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IIEX North America
IIEX North America
April 23, 2024

IIEX Hot Topic: AI Changing the Role of Consumer Insights

I returned from Austin, Texas, with a bag of new connections and inspiring conversations. The IIEX North America, a two-day conference, focused on insight innovation, truly showcased an industry undergoing a full-blown transformation – or, as some said, a technological disruption.

I had a really insightful conversation with Niels Neudecker, Product Group Lead at Walmart Data Ventures, about the impact of technology on the role of insights teams. This was clearly one of the major discussion trends at IIEX. As Niels later wrote on LinkedIn, “The Top 3 market research trends according to IIEX attendees – identified by AI: 96% AI, 87% Change, 74% Synthetic Data.

From Doing Research to Strategic Marketing

I had the pleasure of discussing the first two topics from the Green Stage with Suann Griffin, Senior Insights Director at Serta Simmons Bedding. I found the discussion about the evolving role of insights teams particularly interesting. Suann emphasized that the role is shifting from conducting research to becoming a strategic marketing function. She noted that the increase in complex business questions is relentless; we need to do more with fewer resources and shift our focus from mere research to strategic thinking.

Early and Often

Another interesting insight from my conversation with Suann was the need for speed. We’re not only being asked complex questions but are also expected to drive change and deliver results like never before. We need to rethink some of the ways we gather insights to be able to do it “early and often,” and technology enables us to do that.

Don’t Lose the Human Touch – I See You!

Not surprisingly, when discussing AI, the conversation also revolves around not losing the human touch. More often than not, the discussion wasn’t about human craft versus technology but about maintaining empathy and a genuine “I see you” approach amidst the rise of AI and technology, which was also a dominant theme.

The Future of Democratizing Insights – Marketing Tools?

With more than 60 vendors, mostly leveraging technology, I also had some fascinating conversations about the potential democratization of insights. The list of industry transformations leading to democratization is long, especially in marketing.

History is rich with category creators like WordPress, HubSpot, Mailchimp, and one of my personal latest favourites, Figma, which enable marketing professionals to make what was normally reserved for specialists available at their fingertips. It’s not a question of if, but when, we will start seeing an early adoption of marketing tools that deliver end-to-end quality insights, bringing marketers closer to consumers and increasing responsiveness.

From a personal perspective, as a veteran marketer, I find this trend extremely interesting. In 2008, with the rise of social media, I firsthand saw the emergence of tech-focused companies dying to create and dominate new marketing tool categories like Social Media Management and Monitoring. This is most likely bound to repeat itself.

Next stop on the conference caravan is my second home, London and the Quirk’s event in May, hope to see you there!

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