NEWS14 March 2017

How research can keep up in a fast-moving world

Impact 2017 Innovations News Technology Trends UK

UK – How can research keep up with new product development and innovation in a world of constant disruption?

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At the MRS annual conference, Impact 2017, in London today, insight experts shared experiences of coming up with valuable insights fast.

Tom Benton, head of digital at Danone Nutricia, explained how the brand sharpened its operations to get quicker feedback from consumers. This came as the result of a project conducted with Marketing Sciences Unlimited, on how mothers-to-be use social media. “We made a huge change in our business strategy towards social media,” said Benton. This included streamlining processes and introducing 24/7 community management.

Now the brand has two streams of research work: big strategic projects, and real-time monitoring. “It’s about having multiple methodologies,” said Benton. “The work we did with Marketing Sciences Unlimited was two or three years in the making, but I get notifications in 10 minutes if someone tweets about our brands in a way that has a potential negative reaction.”

Rufus Weston, head of insight at Just Eat, spoke about working with customers to develop a review and rating function, with the help of FreshMinds.

FreshMinds ran a “pop-up” online community, followed by a quick-turnaround innovation workshop to come up with designs for rating systems, which were then tested in sessions with consumers. Chris Leo, senior consultant at FreshMinds, said agility was one of the key principles behind the project. “When we talk about being agile at FreshMinds, we’re talking about being responsive to what a client wants – meeting the need at that moment in time,” Leo said.

Weston said Just Eat moves so fast that a year is like “a year in dog years”. “There is a high emphasis on speed of change,” he said. “What does that mean when we work with our product teams? What I can provide is to bring rigour to those agile research practices – asking the right questions in the right way.”

Tim Britton of Springer Nature said digital disruption and instant communication doesn’t have to mean fundamental changes to the nature of research. “Sure, we can be on 24/7, we can respond far more quickly,” Britton said, “but actually disruption isn’t about what we do, it’s about taking all the stuff we know how to do, and making that really accessible really fast.”