I spent most of this week in Atlanta at the Insight Innovation Exchange. All I can say is, “Whew!” There must have been 100 presentations over the three days, most a merciful 20 minutes with a few meatier 40 minute sessions mixed in. Coming on the heels of MRMW in Chicago just two weeks ago I am in a serious state of information overload.
To state the obvious, the whole point of this event was to showcase innovation in MR. It impressed me as a sort of MR version of the Consumers Electronics Show, and I mean that as a compliment. Several years ago (I can’t remember exactly when) I was interviewed by ESOMAR’s Research World on the topic of, “Is market research innovative enough?” (I said I thought it was.) Then again, several of the conferences I’ve attended over the last couple of years had speakers worrying about us not innovating enough. I am hard pressed to imagine anyone coming away from Atlanta believing that there is not enough innovation in market research.
But there is a catch and a couple of panel sessions brought that home: the take up rate with clients is nowhere near what some would expect given the explosion of new techniques. The innovation funnel is full if not overflowing, but other than a few home runs like mobile and communities, not much is filtering down to the mainstream (forgive the mixed metaphor).
One reason for that, I believe, is that many of these innovations are being driven by entrepreneurs from outside of MR whose main focus is the technologies themselves, rather than a clear understanding of clients’ unmet needs. Clients will always listen to faster and cheaper, but so far they don’t seem to have found the rest of the value proposition offered by most of these innovations all that compelling.
I heard Innovation guru Clayton Christensen mentioned more than once but no one offered up my favorite quote from The Innovator’s Dilemma. “Customers control what companies can and cannot do.” There was a lot of navel gazing in Atlanta, and I did my share, but getting to know our clients better might move us farther faster.