18
Jul

Consumer Impact on the Future of Smart Devices

By: Greg Swando, Sr. Director of Client Services, & Richard Clarke, VP Global Partnerships, Vision Critical

 

Are you ready for an experiment? Spend some time watching commercials during primetime TV, or while waiting to board your flight at the airport. In a matter of minutes, you will notice an ever-increasing number of impressive and exciting ads touting smart Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Whether it’s a lonely grandmother connecting with her far-away family, thanks to Alexa and the Amazon Echo Spot, or a busy father scouting Greek food locations with his LG OLED TV with Google Assistant, IoT devices are the present and future answer to consolidating seemingly endless daily tasks and helping consumers connect with family.

Rapid developments are present everywhere we turn. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured a Smart Home Marketplace more advanced – and promising – than ever before. In addition to efficient and connection-based clocks and televisions, trusted brands like Kohler, Whirlpool, and Honeywell are showcasing retail innovations promising to make homes safer, healthier, and more comfortable.

Whether it’s a refrigerator reminding you that your apples and oranges are about to rot – or a connected dishwasher that starts rinsing your dirty china with a simple voice command – appliances and entertainment technology are joining the ranks of smart automobiles and security systems to become the assistants families and professionals didn’t know they needed.

In fact, a recent feature story in Forbes magazine spotlighted how the aforementioned “Alexa” of Amazon fame is now the latest virtual butler to cater to guests staying at Marriott-branded hotels.

“Customers tell us they love how easy it is to get information, enjoy entertainment and control connected devices by simply asking Alexa,” explained Amazon VP Daniel Rausch in the Forbes feature. “We want to offer those experiences everywhere customers want them.”

Consider how the world recently became captivated by the news that the Google Virtual Assistant had used an eerily human sounding voice (replete with “ums” and “ahhs”) to book a hair appointment by phone. Clearly, our ability to engage in multiple tasks at one time – while enjoying the experience – is advancing at a rapid pace that both shocks and delights the American and global consumer base.

From predictive data collection to nearly overnight developments in natural language processing, consumer-oriented brands in all industries are eager to capitalize off the many benefits these devices provide. While the technology is undoubtedly thrilling, the key for commercial enterprises is ensuring their customers understand it, then accept it as quickly as possible.

Top Factors Driving Smart IoT Devices & Consumer Adoption

To obtain wide acceptance, it is up to various industries, from automotive to healthcare to retail, to convince the public that these products are not only beneficial, but necessary. One of the easiest arguments to make to consumers is that it helps them save time while delivering a needed boost in a world of instant gratification. Though companies are finding ways to benefit on their end of the IoT paradigm, what will they need to overcome consumer resistance to giving up a modicum of privacy and control in order to foster wider adoption of the technologies?

     1. Consumer Brand Loyalty  

In a society dominated by brand loyalty, consumers want to know the trusted entities behind the technology – and these savvy virtual assistants. For example, Marriott’s Guestroom Innovation Lab collaborates with Samsung and Legrand to optimize their stay experience. As a result of this technology partnership, guests will interact with Bixby and store much of their data in the ARTIK platform and SmartThings cloud. Put simply, they must like and trust these brands to want to use them. This phenomenon extends across industries.

A family’s smart thermostat may be powered by Alexa, for example – but there still are a limited number of tasks the assistant can handle. If they do not enjoy using Alexa, their continued adoption of similar technology may dwindle. By the same regard, some products will be powered by Apple, while others will run on Google technology. Whether it is the voice assistant drivers used in their Toyota – or the underlying technology which powers the commands to control kitchen appliances, for example  – helping consumers define the relationship between the perks of their devices and who drives them is key.

While it is possible enterprises will be overthinking consumer loyalty to Apple, Microsoft, or another entity, it will behoove them to help their buyers understand who is owning and collecting their data – and how it helps them to achieve their goals and complete daily tasks. In turn, the organizations creating the technology will benefit by hashing out how their devices and clouds interconnect.

     2. Privacy Concerns and the Race for Data Collection

As alluded to previously, the battle is on for the ownership and collection of data by technology companies. The more information businesses have about people using smart IoT devices, the more they will be able to enhance consumer experience and dominate their marketplace. Like-minded, competitive organizations will not be sharing consumer data, so building trust matters.  Autonomous vehicle manufacturers, smart television makers, and blue-chip appliance giants can be sure that their customers haven’t yet forgotten about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal – or the almost regular notices they receive about their data being included in a restaurant or bank data breach. It is how they handle consumer perception that will drive future adoption.

