OPINION1 April 2011

Hello and goodbye


For those in search of inspiration Research 2011 proved fertile ground. The new venue was buzzing with debate and, despite the somewhat grim economic backdrop, it was a thoroughly upbeat affair.

I’m going to remember Research 2011 for four things. This is the first research conference I’ve attended where I can honestly say that I witnessed a research industry that was comfortable in its own skin. There was no agonising about getting into the boardroom. No paranoia or mithering about what it means to be a researcher. It was a conference that showed an industry at ease with itself.

I was also struck by the amount of new faces at conference, both in the audience and on the platform. Quite frankly conference was once dominated by a select group of speakers. That’s all changed. This year we welcomed an eclectic mix of clients, advertising folk, young researchers and international insight figures. The conference has become something that truly reflects the complex and diverse make up of the industry itself.

I’ll remember our keynote speakers who seemed to go down a treat. Tim Harford gave us a highly engaging nudge towards embracing failure. Conference favourite Charles Leadbeater showed us a cheeky glimpse of the initial ideas that are contributing to the foundation of his new book. Will Hutton reminded us of the role that researchers could play in trying to quantify the hot topic of ‘fairness’. And I will never forget Magnus Lindkvist barnstorming his way through the most amusing, enlightening and inspirational speech I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to at conference. If you were there, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Audiences were hungry for the detail provided by our paper-givers but it was clear that they were equally ravenous for the big-picture thinking provided by our four keynote guests. You can see all the highlights at research-live.com.

Finally, I’ll remember Research 2011 as my final conference as the editor of Research. This is my last issue and I couldn’t be leaving the magazine and website in more capable or talented hands. Brian Tarran, who many of you know, will be the new editor of Research from the next issue. Brian has been on the title for nine years and is as close to the market as it’s possible to be.

I’ll be taking up new responsibilities at the MRS which will ensure that I remain close to one of the most inventive, stimulating and exciting industries in the commercial world. It’s been a pleasure dealing with you all as editor of Research.

Over to you Brian.