Managing Director of Interact RDT, Gary Greenfield, is no stranger to the research industry, and with many years of experience in the field, he's become quite a pro with spotting trends and steering clear of fads.
Here are 7 of his top predictions and priorities for 2014:#1 Evolution of Methodologies
It's becoming mandatory to do qualitative and quantitative research simultaneously. Because of the changing nature and role of research within organisations, it's simply impossible for clients to gain a meaningful view of their consumers by just looking at the numbers.
For this reason, methodologies need to adapt and be enhanced with the necessary capacity to be able to equip organisations with a full picture. #2 The Year for conversations
Research should and will take on a far more conversational approach this year. It's not just about questions and answers but actually opening the floor to dialogue.
It's about understanding the person and not the data, this applies to all stakeholders. There's been a growing focus on the consumer, without the same growth in focussing on internal customers.
For this reason, organisations should invest more time and budget into looking inward and using the feedback of employees and other internal stakeholders to improve the way they do business. #3 Focussing on the individual
This is an important step in building customer loyalty. Instead of feedback being perceived by customers to be a waste of time, organisations can ensure that they use it as a point of contact and complaint resolution with each individual.
As well as discovering collective insights and issues focus needs to be placed on individual escalation and ensuring that if a consumer gives a review, whether positive or negative, this feedback is acknowledged and addressed. #4 Information desperation
There's a marked increase in clients interest in the volume of research information available. They are desperate to get as much of it as possible, hence the craze toward big data.
The question posed to organisations however, is that once the information is in your possession - how do you use it?
An emerging issue with research is that clients are requesting longer surveys with more varied outcomes which has the negative effect of diluting objectives and compromising on the quality of data.
For this reason, it's a good idea to be specific and aim for a sound strategy with actionable plans, rather than a mass of data with no way of drawing value from it. #5 Think Simple. Think Strategic
This is perhaps one of the most powerful weapons in a research manager's arsenal - for 2014 especially.
A strategically logical and sound approach is far more valuable than an unlimited spend. And unlimited spend is a luxury that nobody has in this economic climate, so the moral here is to think smart and save.
The simpler a process is, the more likely it is to work. In the same way, you can get a lot more out of smaller more sustainable research projects than you can from a once-off initiative.
And if you are still set on the idea of big data, that's ok, but there's still the challenge of actioning something meaningful from it - and this is where a strategic planning and communication is key. #6 Time to market
This will be a major challenge for both organisations and research providers in 2014.
For organisations, the key will be to balance the time constraints with the actual value of the research they are doing, and of course resisting the urge to cut corners.
For businesses the real challenge will be in meeting the needs of their clients, and adapting their offerings to suit budget and time constraints. Businesses need to enhance volume and efficiency of research without the costs skyrocketing - this is somewhere that online research can really shine.
It will be the responsibility of both parties to keep the consumers voice from getting lost by ensuring that research is done regularly and relevantly. #7 Going Mobile
Instead of looking to the latest global gadget and technology, this is the year to shine the spotlight on our continent.
With the boom in online research, the new challenge we face will be adapting online methodologies to suit a mobile audience, and perhaps even expanding on the use of feature phones to complete research, think USSD codes.
It's about finding relevant technology that enables a wider audience to join the conversation. All in all..
It's definitely going to be a year of change, and it's up to all players in the industry to make sure we carry research and customer experience forward in 2014.