There are also concerns about IoT smart device spying – and the potential security risks that come with billions of cars, appliances, and entertainment products being connected by the year 2020. With this discussion, however, comes promise – the global market will grow to up to $475 billion by then – a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of a whopping 28.5 percent.

     3. Consumer Budgets, Product Lifecycles, and Device Efficiency

If you have ever had to argue with Siri to get an answer to a simple question, you know the first-hand limitations of smart tech. At a minimum, all devices need to learn from Google Virtual Assistant’s example — concisely understanding what the consumer is saying and using it to complete myriad tasks. Businesses will have to grapple with people who don’t want to adopt new or difficult technology, so ease of use is essential.

These factors intersect with consumer budget. When weighing benefits of smart IoT devices vs. price, difficulty or affordability of adoption may affect the speed at which the industry evolves. For example, a millennial who recently bought a 2016 KIA Soul has some voice capability in their car, but not the newest technology. While they may think new IoT innovations are neat, they are not going to necessarily invest in a new car until they finish making payments. At the point they buy a brand new vehicle, they will upgrade to the latest technology – and then learn how to use it. Many companies at CES argued about the impact price point will have in the speed of adoption – it will be less painful for consumers to buy a smart dishwasher or clock versus a $30,000 vehicle.

     4. Global Adoption of Smart IoT

While it is relatively simple to predict the future of the smart IoT device industry in the fast-paced, instantly gratified United States, it is additionally important for large organizations to consider how the rest of the world deploys and utilizes the technology. While Apple, Google, and Amazon are among the most trusted and used brands in America, Asian and European consumers prefer South Korea’s Samsung and other local companies while Apple’s popularity declines in large markets like China.

Since there are various technological and societal dynamics across the world, companies interested in capitalizing off smart IoT devices must complete their due diligence via extensive and relevant research to understand the various marketplaces in which they compete.

     5. Growing Consumer Industries by Leveraging the Benefits of IoT

Advancements in IoT devices are undoubtedly useful and exciting to both customers and consumer-based industries. However, it is up to the organizations creating innovative products to transform their knowledge about clients’ emotions, needs, and wants into a trust-building engagement strategy.

Automotive companies, for example, must learn how to balance headlines about self-driving car fatalities with public knowledge about the prevalence and usefulness of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), while large home appliance leaders should leverage data to overcome consumers’ inner battle between cost, budget, and benefit.  No matter how advanced a TV or sedan becomes, consumer attitude will drive adoption. These organizations should focus on ways to engage their customer base to add context and establish the “why” factor in using their products.

It is the everyday mission of Market Strategies International-Morpace to assist companies in understanding these nuances through research about consumer habits to support the value proposition of their devices. The companies who currently make IoT devices are primarily focused on technological advancement and product features but ignore customer perception at their own peril. If enterprises can turn consumer data and sentiment into a strategy that delivers on promises of better efficiency and improved connectivity, the increase in global smart IoT will be coupled with a sentiment that consumers cannot live without it. The drive of habit change is trust – and research to inform development, implementation, and marketing strategies will bridge the gap.

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25
Jun

Changing Tides in IoT New Product Development

By Lucas Lowden
Research Director

In early February 2018, I was lucky enough to embark on what many might consider the trip of a lifetime.

My wife and I, along with three other couples, arranged a bareboat charter to sail around the Abaco Islands in the northeast Bahamas for eight days and seven nights. The chartered 40’ catamaran was our “home” for the subsequent week’s adventure of going somewhere new and different each day.

If you are considering taking a trip like this, I can’t recommend it enough. As Nike says – just do it!

Back home, and finally remembering what I did for my day job, came a realization.

My sailing trip parallels well with the development of innovative solutions here at Morpace, and the lessons we continue to learn in the product development process:

  1. Find someone to captain the ship in unfamiliar territory
  2. Focus first, then iterate development so you don’t end up marooned at sea
  3. Don’t let rough seas deter your development – embrace a flexible and adaptive mindset that comes with new adventures

My focus over the last 18 months has been facilitating a cross-functional team to develop big data and IoT capabilities within Morpace – specifically, our first-ever commercially-released mobile application, DataDialogue™|Pulse. This app takes our knowledge of commercial fleets and their business purpose as well as our experience working with telematics data to provide fleet professionals with an easy-to-use mobile app designed to prioritize performance issues adversely impacting profitability.
With data management and analytics in our marketing research DNA, that sounds pretty straightforward, right? Hardly. It has required deep internal engagements, a lot of perspective, and some key partnerships along the way.

