‘Have We Left the Consumer Behind?’- Highlights from IIEX Europe 2023

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Nowadays, as AI is developing so fast and ChatGPT shows the true value of AI to people working across various industries, it’s not a surprise that the IIEX Europe conference touched on this topic across keynotes and panel discussions. In the endless flow of data, it’s the right time to step back and see what is the true value we as research, analytics and insights professionals can bring to ensure that the consumer’s voice is heard in the rooms where key business decisions are made.

While preparing for the panel discussion ‘Have We Left the Consumer Behind?’, Gera Nevolovich, Tiphany Yokas, Katja Maggio and I came to the conclusion that the ultimate value research, analytics and insights professionals bring to the business is insights. To identify insights we need to connect the dots from current and past studies, predict the future, apply critical thinking and blend it with strong business acumen.

Several years ago I wrote about the key building blocks of strong insight, which are still relevant but continue to be forgotten quite often. These days the word ‘insights’ is used for data points, small bits of analysis, key take-aways… Therefore, it resonates with me a lot, the way Katja Maggio outlined this challenge during our panel conversation: ‘unfortunately insights are not found on trees. And they do not grow on dashboards either.’

For research, analytics and insights professionals who are looking for ways to enhance their effectiveness in identifying insights, Katja Maggio advised ‘… going into the why and fostering a sense of curiosity or getting to a deeper level and not stopping at the first layer of data that you encounter. Ask the question behind the question. Our value resides in how we frame the question, which is increasingly lacking in the industry…’ This advice was strongly supported during our panel conversation by Tiphany Yokas: ‘… its about really digging into the questions. What’s the thing that we need to understand in this piece of work so we can get to the real meaning of it?’

At IIEX Europe, Raquel Navarro-Prieto also highlighted in her keynote that the value and role of insights in an organization evolves as it grows and develops. Hence, insights professionals should stay committed to the continuous education of business stakeholders on how to leverage insights for decision-making, where insights are coming from, and what exactly to expect from research, analytics and insights professionals. Helen Devine supported this idea in her keynote presentation, advising to continue promoting research as a practice within organizations via ensuring that everyone understands the basics and creating some intentional friction.

Interestingly, when I started my career in research & insights, I was taught that only 30% of value that insights professionals bring, comes from delivering research projects, while the remaining 70% of the value comes from clear storytelling, actionable business recommendations and continuous representation of consumer voice within an organization. As we are getting more and more support from AI on the first 30%, we might be able to shift our focus to the remaining 70% and start turning it into 75-80-85%…

However, with this representation of value-add we shouldn’t assume that in-depth analytical skills, fluency with different research tools and methodologies as well as strong understanding of AI become less important for research, analytics and insights professionals. On the contrary, critical evaluation of strengths and limitations of AI is more important than ever before. Therefore, strong analytical skills and fluency in applying them across various types of business questions become vital. As Katja Maggio mentioned during our panel conversation: ‘The true art of insights comes from navigating the data and actually not only connecting it to what you’re learning about for your brand, but also about managing the abundance of data.’ 

I also believe that research, analytics and insights professionals need to evaluate critically what is working and what is not working, and never shy away from talking about the things that aren’t working. This is important both for analytics and business best practices. During our panel conversation, Tiphany Yokas also outlined the importance of having ‘confidence and being able to speak your mind’.

To summarize, I recommend researchers, analytics and insights professionals to continue focusing on developing highly impactful and actionable insights and business recommendations and continue critically evaluating strengths and limitations of AI tools and solutions.

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