Earlier this week, I was in “tech geek” heaven because I had the opportunity to participate in IIR’s Technology Driven Market Research Event (TDMR) in Chicago. The purpose of the conference was to showcase how technology has generated new ways for market insights professionals to connect with and understand consumers. Over the course of the two days, the bulk of the presentations focused on two methodologies: social media market research and mobile research, with a smattering of additional presentations on neuroscience and gamification.

TDMR was a great conference. It brought together a core group of 200 market insights professionals who realize that although traditional research methods have their place, as an industry, we need to start understanding and experimenting with new methodologies. In addition, it highlighted how the industry needs to stop dumping data on our clients and instead deliver key insights, make recommendations, and present actionable next steps. These points were especially evident in Merrill Dubrow's high-energy presentation, which addressed how we are seeing an increased number of outsiders questioning how we do things and why we are so slow to innovate. As he stated — with even Glenn Frey’s song blasting in the background — the “heat is on” for the market research industry to change.

The presentations and panel sessions brought together industry leaders, big brands, and vendors to highlight case studies on how these innovative and emerging techniques are being used. For example, General Motors partnered with Gongos Research to combine MROC and mobile data collection methods to connect with their research community members anytime and anywhere, by using a mobile app to capture how consumers were interacting with their cars. And Procter & Gamble wanted to shift from researcher-driven, out-of-context interactions with consumers and partnered with Qualvu to utilize smartphone video-based ethnographies to capture consumer- and event-driven engagements, whereby consumers bring the researcher in at the moment they are interacting with products.

While I enjoyed these presentations and chatting with colleagues that “get it,” there were critical topics that were not addressed that I would have liked to hear about. Within the context of the study, was the innovative method incorporated with traditional methods, and if so, how? Will this new method completely replace the traditional way the question was studied? What business decisions were affected as a result of utilizing the method? What was the process for getting stakeholder buy-in for the innovative method? The presenters made it sound easy to execute, but was it? What roadblocks were encountered through the study?

Unfortunately, the attendees at this conference are a small group of early-adopting market insights professionals. Therefore, even without these details, we are already onboard for this evolution. But the market insights industry as a whole isn’t yet. We have the potential to shift this industry. However, to succeed in doing so, we need to push the doors wide open and publish detailed case studies that walk our colleagues through the process — both good and bad — so they have a primer on why they should experiment with innovative techniques.

I’m willing to take on this challenge. Which of my fellow “tech geeks” will join me?

If you haven’t tried an emerging methodology, please tell us what information you need to see that will help you in your assessment.