As part of my role as director of Vision Critical University, I keep an eye on key changes in the insight-gathering business, and share them during the year at conferences, and through articles and blog posts. The embedded video below cover ten themes that I think people should be looking at in 2014.
However, here is the short version of the themes:
1. Mobile is everywhere. During 2014, approaching one-third of online surveys will be taken on mobile devices. There will be more phones than people on the planet, the majority of economically active people in the West will have a smartphone, and most computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) will be completed via mobile. Data collection attitudes need to fully adjust to mobile methods.
2. Google is a mainstream player in the market research sector. Google has been a major player for years in business intelligence (BI), but with tools like Google Consumer Surveys and innovations like Google Glass, it is now specifically in the research business.
3. Facebook is the biggest social media phenomenon in most countries except China, and will be for the whole of 2014 and beyond. It may be less 'special' than some other services, but it is more widely used.
4. Communities continue to be the fastest growing major new research approach. The move from niche to mainstream is almost complete in some business sectors. In many markets, brands without a community face the risk of being the last player in their vertical to adopt ongoing conversations with customers.
5. Big Data is going to have a few successes and many failures. The average ROI for Big Data projects in 2014 is going to be very low, especially when twinned with black box predictive analytics. Companies should follow Nate Silver's advice and consider the limitations of Big Data.
6. The quantified self is going to be the hottest topic in 2014, even though it will be relatively small in terms of insight dollars spent. At this stage my advice would be, look out for case studies, do some RoR, and get involved yourself in some aspect of recording, tracking, and logging.
7. 2014 could be the year the mirror started to crack for the providers of very large tracking studies (e.g. customer satisfaction, brand, and advertising). These studies often cost $10million or more, and in many cases they are failing to deliver. They are not fast enough, too generalised, not predictive, and not sufficiently useful. They have survived on legacy and by being factored into compensation schemes, but it will all come tumbling down - and the tumbling could start this year.
8. Location-based research, for example tracking with GPS and geofencing has been predicted for years. But with the advent of in-store devices like iBeacon, it is ready to take off.
9. Web messaging is shaping up to be the biggest new phenomenon since Facebook. Services such as SnapChat, WhatsApp and WeChat are growing at a phenomenal rate and are changing behaviour patterns. The way they will impact insights is not clear, but they are something that insight professionals should be getting involved in. Whilst it is too early to say what the winner will be, I suggest keeping a special watch on WeChat, which could be the first of the Chinese giants to really break into global prominence.
10. Legislation, a potential disruptive force, could change the digital landscape. Will Google be prosecuted more widely and more often? Can Apple stall Samsung and Android with patent cases? Will Europe protect privacy in ways that make data mining and tracking impossible? Will US "do not track" legislation impact insight gathering? None of these may happen, but they could, as could other changes, and that could impact the competitive context.
If this list has piqued your interest, have a look at the embedded video for a fuller version of my thinking.
I'd love to hear your thoughts? What would you add to the list?