MRA enlisted several researchers attending the Corporate Researchers Conference in Dallas in September to report back summaries & insights from the conference sessions. This report, from Matt Case (FedEx), is on “Corporate Researcher Skills of the Future: The Once and Future Roles of Corporate Researchers” by Robert Moran, Partner at Brunswick Insight.

Robert’s session was jam-packed full of information related to what the corporate researcher of today and tomorrow needs for their toolkit.  He discussed 4 different functions that Market Research departments play today and asked the question – where do you feel you are?

1. Traditional market research function

  • Project driven
  • Service provider
  • Tactical work
  • Each study treated as a stand-alone project

2. Business contribution team

  • Business driven
  • Thought partner
  • Prioritization of strategic work
  • Studies build upon each other

3. Strategic insight organization

  • Mix of people some with technical skills, some with conceptual, analytical and strategic capabilities
  • Drive results for the business unites
  • Trusted advisors with a seat at the table
  • Go beyond market research studies

4. Strategic foresight organization

  • Integrated thinking with focus on leadership and communication
  • Corporate leaders
  • Primarily strategic work
  • Full suite of shopper insight tools

Five Mega Trends are Shaping our Future
1) Data Abundance

  • call it “Big Data”, Social Media, SoLoMo (social, local, mobile), “lifestreaming,” it is here

2) Asking – Observing Shift

  • “listening posts” and feedback loops

3) Democratization

  • co-creation, predictive markets

4) Convergence

  • Industry, tool and data

5) Strategic Imperative

  • Delivering value in a data abundant world

Five Future Roles for Marketing Research
1) Innovation Coach – Managing “open innovation”

  • Spigit, Communispace, PopTent

2) Knowledge Manager – Harnessing “big data” with bigger i! nsight management

  • Most important real estate in the company “The Insights Portal”
  • Information wants to be FREE

3) Tribal Expert – Embedding projects in group ritual

  • Scrapbooking, Coke, Starbucks

4) Idea Virologist – Maximizing spread of positive, peer-to-peer recommendations

  • Richard Dawkins “The Selfish Gene”, Klout

5) Futurist – Anticipate future buyers and markets

  • Global Business Network
  • APF (Association of Professional Futurists)
  • Institute for the Future

I recommend following Robert on Twitter – @robertpmoran

Robert actually sent out a preview to his presentation the night before with more of his insights.

Robert’s 3 things he wanted the audience to take from his presentation

  1. We have a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the future of our roles as marketing researchers, but we have to embrace the way the future is changing and embrace new roles.
  2. We have to look at things that we might have thought of as adjacencies to marketing research, such as open innovation, as places we can play.
  3. When the rate of change is speeding up, we have to be thinking about how we can anticipate changes in the! future, anticipate new markets and where consumers are headed and bend the research we have today to help us anticipate those futures tomorrow.

MRA also conducted a pre-CRC interview with Robert on August 17, all about being a corporate a researcher. [insert link to interview]