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In my latest post for ESOMAR, I argued that technology is accelerating the need for data transparency. (The post was inspired by Bono's speech on "the good news on poverty,Û a TED talk that showed, based on data, that the end of poverty is in sight.) Pretty soon, the biggest forces that will disrupt market research and marketing will be a mixture of technology and transparency. In fact, it is technology that is fueling the trend to transparency.

Both marketing and market research professionals should embrace this emerging disruption. But it's also critical that both groups understand the implication of the increasing demand for transparency. Here's what we can expect in the next five years:

  1. Customers will demand more transparency in exchange for their data and feedback.

Customers want their voice to be heard, but they will increasingly demand to know what brands are collecting and what they're doing with that information. Brands need to collect feedback in a non-intrusive way; customer engagement needs to be short and to the point. Brands should also inform people how their input will be used and the outcome of their feedback.

  1. Governments will place more legislation.

While we can expect government action, I predict that legislation will remain behind the times. Technology is moving very quickly, and people leave a trail of data that has never been bigger. Brands must proactively take action to be more transparent with what they do.

  1. Brands will want more information.

Buyers of customer data will demand more information about the people that they are talking to. For instance, companies that use access panels or those that access business intelligence will demand more transparency on where the input and data come from.

  1. Marketing and research professionals will demand more transparency.

Modern-day researchers will want greater access to information from brands and governments so they can make better-informed decisions.

Transparency is particularly important because customers are more empowered than ever. And for MR to thrive today, we need to embrace the fact that the convergence of social, mobile and cloud technologies is empowering our customers with access to unlimited information. The age of the customer has fundamentally altered the balance of power between buyer and seller: marketers and MR need to lead the charge in pushing for greater transparency. We don't have a choice.

If you'd like to learn more, please read my article on the ESOMAR blog.

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Peter Harris

Peter Harris helps brands build authentic customer relationships through technology. Pioneering customer intelligence since 2010, Peter Harris has led Vision Critical Asia Pacific to become the largest customer intelligence software provider, supporting over 140 customer-led brands, in Asia Pacific such as Telstra, Adobe and Cathay Pacific. With deep roots in research and strategy, Peter has championed the future of research and technology across his leadership roles at prominent research organisations, including AMSRS, APRC and GRBN.
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