NEWS13 March 2018

2040 vision – young researchers predict the future

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UK – The world of the future may be one of robots, automation and even microchips in people’s brains. So where does that leave market research? Five of the brightest researchers of today present their vision of 2040.

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James Wallis, senior consultant at FreshMinds, said the rise of big data and its availability to businesses will mark the end of surveys that rely on consumers to recall and report their own behaviour.

“Businesses and brands will already now much more to do with their customers than we could ever think to ask. Big data is here and here to stay. I don’t believe as an industry we’ve perhaps thought about how disruptive it can be. We should grab the big data bull by the horns.”

Kathryn Webb, creative director at AKQA, said that automation was already helping humans make sense of data, in an unbiased way.

“In 20 years, AI (will be able to) do a better job of insights than you. AIs will be able to balance multiple priorities, and they’ll know when they should get on with the job themselves and when they should involve a human.”

Amy Watson, research manager at ABA Research, predicted that in an increasingly automated world, the role of humans would remain in explaining the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the ‘what’ explained by data.

“We need to be the disruptors that drive curiosity, provoking debate in a way that machines can’t. Our skills will be much more elevated … less ‘jack of all trades’.”

Frances Revel, associate director, Insight at The 7 Stars, said that by 2040, a real work-life balance might exist, with people valued according to the quality of their contribution, rather than the number of hours they put in at the office.

“The concept of market research will be outdated and dare I say the Market Research Society may not exist. Instead, maybe it will be the Market Truth Society, or even better, the Human Insight Community.”

Mathilde Leblond of IDO said researchers of the future had both the honour and responsibility to be the voice of the consumer and to broaden stakeholders’ minds.

“How might we use our privileged positions now to create alternative futures for the next 20 years?”