Michalis Michael is CEO of Digital MR, a company that uses AI in market research and consumer insight. We caught up with Michael to learn how he and his team are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I am the CEO of DigitalMR, a tech company in the data analytics and market research sector. We have developed two AI based SaaS platforms – communities247 and listening247- which collect and analyse solicited and unsolicited customer opinion respectively.

How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?

We have always been a ‘remote first’ company, so thankfully working remotely is built into all our processes. The only real change is that we used to work from our London office once a week and now that isn’t possible. Other than that, our set-up and activity is business as usual.

What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?

Before the pandemic, we were already using Slack, Google Hangouts Meet, and Zoom, and these tools continue to be really useful for us to keep up communication. Each of our teams have individual ‘stand-up’ meetings every day for around 15 minutes, and we hold a leadership stand-up meeting after that, which ensures the whole company is aligned within the first 60 minutes of the day.

Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?

The Mercedes Formula 1 team has really impressed me, as well as Gails, Workspace and Nielsen. Each of them has done something altruistic to help others during this crisis.

What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?

We have focused a lot of time on publishing helpful and informative digital content with concrete tips to help companies support their customers throughout the current challenges. The content is shared across multiple online channels to ensure it can be accessed by as many people as possible as we all try to navigate these times of uncertainty.

What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?

The obvious change is that the physical focus group discussions and face to face surveys sometimes held by brands to understand consumer behaviour can no longer go ahead, and they have needed to turn to online focus group discussions using online research platforms such as communities247.

The other significant change we have noticed is that many brands are turning their attention to tracking the social media chatter around the pandemic to understand consumer behaviour change.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

Research shows that only 9% of companies flourished in previous recessions. In order to gain market share and be one of those companies [even if they don’t produce face masks or toilet paper], brands need to stay engaged with their customers and keep their ears on the ground. My advice would be to make the most of social media listening and analytics in order to improve brand equity during the lockdown and be well positioned for growth on day one, and to make advertising and PR activity a priority.

What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your agency?

We have taken the current pandemic as an opportunity to press the reset button by looking at things from a new perspective. We recognise that a narrow focus on our core competency – multilingual social intelligence – along with rightsizing the business with current revenue will guarantee our survival even if the lockdown effects will last for the next 12 months. With this in mind, we have expanded the periphery of our service offering through partnerships. When the pandemic is over, we aim to resume our series A fundraising round, which was part of the PWC RAISE programme, in order to further invest in our business and expand our presence globally.