Lessons on how to surf the AI wave

The recent MIE'24 conference had important lessons for the insights industry, illustrating that those who embrace and leverage AI responsibly will gain a competitive edge in shaping the future of the insights industry.

3 min read
Lessons on how to surf the AI wave

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend day two of the recently concluded MIE’24 organised by the Data and Insights Network in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Day 2 started with David Smith's (from DVL Smith) keynote session, during which he shared with the audience who he (and his collaborator Adam Riley) thinks will emerge as the winners and losers in the game of AI. David’s talk showcased how far the market research industry has transformed over the years, with the latest turning point being AI. My main takeaway was that those who can use AI and are ready to embrace it will have a better chance of emerging as winners of this AI game.

Stijn Poffé, from Human8, gave the next session I attended, which was all about how AI is transforming the insights industry. He addressed one of the growing concerns about using generative AI (Read ChatGPT), i.e., sharing sensitive data to public servers. He advised taking a snapshot of all the data and de-linking it from the public system to avoid data feeding back to the public servers. Among the use cases that Stijn shared regarding AI in the insights industry, I found the use of AI as a co-moderator fascinating. The possibility of understanding and summarising the responses from participants speaking different languages in a matter of minutes would make the research genuinely global and remote. In other words, a Babel fish without having to put any fish inside your ear would be a game changer.

In the spirit of communication, I attended the next session about using AI to talk to respondents to break the monotony of a typical online survey. Merik te Grotenhuis from Tellet and Iris Trommelen from VodafoneZiggo presented insights from a recent project where they used Tellet, an AI-moderated research interview service, to understand the participants’ view of VodafoneZiggo’s entertainment recommendation service. This session was another lesson on improving the participants' online survey experience.

With the proliferation of AI-based services in the market, it is only standard for buyers of such services to be overwhelmed with options. It would not come as a surprise that they would have many qualms about such services from suppliers. ESOMAR recently released a checklist titled 20 questions to help buyers of AI-based services. Xabier Palacio and Jules van Vlokhoven from ESOMAR shared the five broad sections covered by this checklist in their masterclass. This was an informative and interesting session as I was trying to connect whether some of the AI-based companies I know are able to address these questions. For instance, Tellet, during their presentation, already clarified how their platform is based on Microsoft Azure, the use of WhatsApp for their service, and the various measures taken by the company towards compliance. This addresses the question of whether the AI service is trustworthy, ethical, and transparent. This provides an opportunity for AI-based services to explore this checklist and publish answers to these essential questions to provide and promote transparency about their services to their potential buyers.

Overall, attending MIE’24 was an enriching experience for me as I had the opportunity to interact with interesting people and companies. This proved to be a great way to learn more about the recent developments and challenges in the industry and how companies are addressing them. Having attended all these sessions, I am quietly hopeful that those who embrace and leverage AI responsibly will gain a competitive edge in surfing the AI wave and shaping the future of the insights industry.

Ajitha Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan
Junior Data Analyst at ESOMAR