Automated market research — Our big threat or a great opportunity?
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Automated market research — Our big threat or a great opportunity?

Date
Jan 20, 2021
Tags
Market research trends
Author
Andrea Mrša
Reading time
4 min

The market research industry is continuously challenged to be faster, cheaper, and better. With the rise of automated market research, one might say we are on an excellent path to achieving that. And we sure are. There are more than a few reasons that go in favor of adopting automation. Still, some experts argue that automation in market research isn’t quite as innovative as it should be. In other words, its full potential is not quite utilized yet.

Is this really the case? Is adopting automation inevitable for market research prosperity? If so, will it bring more good or bad to the table? Will automated market research eliminate the need for human labor?

Let’s find out.

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Market research automation - a threat or an opportunity?

Automation is a market research trend that is taking over a big part of our lives and is changing the way we work. As far as market research goes, it is predicted that 40%-60% of existing jobs will disappear in the next 5 years, while at the same time 20%-30% new ones will be created. Even those who “survive” will inevitably be affected by automation at some point. This raises the logical question: “Is automation our friend or our enemy?”

There was research conducted by McKinsey in 2016. that analyzed more than 2000 work activities for more than 800 occupations to discover which ones are the most susceptible to automation.

The factors taken into consideration were:

  1. time spent on the activities
  2. technical feasibility of automation

Interestingly, the results showed that data collection and data processing were two out of the three most susceptible activities — right after predictable psychical work.

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However, it is essential to note that, even when the job has the technical possibility of automation, it doesn’t mean it will be automated.

According to McKinsey, one should consider other factors such as:

  1. cost of automation,
  2. skills, scarcity, and cost of workers who otherwise might do the activity
  3. benefits of automation over the human labor
  4. regulatory considerations

What this means is that, even when one’s job might completely be taken over by automation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be. Technically, a nurse could be replaced by automation eventually, but the lack of human contact people expect to receive would be inadequate. At least at this point.

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Automated market research benefits

When thinking about factors that go in favor of automation in market research processes, speed is the first thing that pops up in one’s mind. However, it is definitely not the only one worth mentioning.

Besides speed, automation:

  1. Provides more with less embracing automation in work process will result in more research being conducted at a lower cost
  2. Enables the researcher to focus on things that matter — by automating repetitive, time-consuming processes, the researcher itself has more time to work on bringing valuable insights
  3. Reduces error — the more repetitive the task is (eg. manual data cleaning, or data entry), the higher is the chance of making the error
  4. Encourages transparency between team members — visually appealing dashboards on the platform are easily accessible to all team members, which makes it easier for everyone to be engaged and see the direct impact of certain initiatives

On the other side...

Automation is not omnipotent. Not all tasks can and will be automated due to machine learning limitations. If we look into social media analysis, it’s still a bit challenging to completely rely on machine learning for precise insight. For example, text analysis is still not able to separate sarcasm from real intentions, so there is a certain risk of misinterpretation.

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The Unused Potential of Automated Market Research

Even with automation taking over a substantial part of data collecting, sampling to data analysis, some market research professionals consider that automated market research has a long way to go in terms of potential. The current way automated market research is used is quite conservative, compared to what it could become.

According to JD Deitch, even though market research processes are already automated to some extent, there is still big potential in:

  1. Evaluation of respondent engagement — this can help with matching the right person with the right survey, which would have a direct impact on their satisfaction, reducing the drop off rate, and improving the data quality
  2. Field monitoring — automation enables researchers to be attentive through all project phases, making sure nothing slips away and that all anomalies are detected on time
  3. Feasibility process — automating the feasibility process helps with estimating a project more accurately with greater speed and dependability
  4. Recruitment — automation of the recruitment process allows the researcher to trace panelist’s engagement and attentiveness, which leads to a higher completion rate and greater reach

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Conclusion

To sum it all up, automated market research is inevitable if we want market research to prosper. As more tasks will be subjected to automation, there will be a decreased need for certain roles. But at the same time, new possibilities will be unlocked, requesting a whole new skillset. Automated market research, even though it plays a big role in collecting, sorting, and analyzing data is not expected to entirely eliminate the need for human labor. And it’s not intended to. The real question should not be whether the researcher is going to be replaced by automated market research or not. The question should be, how we can work together towards the most optimal results.

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