Supporting local activities to connect and empower insights professionals can take many shapes. In the case of CUBE, the Belgian association for the insights industry, this was done through a one-day event to supercharge the community in a very special location: the Duvel brewery. Networking and new learnings flowed in a day with conducting ideas front and centre, such as the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the extraction of insights.
I was honoured to open the event with a session on the links that exist between the different partners within the industry. The complexity witnessed in the past years – or, indeed, decades – has created new dynamics that translate into expectations from the client-side insights departments and those who procure research. It has also favoured alternative business models brought about by DaaS, SaaS, research platforms, and other firms that largely facilitate the internalisation of insights. An extra notch of complexity is added by consultancy and reporting firms increasingly encroaching into the research function and growing their analytics and research functions. Though complex, this creates a series of opportunities worth exploring.
The day continued with a presentation by Stuart McGown from Philips, who delved into the impact AI had had within the firm and how it aided development and secured success for some of its most recent products. Customers are not monolithic entities that should be put into simplified boxes. Instead, they are multidimensional individuals who require a more comprehensive understanding. This is what AI is now allowing at scale, and speed. Projects that used to take months can now be successfully executed in a week. AI can be the assistant to take on other tasks with decent – not yet great – results. While this is promising, AI will facilitate companies and players in countries with fewer controls to compete with established insights firms by promising exceedingly cheap access to “decently right” insights extracted with low overheads. You can read that again so it sinks in. The future, however, may ask for a level of multidisciplinary skills better suited to agencies able to deploy them at large, than to end-client firms. A silver lining within the uncertainty!
Nicole Huyghe from Boobook, Jeroen Sabbe and Eva Agten from Telenet presented a detailed case study to identify audiences and create a dedicated segmentation that all departments can use to understand and fine-tune the delivery of the product. Stijn Poffé from Human8 moved on to explain very specific cases where AI may be applied. Of course, not all AI is created equal, and as technology advances, what we consider AI shifts too. It is not just rule-based AI that is turbocharging the insights world, but generative and conversational AI. What to do with it? Well, as exciting as knowing its potential is realising its limitations. But AI is shaping up to be a fantastic assistant for desk research or even moderate discussions! And, of course, aid in translation as well as providing great help on the reporting portion of a project. Presentations wrapped up with One Inch Whale’s Wim Hamaekers and Pascal Lefever explaining the impact of colour on consumers’ psyche and how they broke the mould with a redesign of Alpro soja’s line of products and wrapped up with a panel discussion exploring a range of questions on the impact of AI in the future of the profession.
As it could not be any other way in a brewery of such stature, the day ended with an extensive tour of the facilities before indulging in one or two of the house specialities while making new professional contacts. I was glad to see the success of a half-day event that could pack such a punch and be so interesting as well as accessible. The format may be interesting for other countries' representatives, as well as for ESOMAR itself! But, as always, content and connections are everything.