NEWS20 October 2017

Shell insights head: ‘Researchers should be worried by automation’

Automotive Data analytics Energy News UK

UK – Market research professionals should be worried about automation, according to Shell’s global customer insights head.

Shell petrol_crop

Speaking on a panel at Foresight Factory’s Trending 2018 conference in London on Thursday ( 19 October), James Johnstone, head of global customer insights at the energy company, said market researchers ought to be concerned by automation.

“If I’m honest I think some people should be really worried about it [automation] in consumer insights. People who sit in the more traditional market research piece – I think they should be very worried.”

He added that Shell is making steps in the area and that automating some processes is “empowering” for the insights division, enabling it to play a greater strategic role within the company.

“What we’re finding is we’re spending less of our time doing traditional project management and data provision, etc. We’re freeing up more of our time to do the strategic thinking piece that adds value within the business and elevates the insights function from a data provider to actually giving strategic direction.”

Johnstone also discussed Shell’s approach to the challenge of drawing insights from “a massive amount of data”, saying that the brand is changing its offer around the services available in petrol stations, such as new food and beverage options, as a result of consumers spending more time there.

“We’re doing a lot of investment in consumer needs beyond refuelling. People will always keep moving – how they do that might be different. Gone are the days when it’s a distress purchase of a sandwich and a sugary drink in a petrol station."

He added: "It’s about looking at how you can fill those consumer needs, beyond the last 100 years when you’ve traditionally only been able to offer one thing. Now we need to broaden that appeal of what we’re offering, and that’s an opportunity for us. People talk about electric cars, and it’s great, but the fastest recharge takes 20 minutes, so you are going to spend 20 minutes somewhere to do that. So what else can you have there? It’s about that consumer need and demand on their time and how you can fulfil that.”