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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.