FEATURE24 December 2019

Review 2019: Biggest disappointments

B2B Brexit Data analytics News Public Sector Technology Trends UK

It’s perhaps no surprise that politics tops the list of disappointments this year, but diversity, AI and data have also missed the mark for some. We ask our contributors: What has been the year’s biggest disappointment or anti-climax?

Big ben government politics_crop

Political disillusionment

Sabine Stork, founding partner, Thinktank
A tendency in political advertising to abandon the old McCann adage of delivering ‘truth well told’ in favour of what can’t even be seen as half-truths any more… this general election was a low point that goes beyond disappointment. 

Ben Hogg, managing director EMEA and APAC, Lucid
Brexit, lying, incompetent politicians and a general election ruining the magical run up to Christmas.

Sinead Jefferies, consultant, Watermelon
Politics. And a failure of the political establishment, across all parties and all standpoints, to truly, properly engage with the people of the UK. It horrified and saddened me to see us coming into a year-end general election where people had such little conviction in the potential leaders of the country, and where so many people’s views were being shaped by distorted truths, hype and a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues. The UK has a desperate need for complete reform in engagement between politicians and people, and my fear is that without this there will be more and more polarisation and more and more disenfranchisement and unrest.

Joe Staton, client strategy director, GfK
Democracy: parliament has failed to deliver Brexit, making me question whether we take a hit to democracy by staying, or the potential hit to the economy by leaving. Consumers seem to be bewildered and frustrated by parliamentary shenanigans. We measure the consumer mood every month in our Consumer Confidence Barometer and it’s nearly four years since confidence was in positive territory. Something needs to give.

Crawford Hollingworth, co-founder, The Behavioural Architects
The paralysis that has been forced upon us by a political system that does not work. Not only are we seeing amazing businesses doing great work and yet really struggling to cope with the uncertainty, but also a lack of investment in the future from both the government and companies. Most worrying of all is the ‘brain-drain’ clearly occurring; where talented, highly experienced people – both in the private and public sector – are searching for jobs abroad, leaving for more stable climes with more certainty and a warmer welcome.

Nick Baker, UK chief executive, Savanta
Boris. Trump. Brexit.

…and everything else

Annie Pettit, research consultant
Oh my, blockchain! It entered 2019 with grand expectations of eliminating all fraud forever and ever – imagine no more fake research participants! And then hackers did their thing proving it is fallible as all technology is. There’s still a future for blockchain but it didn’t turn out to be the security panacea we’d hoped for.

Peter Totman, head of qualitative, Jigsaw
The industry continues to focus on demographic diversity without much mentioning the intellectual or political kind. They are not the same – not at all.

Jane Frost, chief executive, Market Research Society
This year’s biggest disappointment is the growth of big data and at times what can seem like the failure to make this smart data. This has led to data analytics being considered by some as something which is not part of research which is completely false – how could market, social and opinion research not be about data?  The biggest challenge for us next year is to put our arms around data and address this.

Ray Poynter, chief executive, The Future Place
DIY tools for advanced techniques. Most out of the box tools for social media listening, text analytics, AI and modelling have failed to impress.

Deborah Mattinson, founding partner, BritainThinks
In a year when the Committee of Advertising Practice passed new rules to stop advertisers including gender stereotypes that are going to cause harm or offence, it was pretty disappointing to see two major brands (VW and Philadelphia) fall foul of these rules within a couple of months. 

Emma Cooper, managing director, group operations, System1
Artificial intelligence – it promises so much, but I'm yet to find a really meaningful and exciting application that lives up to the hype.

Anna Cliffe, joint managing director, Trinity McQueen
I don’t suppose it’s a surprise, but we’ve not really seen the use of virtual reality take hold in the industry this year. However, here’s hoping for 2020.

As part of the ongoing series, contributors also explored their top trends and industry developments of the year.