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Last week in San Francisco, more than 50 representatives from leading technology brands such as Facebook, Google, Apple, HP, Amazon, Twitter, Samsung and Uber attended our thought-provoking meetup. The meetup was a collaboration with Tony Tong, the senior market research manager at LinkedIn, Colan Neese, the audience insights manager at Twitch, and Harry Brisson, the director of lab and VR research at Nielsen.

Together, we discussed how brands are leveraging agile insight to influence positive change for their customers. In other words, how truly customer-centric brands use real-time customer insight to make better business decisions in less time.

Several key challenges and trends emerged from our discussions.

1. Meeting the need for agile market research

Tearing a page from agile product teams, decision makers across the entire business need to work collaboratively in a series of shorter, faster cycles. But agile management only works if it incorporates rapid feedback. To support this need, there’s been a rise in agile market research, where a team of stakeholders collect and share instant, reliable customer feedback. By adopting customer intelligence tools that foster ongoing conversations with users and customers, companies like LinkedIn have been able to successfully infuse agile thinking into the research process.

2. Transforming big data into big dollars

There’s no shortage of available data sources today. The trick is to understand how to turn the data that brands already have into relevant and usable insight. Not enough decision makers understand how to use and monetize data effectively.

3. Thriving in the next wave of IoT and connected devices

We’re in the infancy of the Internet of Things, but Bain & Company says it could become a $470 billion market by 2020. To capitalize on this potential, innovators must have the right product, at the right time and in the right market. This will depend on a deep understanding of customer needs, behavior and attitudes—and how they change over time.

4. Improving agility through direct and instant access to customers

To get closer to the customer, business leaders need direct and instant access to their customers. By understanding customer actions, attitudes and opinions, leaders can make better business decisions to boost sales, enhance experiences and drive loyalty.

5. Finding new ways to engage hard-to-reach customers

Rather than thinking that customers are hard to reach, brands should learn to engage with them where they are, on their terms and timing. For example, if customers feel most comfortable on social media, that’s where brands should connect and start building authentic relationships. Likewise, customers will be more likely to engage with brands if they know how their information and feedback will be used.

6. Making sense of data from multiple sources

With social networks, support, advocate and other online communities, brands find it challenging to determine the best source of customer intelligence. Whereas social networks are dominated by a noisy minority of people who may not reflect your customer base, insight communities help brands build authentic relationships, while gathering continuous consumer feedback, opinions and preferences. Insight communities allow brands to collect, connect and capture real, actionable insight.

Want to stay in the know about upcoming events? Let’s connect on LinkedIn and I’ll keep you in the loop.

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