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At a fictional market research meeting, there are protesters outside yelling “What do you want?”. The throngs of client research buyers respond “Quality insights!”. And the journalists shake their heads wondering what they did to deserve covering this story. Because this story has been told many times.

Quality insights is what clients are buying and suppliers are selling. From such a perspective, our industry still has significant opportunities for improvement. Buyers’ satisfaction with suppliers is low at 55%. In 2019, the lowest-rated industry measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index was subscription cable TV services. That industry has a 62% satisfaction score…

It’s therefore incredibly valuable for this GRIT edition to explore the drivers of satisfaction in our industry. These include, in no particular order: understanding the business issue, understanding the research issue, telling a compelling story, providing good service, conducting good research, and providing good recommendations. These component parts constitute the real definition of “Quality Insights”. It is hard to leave any one of these out and be successful – whether you are an internal research department or an insights supplier.

In some cases, we are already making those needed improvements. More buyers and suppliers are using a wider variety of tools that are closely fit for purpose to execute research targeted to client needs. And those organizations that follow this path are generally doing better, based on budget and revenue.

Additionally, our industry is making the necessary investments in people and technology to stay at the forefront. Data Analysts and Data Scientists are key hiring priorities for many organizations along with investments in analytic platforms and data integration.

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From a consulting perspective, people with skills in storytelling and visualization expertise are in high demand. And again, the technology investment in dashboards and other visualization tools support the need for the insights to be aligned to performance metrics and actionable recommendations.

There are other positive developments to note such as increased efficiency illustrated by the somewhat inverse relationship between the number of projects being done and the amount of money to do them. Also, the use of iterative, agile approaches is making our insights timelier and more embedded in the overall business processes. The budget growth we’ve seen from last year is encouraging and points to someone doing something right! And lastly, the talent that is leading the industry today represents a wider variety of skills, backgrounds, and areas of focus than has ever been the case before.

We have a LOT of work to do, but we are getting there. And I for one continue to enjoy the journey, even if I would prefer to step a little harder on the accelerator – as long as we don’t smash into those protesters (I like them!).

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