Dialling in to the MRIA Conference – the shape of things to come?


Today I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion with Lenny Murphy and Simon Chadwick, ably chaired by P&G’s Greg Rogers, as part of the Canadian MRIA’s annual Conference in Saskatoon. Only one of us, Greg, was actually in the room, or indeed in the country. Simon, Lenny and I all joined via webcams (Simon and Lenny from the USA, and me from the UK).

I look forward to hearing from the audience what they thought, but I really enjoyed it (find out more about the Conference via Annie Pettit’s blog). Virtual events are not unusual, indeed NewMR was perhaps the first to pioneer them in the market research space. And, I have dialled into events in the past, typically when something has gone wrong with the plans (for example clouds of ash grounding planes). But this was the first time where I joined a panel where all the guests joined by webcam, intentionally.

I hope that face-to-face conferences will remain a core part of how the MR industry goes about its sharing, learning, and networking – but I think remote speakers and panels could be a growing part of the picture, especially as the technology gets better, and as we get better at using it.

In terms of content, my 4 key points were:

  • The MR industry has changed much more than most people recognise, the rise of mobile, the move to insights, and changes in the client context are signs and causes of change.
  • Most big data investments are going to fail over the next 18 months. CMOs whose projects work will perhaps be rewarded, but the majority, who projects fail, will surely suffer.
  • Marketing and market research are going to increasingly merge, and this is going to cause tensions.
  • My advice for somebody entering our industry? Find something to be really good at. If you are great ethnography or data, at reporting or semiotics, at methodology or facial coding you will find a good place in our industry.

And, of course, the panel all agreed that Canadians are very nice people, but also the home of some great researchers and some great innovations.