant. There has been a real appetite to embrace initiatives which make the industry more reflective of the changing world around us. From mental wellbeing, to the launch of MRS Pride and the Manifesto for Opportunity, I’ve been impressed by engagement in dialogue at all levels on these issues. This is symptomatic of an industry which is maturing and has grasped the importance of being truly representative. 

Nick Baker, UK chief executive, Savanta
The CEO Pledge launched by the MRS this year strikes a chord within the industry to wake up, get with it and deliver on the promises we have previously taken around on transparency, the gender pay gap, diversity and making our industry a place people want to be.

The series will continue tomorrow and throughout the festive period as we explore the standout trends, best campaigns and biggest disappointments of 2019, as well as making some predictions for 2020 and the next decade.