Exclusive Interview: How Technology is ‘Perfecting’ Market Research

From the collection of data to the curation of insights,
technology is disrupting market research at
every turn. And, it’s new technologies that are driving this significant
change. Traditional research just isn’t enough anymore. Brand new ways of working
including are requiring that look at research through a different lens. They
are enabling us to gather insights in new and exciting ways, but also
inundating us with myriad sources of data about users that needs to be
synthesized.
Fortunately, this year the producers of The Market
Research Event present InsighTech:
Innovations in Research Methodology & Technology
– an event that covers
innovative new ways to deploy mainstream methodologies and presents emerging
technology likely to disrupt the industry even further. We recently sat down
with our InsighTech keynote speaker Keith Ferrazzi, CEO, Ferrazzi Greenlight to
discuss how technology is disrupting market research.

Here’s what Keith had to say:
IIR: How is
technology disrupting and transforming market research?
Ferrazzi: Technology
isn’t disrupting market research, it is perfecting it! What once was
survey-based and qualified by outcomes can now be measured in real time. With
the advent of digital platforms, we are learning how people behave in
an unprecedented manner. This means we now can figure out what images or
content actually is working because of click-through and time spent on site, as
well as which function of a company’s intranet is providing the most value-based
on engagement rates. With this data we can easily tweak one variable at a time
and see what the results are. 
We are only just beginning to see
the possibility of technology and understanding how people interact
with the market, but with the inclusion of big data and digital behavior
mining, be prepared to see not only marketing but products more finely tuned to
our needs and desires.
IIR: How is
Ferrazzi Greenlight specifically disrupting market research?
Ferrazzi: One
thing we do is we use technology to identify top performers in companies so
that we can extract valuable information from them as a way to accrue
and curate best practices to train to the larger employee base. We’re
crowd-sourcing training to allow each organization we work with devise their
own best practices and train to them instead of walking in saying, “Here’s
what’s going to work for
you.” We may use technology to identity them,
but old-fashioned interviews are still the best way
to get at how your employees behaviors influence their day-to-day
activities. Sometimes you need both old school and new school techniques to be
successful.
IIR: How do you
sort through the current technology trends to uncover what will eventually
change how you do business?
Ferrazzi: I’m
lucky in that I have an in-house team developing technologies to help
in the corporate space, so I rely on them and their expertise to keep me
informed on new products and opportunities. I will never be able
to know everything about every line of corporate acceleration/market
research, but if I empower the right people and make it a priority that they
come to me with anything they uncover in their daily lives, I can be exposed to
enough to determine good trends and where I should research further for
opportunities.
IIR: In the
digital age, what is the new consumer angle at Ferrazzi Greenlight?
Ferrazzi: Same as
it’s always been, improved experience. What this means now, though, is
that we have an ability to hear the consumer through the entire buying cycle.
From social media chatter and sentiment analysis to analytics on their website
experience, we are able to see how the consumer interacts with a given
product/brand. 
IIR: How do you
harness the power of social, attitudinal, and behavioral data for deeper
consumer insights?
Ferrazzi: This
data is gold to any new CEO, sales lead, etc. At the end of the day, you need
this data to take your product from being guess work to targeted services
tailored to the needs of your consumers. But data will only take you so
far. This will always be iterative and a learning process. Just because
you see a demand for something doesn’t mean you will immediately discover the
execution that is desired. You need to find and trust your creativity to
express the solution to the data.
IIR: How is
gamification affecting market research?
Ferrazzi: Gamification
is a hot topic right now. The goal of gamification is to increase engagement
with a given product, app, or service. What that really is are incentives.
There are some very fascinating discoveries being made about the
value and implementation of incentives. You need to choose a rewards
model that works best for your given situation and it needs to be
unique. So if gamification, leaderboards, badges, etc. work to help your sales
team succeed, excellent! But perhaps the reward needs to be more emotional
in nature, the more they sell, the more gets donated to the charity of their
choice. Both of these “games” could help drive your business
outcomes, but it’s up to you to determine which works best.
IIR: How is
wearable technology affecting market research?
Ferrazzi: Wearable
technology is going to be a huge new market research opportunity, but I have
found that the vast majority of the data that these toys (Nike fuelbands,
 Jawbone Up, the FitBit) are only gathering very basic information limited
to the accelerometers weakness of only tracking certain kinds of activity.
You only get a small amount of data. In time though, that
data married to other data from other smart devices in your life will allow
market research to become unimaginably personalized. Just as a Nest home system
learns your patterns and behaviors to know when to
turn up or down the heat or turn on or off lights to suite your
needs, so too will marketers learn patterns in their audience and better
understand what drives or motivates it.
IIR: Where do you
see market research technology going in five years?
Ferrazzi: Five
years is a huge window to discuss. What I think is the biggest debate that will
shape the next five years is the nature of what data we deem should be
available to marketers from our interactions with technology. Some argue that
all of this should be protected and private. Other argue that if you
are using their platform, say a free Instagram account, you trade your personal
data for use of a fun photo sharing experience with friends. Depending upon
how public sentiment swings, what we learn from people and technology is
entirely too big and varied to conceive.
IIR: What is the
best innovation in market research that you have seen?
Ferrazzi: It
isn’t a single program, or application, but rather a creative mind that can
look at the data coming from a variety of sources and find the through line.
Data by itself is wonderful, but the amount of data we are beginning to receive
is overwhelming. It takes a clever human (not technology) to
sort through the sea of data to discover the truth behind it. We are not
beyond the point where human ingenuity and understanding should be
undervalued. Artificial intelligence will always need human intelligence
to guide it. So if you want the best market research, find yourself a
curious mind and give that person the tools to go explore. 
IIR: How does the
Internet of Things drive more meaningful consumer connections?
Ferrazzi: It’s
still a relatively new concept, but with all the “smart” options of everything
from TVs to refrigerators to even vacuum cleaners being introduced on a regular
basis, we’re no longer being dictated to by manufacturers. There’s a more fluid
relationship between consumer and producer.  This level of interaction
creates an almost dialogue and helps fine tune products to a changing base.
Want to hear more
from Ferrazzi? Don’t miss his keynote
presentation
entitled, ‘Research Drives the Intersection of Human
Relationships and Software in Groundbreaking New Platforms’ taking place on
Tuesday, May 5th at 9:30 am in San Francisco, CA.

About the Author:
Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and
print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing,
and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs
including Next Big DesignCustomers 1stDigital Impact, STEAM Accelerator and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business
Analysts
, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,.
She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where
she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She
can be reached at aciccatelli@iirusa.com. Follow her at @AmandaCicc.