  1. In any new venture, it is paramount to be strategic in your pursuits, working closely with partners, as needed.

Seems like a no-brainer, but it is not always easy. This requires you and your team to be completely honest with yourselves—taking a good, hard look in the mirror. The key is to play to your strengths and find partners to supplement you where needed.

In my boating analogy, a friend in the group is a certified and licensed captain, so we were not required to hire a captain or crew. With the captain in place, the other seven of us were the de facto crew. While this was our second trip as a group, we still leaned on his expertise to navigate us safely through the sea. Who knows where we would have ended up if I was captain of that ship.

As we’ve built DataDialogue|Pulse, there are skills and workflows required that are not necessarily the forte of a traditional marketing research company. After some internal cross-functional efforts and debate, we partnered and consulted with a Michigan-based fleet, data scientist, and application development agency (among others) to supplement our product development process with their deeper subject matter expertise.

We see this in today’s changing automotive landscape as well. OEMs are acquiring or partnering within the mobility and autonomy ecosystems with focused start-ups in hopes of getting a leg up in the race to establish a presence in this emerging space. Generally, the more narrowly-focused start-ups lend a much deeper, specific expertise to the broader-focused OEM.

  1. You want to start with the end in mind. Develop a solution that delivers the minimum acceptable level of value and iterate solutions from there.

Especially in today’s tech-centric approach to development, you must begin with a vision for a minimum viable product – a set of features and content that is essential to the success of the product or service. From there, you can plan for more detailed development around expansion in future iterations.

This also requires you to acknowledge selecting tools that work best for your problem/solution, and not vice versa. For example, we built the proof of concept within Microsoft’s PowerBI offering. This worked quite well for that stage of development, however, we ultimately opted for a custom app build to deliver the long-term scalable solution.

Our trip began and ended at the same marina, so we planned an overall course to achieve this. We certainly couldn’t stray hundreds of miles into the open ocean -after all, we had to end back where we started. This required deciding which islands and cays would best fit into a desirable route. Lastly, we decided on the specifics of choosing which islands and activities we wanted to enjoy.

  1. Despite all the planning in the world, your development process will ebb and flow. In the face of it, you will forge ahead even better if you remain flexible.

Doing so requires an adaptive mindset. Seas and weather change, much as does the business environment. You have to constantly assess your situation for disruption or, if you’re lucky, opportunity. Things do not always go as planned, so you need to be able to think quickly, improvise strategically, and move on.

Fortunately in sailing, if the weather becomes prohibitive, there isn’t much of an option than to stay put and ride it out. In business, that generally isn’t the best strategy. Many times, it may require reversing some decisions or work completed to get back onto the best path of development. Do not be discouraged by setbacks; rather, embrace them and learn from them. Sometimes, small setbacks can be the catalyst for an even better strategy.

In our app, we had assumed a relationship of one fleet manager to one fleet business. We quickly learned that one fleet manager may oversee multiple business lines. This dynamic forced our hand to allow for one user to profile multiple fleets’ data sets. While it was a step back in development, it also gave us a more scalable and robust solution in the long run.

As inspiration to you on your path to new product development, I share a handful of adages that ring true for us on our path to developing DataDialogue|Pulse:

  • Be a trailblazer, take the road less traveled
  • If it was easy, everyone would be doing it
  • Take calculated risks – nothing ventured, nothing gained
  • Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow, but fail fast
  • Enjoy the ride – it’s about the journey as well as the destination

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for dedicating your valuable time. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss our new product development journey, more details about my sailing adventure, or to tell me how much you love/hate my blog at llowden@morpace.com.

And don’t forget to pay attention for more news from Morpace and the upcoming release of the DataDialogue|Pulse v1.0 mobile app!

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12
Apr

Nudging Consumers in the Right Direction

By Steven Welling, Morpace Senior Project Director

Nudging

Recently, I decided to stop putting off updating my iPhone and crossed my fingers that I wasn’t going to risk losing anything that was stored on there (fortunately, everything saved just fine). After my iPhone finished updating, something interesting happened. My iPhone informed me that, in order to finish the update, I needed to add a credit card into my mobile wallet.

I was surprised my phone asked me to do this, as it really wasn’t a requirement for a software update. Plus, I am still more comfortable using an actual card when making a purchase in a store. I did what most people may have done and selected to do it later. The very next day, a reminder popped up on my phone asking me to complete the phone update and add a card into my mobile wallet. Eventually, due to the reminder, I decided to bite the bullet and load my credit card into my phone. My curiosity was piqued since my phone informed me it would help me set it up. Now, even though I haven’t used it in a store yet, I’m tempted to try and make a purchase with my mobile wallet just to see what the experience is like.

