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Infobesity is the new normal as we switch from information-scarcity to information-overload, with huge volumes of data streaming in from multiple sources. This has created a new need to cope with the volume of data to help distill meaning and aid decision-making.

For users of insights, it means
that data can no longer be viewed in functional silos but from the
uncompromising lens of consumer centricity. It has also created the need for
agility and rapid response mechanism. Clients no longer have the luxury of time
to develop their response strategies, and must now get the right information to
the right function who then must respond with the right strategy – all in real
time.

For practitioners, it means
acquiring new skills to address the new demands. The focus has shifted from data
collection to data synthesis, from purist, precise methods to agnostic, messy
processes and from providing findings to delivering insights, opportunities and
trends.

New demands require new skills  

In this new world of crossbred
practice and protocols, we see three types of demands for the new fused skill
set:

  • Integration and hybridisation: with data no longer being driven by the methodology of its source, we see blurring of the erstwhile qual-quant and even digital divides. Indeed, the need here is to recast the messy, multi-source data to one of unifying consumer centricity.
     
  • Activation: this is as much about the content as it is about the delivery and interface. This is a radical shift for research which historically often stopped with the reporting of insights. Today, there is a need to look specifically at how the insights can be reported to enable activation, bringing the insight alive and matching it to the right business functions, enabling seamless cross-functional opportunities. This means crafting bespoke experiences, activation tools and enablers and working with different kinds of partnerships to do this. And in this transition, we need new briefing tools that help harness across the various partnerships.
  • Discovery:
    this is perhaps the most
    disruptive skill that the new context demands. Today, an abundance of often untidy
    data has meant that the trigger for research is not necessarily one of problem
    but of discovery and scouting for opportunities and patterns.  And with discovery, comes the need to
    progress it to its business fruition, charting out the road map. The scope of
    this new discovery stage, rooted as it is in information, mirrors the more
    consultative approach to insights where we search for opportunities instead of
    answers or solutions. And it might also be an area where the strategic business
    consultant might not possess the critical consumer centricity skills that the
    market researchers and curators bring.
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The new insight journey

The new journey of insights that requires new or different skills can be depicted
as follows:

The process of ongoing
discovery can provide consumer-centric insights and opportunities that transfer
seamlessly over various client functions to build sustained competitive
advantage.

The new skill set

Ipsos has been working to this new landscape since 2016 and undergone a journey of
learning through many hits and misses. We would like to share this journey of
transition, the key lessons learned and the evolving process of identifying,
hiring, training and developing for this new skill set.  So, what are the key lessons, that can help
us invest in the new skill set?

  1. Discovery is mandatary not a luxury: In the new world of Infobesity, the risk of obfuscation, paralysis of action and loss of opportunity is very real. To quote an apocryphal story, it is said that 9/11 happened not because there was no information but because the information and intelligence was not easily accessed by the right decision-makers! Similarly, we cannot afford to have captive data sit in silos only to be reviewed for problems, damage control and discovery as a by-product. Rather, we need an ongoing process to proactively discover opportunities and threats. This also means investing in dedicated skills of marrying consumer opportunities to business functions in a way that enables decision-making. This is not an easy skill or one that has been historically associated with MR. It has been born from the new environment of infobesity that is messy and voluminous.
  2. Consumer centricity is about business, not functions: Data has no power if not applied to live consumer needs. This requires consciously abandoning some of the erstwhile principles of data management – precision, exclusivity, ownership. While different functions and teams can own their data, there is a need for a transversal custodian who can look at data from a consumer centric point of view. This is also emerging in client organisations with new functions created for data custodians, digital transformation programmes, chief information officers and so on.
  3. The discovery journey needs different, transversal skills: Discovery through curation of messy, multi-source data is complex. And expecting one person to have all the necessary skills would mean looking for a super human! The best approach is to look for the right strategic leader who can harness the skills of a diverse team of domain experts, cultural experts and topic specialists across content as well as delivery. This also means going beyond the traditional realm of market researchers to story-tellers, journalists, visualisers, film-makers and more.
  4. Discovery needs human judgement along with technology: A unanimous and early response to Infobesity has been to invest in technology platforms and AI. No doubt, technology is a big ally in managing infobesity but the crucial aspect of building consumer centricity, judgement and prioritisation requires human curation. The skills required to deliver consumer centric insights in a simple, inspiring, personalised and integrated way are all human and work to maximum effect when combined with AI and technology.
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Say hello to the lead strategic curator

At Ipsos, we are
building a consolidated understanding of the new discovery journey. One of our
early learnings was to create and invest in the role of a Lead Strategic Curator who creates the bridge between consumers,
businesses and insights. The Lead Strategic Curator is often an advanced
qualitative insights practitioner, closely wedded to client engagement and
business needs, who is able to harness the right combination of skills to
synthesise the new data streams. 

A Lead Strategic Curator is:

  • A dedicated resource
  • Who understands client business, category and market context
  • Is able to visualise the ecosystem and architecture for a consumer centric delivery/interface of discovery
  • Identifies the specific skills required to work with different data sets and domains, helping pull together the right set of experts
  • Can connect the dots across research and wider intelligence to build meta learning insights
  • Works actively with client stakeholders and functions to create bespoke interventions and events that help socialise and activate insights for impact

The wider practice of curation at Ipsos today includes a swat team of dedicated Lead Strategic Curators who possess strong narrative story-telling skills, and embed basic curation skills within the different research specialisms to create new capabilities for the delivery and interface of consumer centric insights.



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