1. Help clients to get value of gathered informationCustomer data should be enriched to incorporate digital profiles, life events, community information, transaction-based insights, customer preferences, sentiment scoring, and so forth in order to get a full picture of the customer. In an increasingly customer-centric world, the ability to capture and use customer insights to shape products, solutions, and the buying experience as a whole is critically important. Better data integration across a range of internal and external sources can cut down on search times and help analysts, auditors, and others spend less time tracking down information and more time applying the results. Professionals can run the numbers on much bigger sets of data, do better vetting, and do it all faster, allowing specialists to apply their skills in other ways. Although the basic requirements of any strategic initiative still apply—articulating a strong and cohesive digital strategy, securing strong leadership backing and the right resources, and prioritizing one or two high-impact pilots—companies don’t need to wait until they have the “perfect” systems or technologies in place.Market research used to take a long time and be costly. But the traditional method of commissioning research on a particular topic and waiting for the results is being replaced by real-time insight, delivered directly through a software platform. Automation obviously allows market researchers to do more, faster and with less. Staff will be able to handle much larger quantities of data and better use processing power A cost-reduction mentality afforded by technology processes might end up spilling over into tasks that can’t yet be automated and this could lead to some good solutions being removed from the decision-making process. Automation further opens up the potential for a dominant supplier to come and distort the market as Google has done, for example, with online advertising. Ultimately, like automation in any sphere, this can lead to less focus and result in job cuts.However, in the future we’ll see more data being stored in an accessible format, with the ability to be easily interrogated with automated tools. Skilled staff will be able to conduct research, and spend more time on insight and less on administration and error-checking. They’ll be able to handle much larger quantities of data and better use processing power.There is a growing trove of data available, through data mining, online surveying (as opposed to telephones), analysis of social media activity, and crawling the internet. So much so that automated software, carefully fine-tuned to suit specific market research needs, is the only way to take full advantage of the data options available. Research firms that are capable of seeing the possibilities and developing the software tools to capitalize on them will deliver exciting new market research options. However, the best and most reliable research products will put a layer of human filtering and analysis on top of algorithm-driven data, in order to exclude bad results, deliver value-added analysis, and convey the meaning of data points that seem to be outliers or anomalies.One market research trend we expect to see is an increased use of online reporting, which will require the evolution of skill sets by data practitioners for use with tools that are deployed.Daily use of technology and research technology development has reached a tipping point that gives researchers a 360-degree view of the consumer’s world before, during and after the research. For marketers that means far deeper, far richer insights into consumer behavior.Combining online and mobile approaches is a powerful way to understand consumers’ entire shopping experience, including pre-shop, in-store and post-shop aspects. Though it may seem daunting, layering these types of tools within a single project can be relatively simple.In other words, it lets researchers better connect with consumers on consumers’ terms and gives consumers appropriate tools to participate where and how they need to with minimal disruption of their daily lives.Over the last several years, the market research industry has been focused on ‘big data,’ using quantitative data to try to target the specific needs of the customers. But all that emphasis on quantitative data can’t provide any perspective on the future market, future opportunities, and future needs of the customers. Big data tells about the past, which is important, but can’t predict the future. Today, more and more companies are realizing the failures of big data, so that the big market research trend for the future will be qualitative market research where they can uncover new needs, new insights, new opportunities that will guide innovation. Big data answers the who, what, where, and when, but only qualitative market research can answer the why — why people shop and why people buy and that is where the future lies for market research.