Altering Consumers’ Behavior

Thinking about my iPhone update experience, it’s actually a creative way to get consumers to change or try something new. In the behavioral economics world, this is considered a “nudge.”  A nudge is described as a way to alter a consumer’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. This intervention must also be easy and inexpensive (you can learn more from the book NUDGE). Another example of a “nudge” is automatically enrolling people in a program such as a 401k or organ donation, with the option of opting out (instead of the other way around).  Doing this increases participation rates without actually forcing anyone to join. Adding calorie content on menus is another example of a nudge, in which some people may be driven towards lower calorie options they may not have previously considered.

What does this all mean and how does it apply to market research?

When introducing a new product or service, it can be challenging to build awareness and get consumers to try something. With my mobile wallet example, I had heard about mobile wallet for quite a while, but never moved forward with it over concerns about security and usability. Perhaps, I needed just a gentle “nudge” in the right direction.

When conducting research, you shouldn’t simply ask why someone is using a particular product or service, or what got them to start. You should also consider the settings surrounding that event. By probing further into behavioral triggers, you can identify new ways to increase awareness or usage.

Asking the Right Questions

Let’s say we are working for a bank trying to increase mobile app usage. Just asking someone “why they signed-up” or “what would make them sign-up” may not provide the full answer. Common responses may be “an incentive” or “I’m not interested”, which are not very helpful. To understand if a nudge could take place (or has already taken place), you need to understand what happened when current users became aware or started using the app. For example, ask questions that capture the various steps that an individual took:

  • How did you first learn about the app?
  • Where were you when you signed up or started using the app?
  • Were you with anyone?

By understanding and re-creating the circumstances around the event, you may identify similarities around those who have already become aware of, or have started using, the app. You can then leverage those similarities to help “nudge” non-users and potentially increase mobile app usage.

When it comes to nudging, my iPhone update experience was a deliberate attempt to change my behavior and to get me to use mobile wallet. Nudges happen all the time and, in most cases, consumers do not even realize it is happening!

Businesses are always looking for ways to focus your attention somewhere, or get you to do something, all while feeling that you are acting completely on your own choice. In the restaurant example, patrons feel they have free will to order what they want without realizing the calories listed on the menu are meant to nudge them to healthier alternatives.

As a researcher, understanding nudges is important because consumers are motivated all the time by things they do not consciously realize and, as a result, would not be able to tell you about it if asked directly. Who knows…thanks to that reminder I received, maybe I’ll become a mobile wallet user after all!

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14
Mar

Insight Communities – Driving ROI, Not Just Research Value


Richard Clarke, Vice President
Global Partnerships, VisionCritical

For decades, research has delivered powerful consumer sentiment and opinion into organizations – enabling these organizations to put the voice of the consumer into their decisions with the goal of creating more meaningful, successful, and effective products and services.

Methods and modes have changed over the years, with more and more complex solutions being created to get closer to the consumer truth at an ever-increasing speed. Incredible insight has been (and will continue to be) gleaned from consumers, informing multiple parts of clients’ business eco-systems. However, for many clients and users, research is seen as a cost center within an organization – something that needs to be done as part of a process or something that must be purchased as part of the broader vision of the business. The value of research is not generally associated as being an integral and fundamental part of overall business planning and development.

This is why whenever there is a downturn in business performance, or regional/global downturns (ex: 2008 Global Financial Crisis), one of the first areas to be questioned and lose budget is research.

What is the “value” that research is delivering?

There are many answers to this question, both objective and subjective, however, too few times does research itself get directly linked back to business performance. Ultimately, asking about the “value” of research is the wrong question. We should be asking: What is the “Return on Investment” of research? Because that is what research is: an investment into the organization, and not a cost.

There are many ways that Return on Investment in research can be measured, including:

  • More informed/accurate business decisions – what is the cost savings from NOT doing the wrong thing or validating the decision (risk aversion)?
  • Faster to market with the RIGHT product – how much does speeding up the development cycle save?
  • Quicker reaction time to customer feedback and demand – what is the short- and long-term savings of rapidly reacting to the situation or of knowing your customers’ buyer journey and pain points?

For years, I have been an advocate of research and Insight Communities – the idea of engaging with individuals to answer the business issues at hand with engaged members who, ultimately, also drive advocacy for the brand. Insight Communities should not be considered a research “cost” but rather as an organizational asset that both informs business decisions and creates brand advocacy among members.

