Is it really almost March? Hard to believe, sitting from my desk in Boston, where we are still thawing out from a heavy winter. But, my Outlook calendar shows that Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2011 is only six weeks away, and I am setting my sights on getting a sneak peek of spring in San Francisco this April!

This year’s event theme focuses on innovating into the next digital decade, which will be marked by new, proprietary digital platforms (such as iPad apps, connected TVs, and walled gardens like Facebook) that will drive even more channels for customer engagement. We call this phenomenon the Splinternet, and it means that behavior and expectations around how people access relevant content and interact with companies is changing yet again, and departments that are tasked with understanding and engaging consumers across channels must change too. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when we came to terms with this thing called the online channel?

For market insights (MI) professionals, this shift into a more fragmented and digital world only increases the urgency to adapt organizationally and methodologically in order to bring consumer knowledge into the center of how companies make both tactical and strategic decisions. To this end, we’ve lined up a thought-provoking track of sessions specifically for MI professionals, outlining the future of this role, the ways in which companies are using new methods to reach key consumer groups, and how to provide insights that will support your marketing organization throughout a product or marketing lifecycle.

For my part, I’ll be kicking off our sessions with a look at the future of the MI department. The future is bright, but it hinges on building capabilities in three areas: consolidation of different data sources, deeper engagement across lines of business, and new skills that go beyond traditional market research training. It’s an exciting time to be in the world of market research, and the lines around what fits in an MI professional’s purview are blurring as different parts of the organization are developing their own data-driven views of the consumer through non-traditional data.

Over the next few weeks, each of us on the team will be posting about the content we have planned for the Marketing Forum (full forum agenda can be found here). I hope you’ll check-in to learn more, and we look forward to seeing you in San Francisco this April!