The insight industry has a golden opportunity to step up and provide leadership for business in the current climate, but first the industry itself needs an overhaul if it’s to help others.
It is a horrible thing to have to acknowledge, however many insight businesses will not exist in 6 months unless they adapt, be more useful to business and are seen to be paying their way. Whilst many brand owners are in the midst of reducing capital expenditure and investment across multiple areas of their business, there is a real danger that insight and market research budgets will become decimated (and not just for the short term).
Now is probably the golden opportunity the insight industry has been waiting for to prove its worth. Despite cutbacks, business will be looking to innovate. Operating models and propositions will need re-engineering. Smaller corporates that didn’t have a data and digital transformation strategy in place will be scrambling to become fitter for the future.
So, what exactly does the insight industry need to address to become more helpful?
The Insight Industry has become fragmented, siloed and highly specialised over recent years. We’ve seen the rise of user research, UX, service design, behavioural economics, digital analytics, big data solutions, along with new and innovative methods such as AI, all complimenting, or sometimes even competing directly with traditional insight areas, such as market research. Largely this has been a good thing, but it has also created a problem. The insight industry is not integrated, the industry doesn’t sing with one voice. It can be confusing for the people who work in it never mind the end users.
1) The insight industry needs to be less complicated and easier to do business with.
The rise of new specialisms has been a good thing, but the fragmentation of the industry has created a headache for brand owners. Many client-side professionals are increasingly courting multiple insight specialists to get what they need, and this is becoming increasingly inefficient and expensive as the industry continues to fragment. Independent Insight businesses that provide access to multiple areas of expertise ‘in one place’ will be of more use than those that don’t.
2) Insight practitioners need to help business reduce expense and costs by being more efficient.
Data and digital transformation projects have been rich pickings in recent years for the big 5 accounting firms, such as Deliotte, KPMG etc. That’s why they’ve been gobbling up insight businesses over the last 10 years. If traditional insight businesses can come together independently and offer more holistic end-to-end insight solutions, they will be able to provide some of the services on offer from the bigger consultancies at a fraction of the cost (e.g. data engineering, platform development to segmentation, etc.). This will undoubtedly mean consolidation or closer strategic partnerships at the very least.
3) The need for more agility, creativity and further integration with brand owners
Many corporates don’t have an insight team, and those that do have already begun downsizing. Yet business needs more insight than ever. The ability of an insight business to offer end-to-end insight solutions, on tap when it’s needed, is likely to be attractive. Whether it’s UX development, enhancing data capability, or a short burst of marketing effectiveness work. The ability of an insight provider to dial up and down support when it’s most needed will be an appealing proposition for many businesses that are looking to reduce their cost base and capital expenditure.
In summary, there are three key themes emerging for how the Insight Industry needs to evolve post Covid-19 to be of more use to business.
The insight industry needs to be more efficient, more integrated and more agile. This all leads down a logical path of consolidation or deeper collaboration within the insight industry itself.
Cards on the table, that’s why I’ve founded Destination 5.0>, a collective of five leading data insight and market research specialists, in their respective fields. Our collective mission is to work together and provide smarter, more affordable end-to end insight and research support for business, in one easy place.