NEWS20 December 2010

Research ‘must take charge of business data in 2011’


2011 will be the year when business data ‘starts to converge on market research departments’, according to analyst firm Forrester.

“Using technology for data integration and knowledge management will be critical for market research professionals,” says the report, which gives predictions for the year ahead. “If [the industry] does not integrate this treasure trove of data to which it has access and the knowledge housed in siloed departments within the organisation, it will risk developing and leveraging insights from an incomplete view of the customer.”

“This is the year where we have to decide where market research will end up in 2015 or 2020”

Forrester’s research director Reineke Reitsma (pictured) told Research: “This is the year where we have to decide where market research will end up in 2015 or 2020. I hope that we’ll have come to a consensus at the end of 2011 – it will be damaging if we don’t, because there are other roles in the organisation using customer data, and if we don’t come to a conclusion they’ll take over some of our responsibilities.”

Technology will help research teams “to build a central knowledge house”, integrating and analysing data from across the business, including results of ‘DIY’ research. Enterprise feedback management and knowledge management systems “will be essential in the future to fully develop a rich and cohesive 360-degree view of the customer”, says the report.

But this sort of change will not happen without people taking the initiative, warns Reitsma, and research professionals need to have an internal marketing plan ready to state their case for becoming the central clearing house for data, ensuring checks on sample, methodology, and data analysis for DIY studies done by other departments.

Although there will inevitably be struggles on the way, Reitsma points to client companies such as Best Buy and Philips as examples of firms that are already taking steps to integrate and manage data from various sources more effectively.

Despite seeing growing efforts to tie research more closely to business value, Forrester is sceptical about prospects for a ‘pay for performance’ model in research in 2011. “This initiative will get people talking, but we don’t see much coming from it,” the report says. Reitsma says she sees pay for performance as “a PR thing”, only likely to be applicable to the more mundane, less strategic end of research.

As for emerging technologies and methodologies, Forrester sees these factors influencing the management and communication of research as much as the collection and analysis. Reitsma says it will be up to industry bodies to push new methodologies forward, as clients and budgets still aren’t ready. Innovation remains a vendor-dominated conversation, she said, and getting clients to buy in is currently “where the chain breaks”.

The report also predicts continued growth for social media listening techniques, the use of social networks for research, and innovative new offerings in DIY research.

Forrester’s report Predictions 2011: What Will Happen in Market Research, by Reineke Reitsma with Jacqueline Anderson, Tamara Barber and Roxana Strohmenger, can be ordered online here.



14 years ago

Excellent! Right on the money with what others (ARF, Cambiar Consulting) are saying about the future. Your additions are "spot-on." These are exciting times for those companies (both client and supplier side) that get on the bus and start re-defining the future.

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14 years ago

Researchers may need to sprint to make sure they catch this bus. The plethora of Business Intelligence type tools that are already/now available is an indication of how much this area of work has moved in the last couple of years. Data & information in all its forms will hopefully be the future of research departments everywhere, but only if they are proactive in getting involved - and only if they don't get picky about what data sources should be included!

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14 years ago

It is laughable that Forrester thinks market research professionals will own customer data. They lack the skills, access, budgets, and mandate to do this. The customer database historically sits in the CRM department. To become the central clearing house for data, as Forrester puts it, research will need ETL, MDM, CDI, data mining, and BI skills.

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