How Technology & Automation is Transforming Consumer Insights

Naira Musallam, PhD - Nov 15 2019

If you are part of a consumer insights team, UI/UX research team, or leading some product innovation, there is a good chance primary research is part of your research repertoire – collecting direct data points from your targeted consumers, so you can understand their behaviors and sentiments, to be able to deliver the best product or service to them.

Depending on your budget, how data driven your business decisions are, and your internal team’s needs, you could be launching a handful or dozens of projects a year.  

Are you collecting data, downloading it to Excel sheets, manually formatting and cleaning your dataset, then building pivot tables, significance testing, regressions, or even trying to review basic descriptive statistics all in the name of creating a deliverable or getting to some final ‘data driven’ decision?

If so, then you probably don’t have much time for anything else. That is, if you were able to get to all of the types of analysis you had hoped for.

Insights work will continue to become multi-dimensional. Meaning that brands will have to think through which solutions and partners serve which particular use case.

With the exponential increase in the amount of data captured and the changing dynamic of consumers, getting to the final destination can’t happen on a single lane road.

Automation within the consumer insights space is here to stay. Of that, there isn’t much debate. While we’ve heard it can induce anxiety amongst individuals as it relates to job security, the fact is that automation and the use of technology throughout history has either created new jobs or made existing jobs much easier.

In the present-day consumer insights industry, and for the foreseeable future, we are dealing with the latter. In fact, in more ways than one, bringing technology and automation to your consumer insights work is positively changing the workplace.  

Here are four ways automation of consumer insights can transform how your work is done:

Capitalizing on Human Potential

It has been estimated that about 80% of an analyst’s time is spent on collecting, cleaning, and reformatting datasets in order to even begin any meaningful analysis. Only 20% of their time is spent on the actual analysis itself.

Unless the industry has changed more than we even realized, consumer insights teams weren’t hired to spend all day in Excel sheets.

By utilizing sophisticated tools, you can save yourself a significant amount of time and energy by allowing technology to do the dirty work for you – clean, organize, analyze. Then you can do what you were hired to do, interpret the results and think strategically about the impact of the research and then present important insights and trends (and have a lot more time to do it).

Technology, and the tools that automate a lot of these tasks are an enabler. Help them help you.

Cross Functional Collaborations

Some automated tools have features built into them that allow for collaboration. They enable users and teams to collaborate on project creation, monitor the progress of data collection, and view results together, and in real-time. These tools that can break down silos, a major pain points mid and large size companies struggle with.

Automation can enable consumer insights, UI/UX, innovation/R&D, marketing, and sales to all work collaboratively on business challenges, share those insights, support each other, and learn from each other easier and much more efficiently.

In order for cross functional collaboration to happen and be effective, the teams themselves need to have that collaborative mentality. That is something cannot provide.

Technology can assist, make easier, add efficiency, to deliver results, and one and on, but the million-dollar question is whether we will get behind it.

Experimentation & Learning #BeCurious

Because automation makes it easier, faster, and cheaper to get relevant information from your research conducting research projects and experimentation at scale becomes much more feasible. The willingness to experiment and learn is a major competitive advantage for any company or team size in any industry.

Consumers are still evolving and have already changed drastically in terms of how they shop, behave, and engage with brands. In order to maintain relevance, brands need to adopt a willingness to learn, experiment, and be curious as a core cultural value, or otherwise, they may risk losing relevance.

Time for Thinking

Free your time for thinking. Late nights and weekend work because the report isn’t done on time?

By having results available immediately and analyses done in real-time provides an opportunity to focus on your brand and the strategy needed for success.

Technology and the various types of automation available hold immense potential to positively transform our lives, the way we work, and how we get things done.

Early adopters understand that automation will not get rid of their jobs, but instead aid in their work and help them become the important assets for their company that they were hired to be.


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