What About the People?Training the Next Generation of Research ProsLisa Courtade
Evolution is not a New Concept
Why a Sea Change Now?
The Gap is Increasingly Widening
The Perfect Storm
Who is the Researcher of the Future?
Where is the Talent?
So, is this the end?
Signs of Light
Attracting the Right Talent
The Next Chapter in Our Evolution
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What About the People? Training the Next Generation of Research Pros by Lisa Courtade of Merck & Co., Inc. - Presented at the Insight Innovation eXchange North America 2013


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There is general appreciation across the profession that the researcher of the future looks very different than he does today. Practitioners, futurists, and commentators alike share a vision of the researcher as a business consultant, a strategist, a data integrator and synthesizer, and of course, a social/digital media maven. Industry prophets foretell of decreasing influence, irrelevance, and even extinction of the profession if transformation is not achieved. In striking contrast to the preponderance of discussion regarding what is needed in this evolved researcher, is the lack of guidance around exactly how practitioners of the profession of marketing research are going get from point A, to that not so distant point Z.

As budgets and headcount are reduced on the client side and supplier side agencies are squeezed for revenue and ever shrinking margins, training and development opportunities are increasingly limited. Complicating this picture, in a constrained economic environment where employer sponsorship is dwindling and individuals are making their own financial trade-offs, associations and academic institutions compete for a decreasing pool of prospects who are dissatisfied with the status-quo and demand access to emerging techniques and skills.

Perhaps the criticism that the profession itself, and the institutions that serve it, are too slow to adapt to the needs of the future are well founded. Perhaps not. Let’s begin the conversation about how we collectively solve this dilemma and ensure that marketing researchers lead the way into the future, rather than becoming an artifact of a past world.

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  • Survey research has evolved many times throughout the history of the profession from face-to-face interviews, to paper based surveys, to telephone and CATI systems in the 1970s to the web-based surveys that have become common in the past decade. Technology has certainly played a role in this evolution but so too has the ever present demand and competition for improvements in quality, time and cost.
  • So why do we hear that the profession is at a crossroads? That there is a need for sea change? That market research has become archaic? That we are at a crossroads?Seachange?Brink?The end of the world as we know it?
  • The Gap Between Where We Are Today and Where We Need to Be Tomorrow is Greater than ever before, and it continues to grow at an exponential rate. Industry reports, publications and blogs share the changing landscape of the research profession, new methods, new competitors, new demands and the new skills required to realize the future. But this isn’t all…
  • What’s the cause? Well, we can blame BIG DATA as a start, but its bigger than that… VOLUME of data – more VELOCITY of data – faster, mobileVARIETY of data – social, structured and unstructured, from multiple countries and languagesAll of this is a lot bigger than the survey that door to door interviewer had to deal with… It is the essential element for the perfect storm
  • And the expectations of the role are quite different as well. There is general consensus of what is needed in the researcher of the future: media maven, data integrator/synthesizer, business consultant, master storyteller – someone who can distill, simplify, make sense of and communicate about this wave of information and data. And this individual is also expected to be a futurist – able to predict the future rather than measure the past
  • That’s a pretty tough job description… Cambiar has suggested that this guy could do the job, but DaVinci has been out of the job market for a while and polymorphs as a rule are not very common. The model that appears to be the best for creating the researcher of the future is an apprenticeship model – this is what the big consulting firms do and the agencies I’ve spoken with who exhibit a strong strategic consultant model and in fact, it’s a model many of us grew up in where we could pair a more junior associate with a more seasoned one who could “show them the ropes”. Increasingly departments are too thin to enable this model and many of the seasoned associates are ill equipped to teach that which is new to them as well – they may simply not have the right tools themselves. Let’s compound the issue clients and Supplier Side agencies alike are being squeezed for profits,Educational institutions are criticized for moving too slowly,and trade Associations are competing for smaller shares of corporate/individual investment dollars.Maybe the skill training is there… but can anyone afford to attend?
  • So, is this the end? There are some who believe that the profession is done. Replaced by McKinsey, DIY, or perhaps Google ?No, these are simply tools and solutions adapted to the emerging challenges we face
  • There are signs of hope… (with Ian Lewis’ permission) Cambiar/PMRG summer webinar series on power skills – consulting, influence, insight, communication, presentation and they aren’t the only association looking to adapt to the ever changing needs of the profession The MRII is introducing new modules including this one on mobile, Private Partnerships between clients and agencies, even with local universities to provide skills training
  • In addition to training, we also need to attract the right talent. The good news is that enrollments in advanced degree programs such as the UGA MMR program as reported by chair Charlotte Mason are up. In conversations across the industry and well described by Joseph Rydholm in the June edition of Quirks, educators and employers alike speak to the need to attract the individuals who bring the core skills and aptitudes required for the future… adaptability, creativity, curiosity, storytellers
  • I got into this profession because I enjoy solving problems and I’ve stayed in it because the problems get more interesting all of the time. No doubt I’m not alone in this. But solving this problem is going to take the combined resources of the industry, of individual practitioners, clients and supplier, associations and learning institutions. So I don’t see this as the beginning of the end but rather as the beginning of our next challenge… to create the next generation of research professionals and the next chapter in our evolution as a profession. And I’d love to have you join me…
  • What About the People? Training the Next Generation of Research Pros by Lisa Courtade of Merck & Co., Inc. - Presented at the Insight Innovation eXchange North America 2013

    1. 1. What About the People?Training the Next Generation of Research ProsLisa Courtade
    2. 2. Evolution is not a New Concept
    3. 3. Why a Sea Change Now?
    4. 4. The Gap is Increasingly Widening
    5. 5. The Perfect Storm
    6. 6. Who is the Researcher of the Future?
    7. 7. Where is the Talent?
    8. 8. So, is this the end?
    9. 9. Signs of Light
    10. 10. Attracting the Right Talent
    11. 11. The Next Chapter in Our Evolution