At IIeX North America this year, I was interviewed by my friend and longtime industry watcher, Jamin Brazil, about trends in the market research space. An interesting topic that came up was the question of scaling versus growth for businesses.
In the past century, a lot of businesses grew big by scaling. A great example of this was toy store chain, Toys R Us, who in the 1990s were one of the biggest toy store company in the US and fast getting popular in other parts of the world. Two decades later, in March of last year, they declared bankruptcy and shut down. Was it smugness? Not really. The stores continued to create great customers experience in stores and continued to expand. What they didn’t do is anticipate digital disruption and adapt to new technology-enabled business models, not fast enough at least. They did not see the complete disruption of the consumer buying process through online channels like Amazon.com and the fast loss of their user base to virtual games and digital entertainment. And that big box stores like Walmart would start stocking the same game brands. They simply failed to move in the new directions the world was taking.
Technology today is fast changing how we live and work and businesses need to urgently innovate and explore new technology-enabled business models to grow. This could mean evolving their core products and services, diversifying their business, shifting to new pure play digital offerings, or simply finding new ways to serve the changing customer.
Market research companies today – many who continue to scale old ways of doing things – are facing a similar crisis. The emergence of new data sources, digital analytics, and machine learning technologies is changing the very nature of the insights industry, with speed being just one of the factors that have collapsed. The value of traditional survey-based insights is increasingly being questioned in new contexts. To get on the path of growth once again and enable their clients’ growth in the new business environment, MR businesses must be quick to adopt new technologies, new data paradigms, and new technology-driven business models that will help them deliver undisputed value to business at growing speeds.
The combined power of digital analytics and AI is especially revolutionizing the business of insights through more sophisticated automation, tremendously faster data processing, self-learning and self-improvising analytics systems, democratic data delivery systems, and the ability to deliver end outcomes at almost real time speeds.
As we work with global clients and implement new technologies and new ways of finding and using insights, the first thing to turn obsolete is a fear of the future.
Hear excerpts from the interview: Driving Growth in the MR Space
(Note: This article was also published on LinkedIn)