OPINION28 February 2020

Research industry trends from IIeX Amsterdam

Data analytics Europe Opinion Trends

A standout from this year’s IIeX was the move to bringing insight and other skills in-house, as Zappi’s Steve Phillips reports.

Amsterdam canal and bikes on bridge

The IIeX Europe conference has become the go-to place to check on innovation in our industry over the past few years. It tends to attract a lot of start ups, many from outside our industry tempted into joining the start up competition for the $20,000 prize money.

It is also one of the more open conferences, with clients genuinely looking for new approaches to problems and therefore interested in talking to lots of potential providers. The conversations are often collaborative and solution-based, which is great.

This year seemed to feature less actual innovation, although there was some. Instead the focus was on implementing existing technologies within businesses and how that was changing the client landscape.

On the first day on the keynote panel, Sky and Booking.com both talked about increasing the levels of in-sourcing the project management side of research. This was backed by other speakers including Mars, Carlsberg and Colgate which talked through their use of knowledge management platforms or other insight platforms and how those technologies change the way they work.

The core demand remains access to great insight when the business question occurs – not four weeks later. When this demand becomes the key defining issue, then fast access to consumers and insights is critical, and having agencies in the way can simply slow down the process. Of course agencies can help, particularly on more strategic projects, but in many situations they seem to be an unnecessary step.

This thought chimes with other discussions about UX testing (mostly in-sourced) and data analytics (mostly in-sourced), which are increasingly aligned with the insights department. As these functions are in-sourced, companies want to reduce costs and also be as close to insights as possible. It seems a natural prediction from this that the size and scope of the client insight department is likely to increase, and the role of agencies is likely to narrow away from project management functions and towards explicit value add. 

So as this trend for in-sourcing continues, we can expect the knowledge management and insight platforms to do well. Presentations from Servatia, Market Logic and Bloomfield all showed the promise coming from this sector. Insight needs to live somewhere, available to all, easily combined and shared. The question for the rest of us, is what role we will play in this new world.