Article

Susan Vidler
Susan Vidler 5 July 2019

Q&A with Susan Vidler, UK Managing Director, Harris Interactive

We discuss how technology has had an impact on research and product development, and how to balance agility and quality in today’s digital world.

How has digital disruption changed market research?

The way in which research is conducted has changed dramatically over the last few years. Brands need insight to inform their decision making and the pace of this has accelerated dramatically in line with the on-demand economy. If companies have new demands in relation to speed, insight companies need to provide answers at the rate the market demands. What was considered fast a few years ago is not regarded as fast today.  In some cases, companies need responses in a few hours to guide decisions. There are still projects that require more time to be completed in line with the business questions they are addressing, however insight professionals need to be able to provide research services at the speed their clients need them. 

Technology has enabled quick access to consumers via their digital devices to gain their views and opinions. On-going advancements have enabled researchers to meet the changing market needs for speed as well as access. The use of technology empowers research consultants to focus on the activities where they can add value and automate elements of services based on best practice techniques. Bringing together research and consultancy expertise alongside technology and automation enables the creation of compelling digital solutions supporting brands to make impactful decisions faster.

We hear the term ‘agile’ used a lot to describe best practices in product development. How do brands ensure this agility, and what are the challenges they face?

Agility is definitely a word used a great deal at the moment. It describes a different way of working in the research space. While it is not limited to new product development, in that particular area it refers to a much quicker, more flexible, iterative way of working that enables companies to test new or optimise existing products and services quickly and effectively. 

Agility refers to speed but also to using tools and techniques which factor rigour and quality into the process at the same time. The advancements in technology provide the improvements required to do research faster, but it is also important to run projects at the level of quality required to support the decisions that are being taken as a result of the research.   

With product development processes speeding up, how can research be used to best effect?

Given the need for speed, we work with brands to ensure the right programmes are in place and ready to go when they need them throughout the innovation cycle. This can mean developing multiple semi-automated digital solutions that meet their needs from ideation to post launch. These solutions are designed to maximise speed, quality and return on investment for clients in addition to providing the flexibility they need to work in an iterative way. Solutions of this type are key for clients alongside quick access to consumers and research consultants who understand the categories they operate in.

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