Forrester Consulting recently completed a Total Economic Impact™ Study on the ROI of Insight Communities to clients. In addition to the cost efficiencies and speed value propositions of Insight Communities, Forrester quantified the financial value of continually engaging with members in a community. The highlights include:

  • $1.7M business value from increased customer insight
  • 590% ROI
  • $546K incremental profit and $4.7M increased sales from community members
  • 39% increase in average order value and 70% lower churn rate from community members
  • 75% reduction in cost compared to traditional market research methodologies
  • 4-6x faster speed to results

This continues to reaffirm the belief that an Insight Community is not only an incredibly valuable tool in providing fast and efficient consumer insight, but also drives business action that results in incremental sales and profit for organizations.

These are just some of the reasons that organizations are implementing communities. The client stories about the impact of an ongoing Insight Community are powerful and continue to prove out the short-term and long-term Return on Investment. Shifting the mindset to consumer engagement is resulting in hundreds of organizations realizing significant returns and outcomes (click here for client stories).

Five years ago, communities were more of a niche solution or emerging technology but, according to the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report (Q3 2017), 82% of respondents stated that communities were either in use (60%) or under consideration (22%). This has led GreenBook to no longer believe that they are an emerging solution but are, in fact, a mainstream solution:

“In future editions of GRIT, it is likely that online communities will also be removed from “emerging methods” now that it is mainstream.” (GRIT Q3/Q4 2017).

Ultimately, these two pieces of evidence indicate that an Insight Community is not only a solution that spreads efficient business insight across organizations but is also an asset that drives revenue and profitability – thereby attaching a real-world ROI to the value of the asset.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about how an Insight Community can become your most powerful asset.

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19
Feb

Implicit Measurement in Consumer Research

By James Leiman, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President

 

Implicit measurement.

How does it contrast with more traditional forms of measurement in marketing research?

Can implicit measurement provide novel insights into consumers’ attitudes and behaviors?

Many market researchers are looking for answers to these questions.

Current interest in implicit measurement is motivated, in part, by the following beliefs about consumers:

  • People are not able to always articulate the reasons they do what they do.
  • There is a difference between what people say and what they believe.

What is the basis for these beliefs?

The answer can be found in recent developments in the field of cognitive neuroscience. First, much of our thinking and decision making occurs at an unconscious level. Second, emotion plays an important role in cognition.

If both of these are true, it is incumbent on us to examine research protocols that access this implicit level of response.

So, what exactly is ‘implicit measurement’?

It is any measurement that does not include consumers’ direct reports obtained through surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews.  Implicit measurement includes the use of tools and techniques that presumably measure consumers’ feelings, thoughts and attitudes occurring below the level of conscious awareness.

Biometric measures from the study of human physiology are one group of such tools.  These include measures of facial expression, eye movements, EEG (brain waves), ECG/EKG (heart rate), EMG (musculature response), and GSR (electro-dermal activity).  Except for measures of facial expression, biometric measures are essentially limited to measuring degrees of activation and orienting responses.

Semantic priming techniques are another group of such tools.  These techniques, largely developed by cognitive and social psychologists, have been used to measure such things as the structure of memory, online language processing, and ethnic and social biases.

In the marketing research field, both biometrics and semantic priming are now being used.  Semantic priming studies generally consist of presenting observers with one stimulus – the ‘prime’ – followed quickly by another stimulus – the ‘target.’  Observers are then required to make some type of speeded response.  The speed of the response is the dependent variable in these studies.  The experimental manipulation is the relationship between the prime and the target.

This technique taps into what has recently come to be known as System 1 thinking.

Used extensively by psychologists to study the internal structure of concepts, one can see why market researchers have used semantic priming to explore a topic near and dear to our hearts – brands.

  • What associations do consumers automatically have to different brands?
  • What associations occur without conscious reflection?
  • How do associations differ across brands?

At Morpace, we recently completed a pilot test of implicit associations consumers have to automotive design elements using semantic priming.  These were, in turn, compared with their explicit associations.  This study confirmed that System 1 responses provide a somewhat different perspective compared to traditional System 2 questioning approaches.

To learn more about this study and obtain additional background information about implicit measurement, click below to obtain a white paper on this topic.

 

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9
Jan

The Secret to Unlocking Your Perfect Creative Process

By Jaeger Senn-Flinn
Story Architect

So I’ll admit, that title was just clickbait promising the moon, but you probably already knew that. We as humans are always searching for that lightening in a bottle. But just like get rich quick schemes and fad diets, there are no magic beans for the creative process. If you think there’s a magical formula to instantly make all of your work start oozing with “creativity”, it’s time to give up on that pipe dream now. The thing about the creative process is that it’s different for everyone ─ just like how some people are visual learners, while others are auditory; what you need to kick start your trek down the creative rabbit hole is likely entirely different than what I do. When it comes down to it, creativity in its base form is being able to look at something differently. So, stop trying to cram a square peg through a round hole and start experimenting to figure out what helps get you in the mindset to see things in a different light. While the creative process may vary for each person, here are a few tips I use to pull myself out of a creative rut.

