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Buzz Topics: Hype or Gamechangers? (A GRIT Sneak Peek)

What did GRIT participants think about automation, AI, marketplaces, big data, storytelling, VR/AR and attribution analytics being game changers or hype? Here is a sneak peek from the forthcoming GRIT Q3/Q4 2016 Report.


Editor’s Note: The latest GRIT report will be released next week (watch this space!), but we wanted to give our readers another sneak peek before it’s widely available. In case you missed it over the holidays, we previously posted the analysis by Ray Poynter on the adoption of emerging methods. This time we’re including my analysis of what GRIT participants thought about a variety of different buzz topics that blog readers should find very familiar. Enjoy!


Another new area we explored in this wave is the assessment of GRIT respondents on buzz topics. We asked participants to rate 7 topics that seemed to be ubiquitous in the research industry in 2016 and to let us know whether they thought they were game changers, an interesting trend, too early to tell, much ado about nothing or not sure. The topics were automation, AI, marketplaces, big data, storytelling, VR/AR and attribution analytics.

What did our respondents think?

Over a third of both clients and suppliers said automation is a game changer with well over another third saying it was a trend that bore watching. Those folks have obviously been paying attention, since much of the conference stage time and blog real estate in 2016 has been dominated by various and sundry approaches to automate large chunks of the research process. Based on the emergence of literally dozens of new suppliers (some who are experiencing great success) in the automation space, we’d agree that it’s likely a game changer.

Big Data drew an even greater number of adherents almost equally between clients and suppliers at roughly 40% considering it a game changer, followed by the perennially popular storytelling. GRIT respondents are divided equally over the hottest topic of the year – AI – on whether it will in fact change the game or if it’s just an abstract trend to follow for now.

GRIT respondents were definitely taking a wait-and-see attitude toward marketplaces, VR/AR and attribution analytics, with relatively few thinking they were game changers… yet.

So what does this really tell us?

It seems that just a few short years ago, topics like mobile research, social media analytics, communities, etc., were the hype terms everywhere. Today those are mainstream approaches that are continuing to redefine many aspects of the research industry.  If history is any indication, some of these hype(d) terms will continue to linger on the fringes due to unclear ROI or issues around impact, scale, speed and cost.  However, a few may become the next “online”, meaning a shift so revolutionary that the entire industry must pivot in order to stay relevant.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t point out, again, the internal consistency of the responses to these questions and other areas of exploration in this GRIT edition. What aspects of the research process can automation, AI, big data etc. impact? Data collection/gathering, synthesis, analysis and reporting. Regardless of data source.  Who is needed to help make that happen? Data scientists. Where does that leave human researchers? As consultants and storytellers. The connections are clear.

We’ll continue to monitor these and other topics to see which ones are moving from hype to game changer.

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