What long ago seemed like the distant future has now arrived: The year 2020 is finally upon us. Science fiction authors, prominent scientists, and politicians have long predicted what the world would look like and, while we still may not have flying cars, human colonies on Mars, or tubular highways, the technological advancements of today are truly remarkable – and will only continue to expand.
When it comes to market research, the technological innovations of the new decade bring with them challenges that will need to be overcome in order to achieve lasting success. Here are some of the most prominent issues that market research will need to look out for in 2020 and how companies should approach them.
A Continued Coexistence with AI
The most significant trend of the next decade will be the increasing advance of artificial intelligence into all industries. In fact, total spending on AI and cognitive systems is expected to surpass $52 billion by 2021, with a recent study finding that 80% of market researchers believe that AI will make a positive impact on the market.
While this may seem to indicate an imminent machine-led office takeover, we still have a long way to go before machines are able to wrest control of the workplace – there are simply too many things out there that AI can’t yet do.
In the field of market research, a blend of conventional and AI-based research tools is needed in order to be most effective. The reasoning behind this is that, though advancements in AI technology have been remarkable, it still can’t replicate a human understanding or provide in-depth insights into various external factors of a given industry.
In market research, AI is best used to carry out menial tasks that tie up researchers’ time – things such as finding samples, survey routing, data cleaning, and raw data analysis, freeing up humans to use their analytical mind for more complex tasks. Researchers are then able to fully devote the majority of their vast knowledge to interpret trends and provide insights – many of which are collected through automation tools.
In short, AI technology can find a host of data in a short amount of time. However, it’s not always the right data – and here’s where the human mind comes in to find the most relevant data to use for market research. Using the strengths of AI and human business intelligence in their natural elements gives companies insight that they wouldn’t have gained otherwise.
Data Security and Transparency in the Digital Age
With a new privacy scandal seemingly every year, data security and the resulting increase in governance is a huge issue in nearly every industry that deals with customer data. Public distrust towards giving away their data is a hot topic that every market research company will need to take into account now and into the future.
This is incredibly important in the coming year. 2020 will also bring two major global events that will likely be filled with campaigns of disinformation from third parties: Brexit and the United States election. Transparency from the market research industry will be key: Companies need to show the world that the insight they gain will be used as a force of good to improve people’s lives rather than being used to propagandize. So how can companies adapt and regain this trust in light of the current climate?
In order to approach this ethical debate, market research companies should take the opportunity to create a code for the ethical use of data. While research trade bodies such as ESOMAR and MRS have long upheld certain guidelines for market research companies to abide by when it comes to addressing these issues, there needs to be a deeper review of ethics when performing research.
Feedback is the life fuel of market research, typically coming in the form of surveys which are then used to improve products, customer or employee engagement, or a host of other uses. What companies do with the data gained through this research – and more importantly, how effectively they convey to those who they’re taking the data from – is imperative to future research campaigns.
When it comes to data privacy, blockchain may be the answer to ensure customers that their data is being held securely and transparently. Blockchain has already gained prominence as one of the most innovative technologies of the 21st century and, in 2020, the importance of blockchain will only increase as new industries begin to implement it into their data protection systems. With blockchain, user data can be securely and transparently collected by market research companies, increasing trust without decreasing the data’s effectiveness.
A Bright Future of 5G Data Collection
5G is finally here, with telecommunications companies continuing to roll out accessibility in cities throughout the world. Though it will take some time to experience the most significant of benefits, driverless cars, wireless VR gaming, remote control robots, and smart cities are part of the incredible future that will be driven by 5G technology. As a result, market research companies will need to learn how to implement 5G wireless technology in their data collection strategies.
The most obvious correlation to market research will be an increase in the number of surveys completed through mobile devices. As customers will be able to experience much higher speeds on their mobile devices, they are much more likely to access surveys on mobile devices. But with the increased use of smart devices in cars, home appliances, home systems, and businesses, the scope of potential data collection is vastly increased. Market research needs to take advantage of this.
From technological innovations to changes in the way that consumers react to data, 2020 will bring with it many changes that market research companies will need to abide by. By continuing to adapt to technological advancements by adjusting their strategies, market research will be best prepared to succeed now and into the rest of the decade.