Iterate Like Nobody’s Business

You may think of “creative people” as these individuals who pull magnificent ideas from the sky without much effort or difficulty, but a) they’ve likely just refined their own creative process, so they already have some notion of which ideas work and which don’t and b) you never see the trash can filled to the brim with ideas they crumpled up and threw away. Part of determining your ideal creative process is coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to have bad ideas and hate 95% of what you come up with. We often come up with a few bad ideas and think, “That’s it, I’m not creative and I’ll never make this work!” It’s so easy to give up at this point, but if you were to continue iterating new ideas, you’d eventually stumble across that golden nugget! It’s often these so called “bad ideas” that aren’t working that inspire the one you’re looking for. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve Frankensteined together ideas I was going to discard that ended up fitting together perfectly; or times I realized that one of the discards was actually a good idea that merely needed a little tweak to make it work. The trick is to not give up when you feel discouraged ─ only by having those bad ideas will you know the good one when you see it.

Just Give Up (For Now)

As important as it is to keep iterating and no matter how bad we want that holy grail of an idea, sometimes you get truly stuck and you’re not budging. At this point, just give up; that’s not to say you raise the white flag of surrender. It is more of a retreat and regroup – sometimes you need a break from whatever you’re working on. Get up, go for a walk, get a drink of water, lie on the ground if you feel so inclined ─ get away from your desk or wherever you’re working for a few moments. Heck, I’ve done it a couple times just writing this! Taking time to clear your head helps you start anew and see things in a different light. Think about it: if you were trying to move a boulder but couldn’t get it to budge, you don’t keep pushing it the same way expecting it to move; you walk around to get a new perspective and find another way ─ like using that piece of wood you didn’t notice wedged under the boulder. It’s the same thing with your mind. Don’t keep pushing that problem you’re stuck on hoping it’ll budge through sheer will. A change of scenery helps you come back to whatever you’re working on with a new perspective.

When in Doubt, Google It

Where do you go now when you want answers to questions? Unless you’ve been living under that proverbial boulder I previously mentioned, you more than likely head straight to Google in search of the answer to your nagging question. We use the dazzling wonder of Google for every question under the sun, so why not use it when you’re stuck solving that creative problem? At a loss for color palette? It’s just a few keystrokes away. Unsure of how to build a layout for the info you’re portraying? I bet someone has the answer for you! Now, I’m not saying you should go out and copy someone else’s work exactly, but most of us are simply looking to design something better, not to be the first to create an entirely new design movement or technique. Use the internet as a plethora of inspiration, so you do not have to think up everything from scratch. Find an example of something you love and make it your own!

Just like everything else you want in life, it takes work to be creative. There is no lightening in a bottle, one size fits all, or specific set of rules to magically be creative. Even those who may have a natural predisposition for how to look at something differently become great because they work at it. Michelangelo, once said “if people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” The idea may seem daunting but it also means that anyone who has the motivation to be creative can do it. So, keep coming up with new ideas, give up for a little while if you need to, and if all else fails, Google it! Happy creating!

To learn more, click here.

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11
Dec

The IoT Frontier: As Seen In Trade Shows

By Lucas Lowden, Research Director

As professionals, we often hear about expanding our horizons. How frequently do we actually do so? In reality, not very often. We get comfortable, and, we are experts at what we do anyway, right?

Commercial Vehicles. Fleets. Construction Equipment. I’ve done plenty of research projects with these professionals.

Big Data. Internet of Things. I’ve heard plenty about these concepts, and do work with a lot of data.

Now put all those ingredients into a pot and distill them into something useful for professionals in those industries?  That’s a different kind of problem. It requires new tools. New skills. A new way of thinking. A new understanding.

Truthfully, everyone’s reality is different and being made uncomfortable is not easy for most.

The last two years of my career have been a whirlwind of discomfort for me. And I’ve loved every minute of it. Learning, growing, helping – each in parallel with teammates and partners alike. In establishing a data-driven mindset we’ve embraced a new way of thinking to get to a new understanding. It’s been incredible!

It’s now late into 2017, and I recently attended the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, NTEA Executive Leadership Summit, and EquipmentWatch’s Traction 2017 show.

Interacting with fleet and equipment professionals at the trade shows forced me to personally broaden my horizons, and embrace the pain points that may make those professionals uncomfortable. I quickly realized that my reality as a Market Research professional differs greatly from that of a Fleet Manager or an Equipment Manager.

