By Edward Appleton
Going to Amsterdam in February isn’t the best time to visit the city, but it’s IIeX Europe time – so: grey skies, wind, rain… here we come!
This was the fourth time I attended – and I was impressed. There were apparently well over 500 attendees a huge rise over 2016 which was I believe under 400, and 30% client side researchers. Wow.
It was energizing as ever, a great place to network, and with multiple parallel tracks and competitions going on, it requires careful planning.
What made this IIeX different? Two things stood out:
- The voice of qual was well represented with presentations from Acacia Avenue, IPSOS Mori, Northstar and yes, our good selves at Happy Thinking People. The AQR was present, very ably represented by chair person Simon Patterson. People from QRCA were there too. It was great to juxtapose qual. and “tech” – suggesting a complementary, rather than a competitive relationship. Reminded me of the Big Data/ Qual juxtaposition at the Esomar Conferences in Berlin in 2016.
- New Speakers Track. Led by Annie Pettit, people who had never been on stage before presented their own Market Research Innovations. The talks I saw were impressive and made me wonder if my own presentation skills needed an urgent refresh! I applaud this – it’s something we should do more of: giving a platform to unheard voices.
Thematically, what stood out? I by no means have an overview – it’s impossible to “do” all of IIeX, there’s simply too much, but here’s what stuck:
- “Crowd wisdom” – whether you’re looking for a freelance creative team to move your idea along, or want to get a first understanding directly of real-life behaviours in unknown markets, there were a number of companies (eg Streetbees & Mole in a Minute ) linking up different sorts of crowds directly with budget owners. Automated, in real-time, fast, and I’m imagining relatively cost-efficient.
- Automation – Zappistore continues to be a major presence at IIeX, propagating the benefits of full automation at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. A company to continue to watch, it seems.
- Stakeholder Engagement – a demo on the smart video software from TouchCast stunned me. Paul Field’s live demo of how a presentation could be whizzed up fast and made to look as if a professional TV studio had created it – amazing.
- Non-conscious/ implicit methods – Sentient Decision Science were a familiar and welcome presence, other newer faces also suggested different ways (strength of attitudinal response – courtesy of Neuro HM) of to accessing more authentic, dare I say System 1 responses, with higher predictive validity.
- Artificial Intelligence was a strong theme – allowing companies to mine and access knowledge in their reports much more easily, for example, or eliminating low-value, time-consuming tasks e.g. during recruitment by automatically identifying potentially relevant audiences.
I was interested to see the likes of big-hitting conjoint experts Sawtooth there, Mr. Aaron Hill – IIeX is getting noticed far and wide, it seems.
Overall, IIeX shows the humble visitor that “Market Research” (whatever you call it) is vibrant, but it’s already very different to what it was a very few years ago.
Major client side companies are already showcasing their new MR approaches – CPG giant Unilever being the stand-out company doing that at IIeX but Heineken and fragrance and flavor company IFF also hosted a showcase track.
The human aspect is still central – tech can help us concentrate on that, automating and removing repetitive, low-interest, non-value-added tasks.
If you do visit in future (which I would recommend), I suggest you come with a mind-set that looks to join-the-dots rather than be overwhelmed by “breakthrough” or “step-change” developments.
For more on my thoughts, as well as many of my colleagues, here is a video blog we did last week:
Tech can enable, be disruptive, but it’s up to us to link up, be imaginative, find the sweet application spot in whatever part of the MR area we play in.
Curious, as ever, as to others’ views.