In the early ‘80s, S. Allen Heininger, vice president at Monsanto at the time, said, “Research plants the trees so that others can some day sit in the shade.” While this is a lovely (if not limiting) sentiment, I’m not convinced it rings true in today’s marketplace, chalk full of disruption by way of rapid social, technological and economic change. In fact, the marketing research “noise” is often so loud that it’s hard to clearly hear or communicate insights, determine which tool(s) to use or predict future trends and analytics...let alone be confident in applying outcomes in a strategic, sometimes even tactical manner that allows for more informed and better decision-making.

For the purpose of simplicity, MRA has defined a corporate research member as, “Individuals who are employed at an organization whose clients are internal. They are not involved in the sale of their research, analysis or services, and their work is not for sale or compensated use outside of their organization.” What this definition doesn’t effectively communicate is the special set of challenges corporate researchers face–which we continuously learn more about through our own highly prioritized internal research with this industry segment.

This Corporate Research issue, we took a slightly different approach than in past years and sought contributions not from, but for, buyers of research. Because, let’s face it: the corporate insights function is no longer the only gateway to critical business data. With “outsiders” entering the MR space at a never-before-seen rate (think insights-driven competition from social media/Big Data, the Internet of Things, software, client/consumer management systems and consulting companies), the next-generation researcher, tools and technologies are informative (and fun!) areas for focus. 

At first glance, it might appear there are duplicative topics – but upon further review, you’ll see clear distinctions. There are some central themes (mostly involving integration of results using multiple sources, new technological platforms and the wearable device market), but each contribution takes us down a different storytelling path about the future. We hope you agree that this is an especially exciting issue meant to encourage (dare we say, demand) change. 

I hope to see, welcome and meet you June 3-5 at the Insights & Strategies Conference (ISC) in San Diego, where inspiration for new ways of thinking will abound. It’s a guarantee that I will not be sitting in the shade but basking in the air of excitement that always accompanies this annual event, which is dedicated solely to furthering the growth of the marketing research industry. 

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