Which brings me to the first theme that became apparent to me.

Theme 1: Big Data Is A Big Deal, Getting Bigger With IoT

Let’s start with something that most industries in existence are familiar with – Data. Data. Data.

Data has long been available from an enterprise perspective – financial data, employee data, customer data, and transaction data, among others. Most have utilized each source of data independently for their own practical, everyday needs. Some have integrated the data for a broader application.

Operational data is becoming much more prevalent today – passive data coming in from sensors integrated with all types of equipment and applications used to conduct our everyday business and in our personal lives.

With the IoT I expect the growth curve of data to be an exponential factor the likes of which we may have never seen before. I’ve heard the term 4th Industrial Revolution thrown about. I’m not totally sold on that scope just yet, but it seems more possible than not from my perspective.

Getting the data is often not terribly difficult. Making sense of it is slightly more difficult. Harnessing the power held in these disparate data sources? Broad success stories are far and few between.

So how do we get past this hurdle?

Theme 2: Integration Is Key

Everyone has data. Few have truly harnessed the power of integrating their data to the extent it could be today.

To use an example from a long haul transportation perspective, integrating truck telematics data can give you the amount of fuel burned while a tractor is idling. Layer contextual feedback from a driver survey to understand the idle situation to deem an idle event necessary or unnecessary from a business perspective. Lastly layering that with fuel spend, and you can see how much money lost due to unnecessary idling.

There are lots of high quality solutions in the burgeoning market that provide services around the IOT ecosystem – telematics hardware, internal/external CRM, database architecture, reporting dashboards. As of yet, not many have fully embraced data integration.

That doesn’t even get into what I feel like is the next technology wave of data integration– blockchain. That’s a whole topic in its own right, so will save this for a later post.

For small to midsize organizations this highlights a challenge – they often don’t have the time available or skill set needed to integrate their own data across platforms.

Ultimately, baby steps are critical to integration efforts. Partner. Discuss. Get smarter. Get better. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Integration of data and systems is a natural progression to the final theme.

Theme 3: Any IoT Solution Has To Be Easy To Use

The integration of data at the business level leads to a “what’s next?” question of sorts.

Sometimes, a reporting dashboard can be a solution. For others, it’s an app delivering their data and insights.

Any solution in this space needs to be data-driven and actionable to be most useful and effective for industry executives.

It also needs to be simple and easy to use. Time is money.  Difficult to use and hard to understand solutions cost a company more time and more money.

Currently I’m contributing to a data-driven solution that delivers descriptive dashboards and actionable light-prescriptive reports that, with ongoing interaction, can develop into full predictive and prescriptive systems.

From my perspective, full prescriptive and predictive analytics come with nothing more than time and data pumped into the appropriate systems. Those claiming the ability to do so already are quite far ahead of the curve.

Recap & Conclusion

To work through these steps requires some keen self-awareness and the desire to embrace a data-driven decision making approach around business and competitive intelligence.

In each case, we get there one way – by data.

New technologies are allowing data to be brought in, analyzed, and presented to stakeholders in ways never before imagined.

Doing so represents a whole new batch of challenges at the same time.

Do we have the time? Do we have the people? Do we have the money?

Yes. Yes. Yes. You have to.

If you answer “yes” to all the above then you’re golden. If you don’t answer “yes, I do internally” to all the above that’s ok too. One way to shorten your timeline is to say “yes, I do by partnerships”.

The risk of not saying “yes” and taking action in this new frontier is potentially greater than taking action and failing, but still learning along the way.

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14
Nov

How to Market Products Using China’s City Tiers

By Jenny Zhang, Research Analyst

Companies looking to market in China will hear about the country’s city tiers and wonder what it’s all about. It’s no question that the world’s most populated country would have the highest consumer demand. Their consumer expendable income is also on the rise, and with a flashy, name-brand-recognizing culture, marketing is more important than ever. The question is, can we market products to these so-called “tier cities” and how can we do so? I’ll start with a little explanation and let’s work on answering that question.

I’d like to reference South China Morning Post’s (SCMP) interactive definition of tiers. Here, they divide 613 cities into 4 tiers, but another popular approach is 6 tiers. As you can see, there is no standard way of defining tiers from the government, but the highest tiers, 1 and 2, are generally agreed upon by economists, politicians and the public.

Name a city in China: Beijing? Shanghai? These are Tier 1. The combination of GDP, Politics and Population classifies cities into the four tiers, however, some cities rank differently in the three areas so the average is taken to identify the tier, says SCMP. You can start to see how companies would want to understand tiers so they can target certain people. Consumers in Tier 1 cities tend to be more affluent and highly educated. Tier 4 cities are in the rural parts of Western China. Population is scarce and so are resources. They include provinces such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Are you starting to get ideas?

Advertising needs to appeal to the demographics. Same with promotions or deals. We will start asking what kind of media to advertise on based on what the consumers have access to. So the answer to the question we had in the beginning is “yes”, we can market products to different tiers and the way to do so depends on your product. The next time a client asks you about marketing in China, suggest looking at tiers and see where your research takes you.

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8
Nov

Tactics For Humanizing Data From Connected Devices and IoT To Drive Business Outcomes

By Lucas Lowden, Research Director

Connected devices. Automation. Machine learning. Artificial intelligence.

Just a few short years ago, we would’ve thought we were watching a science fiction movie.

There is much discussion around these technologies – and for good reason! Each are critical components of scalable Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Today, it is the reality of our day jobs. With the support of various functions across the organization, we are actively establishing Morpace’s thought leadership and positioning for what we believe will be the future of the market research industry.

In support of these technologies, the importance of the human element should not be discounted.

There are numerous human interactions that provide crucial inputs to enable successful automation of machine processes. Doing so allows for a broader understanding and application of big data to produce actionable insights for business outcomes.

With several years growing in this space, we have developed a passion about leveraging big data and IoT systems. We have also realized the importance of Big Context – the intersection of man and machine that layers contextual understanding and lends business meaning to these massive data systems.

Are you leveraging Big Context in your business? Are you finding the humanity within your organization’s data?

Join the Strategists on Morpace’s Growth & Innovation Team – Jason Mantel (Sr. VP), Dania Rich-Spencer (VP), and myself, Lucas Lowden (Research Director) – for our webinar from Qualtrics’ Experience Week, Big Context: Humanizing Big Data From Connected Devices” and learn about tactics for driving positive business outcomes. To sign up and view our webinar, click here.

In the webinar, we explore the tenants of Big Context and how we have proven the importance of the human element and answering the question “Why?” for an automotive manufacturer and a transportation & logistics fleet.

We encourage you to reach out to us directly for any questions or further discussion around humanizing your organizations’ data at information@morpace.com.

 

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10
Apr

The Power of One Voice

By: Donna Taglione, Vice President

Prior to the Corporate Researchers Conference in late September 2016, David Almy, CEO of the Market Research Association (now Insights Association), wrote a short email promoting the event. In his message he said, “You only need one great idea to truly succeed, or one great innovation to truly advance.” Even though his note was endorsing seminar content, the notion of “one” got me thinking. In the age of Big Data, how important is one voice?

In my world of one-on-one interviews and focus groups, hearing the voice of one is critical. No matter the location or space, offline or online, one common thread I’ve seen in nearly every interview I’ve conducted is the presence of doubt in the consumer’s mind. I try to reaffirm to them at the start of every conversation that their perception, their voice, is important. I learn something new or different from each and every person I talk to and some of the most insightful comments are prefaced with qualifiers of uncertainty – “I don’t know if you want to know this or not …” or “I don’t know, maybe I did something wrong, but I noticed…” Respondents are always afraid they’re not telling us the “right” thing.

Big, little, obvious and not so obvious – it’s all important and nothing is “wrong”. The collection of individual voices helps to uncover patterns on a larger scale. Patterns that point us in a direction; patterns that help us weave a story. The beauty of qualitative research is that sometimes these patterns and collective voices force a u-turn because some “wrong,” off-hand comment by a few individuals turns into something of sheer brilliance – the “why didn’t we think of that” revelation.

These are the revelations we seek. In the aftermath of these moments, comes insight and direction. But there are times when client observers believe that the power of one voice can be negated, particularly if that voice does not solidify objectives but alters the direction of project. The remedy is to have open and honest discussions between the moderator and observers after the interviews are complete.

The easel is my best friend in a back room debrief, helping me chart confirmations of previous learning, note questions that still linger and record the gems of any project – the a-ha’s – those things that opened eyes to a new or different way of thinking and/or doing. The best intel often comes from an innocent remark; a remark that inspires a packaging engineer to rethink the design of a container or an advertising person to redirect the creative approach with greater clarity and understanding.

John F. Kennedy once said: “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” In qualitative research, I know first-hand the importance of one person’s experience and opinion. It is the everyday experiences of individuals that aid product developers, designers and advertisers to make and market better products. We should all keep trying to hear the customer’s voice. It’s the one voice that can, and does, make a difference.

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