The changes wrought by COVID-19 over the past two years have laid the groundwork to transform not just the research sector, but also how marketers and businesses access the data they need for decision making.
When the CEO of programmatic survey platform Lucid coined the phrase ResTech last year, pointing to increased venture capital investment in research technology firms, he may not have foreseen just how fast the burgeoning sector would grow.
In the past, research technology has generally been understood to refer to the application of programmatic connections (“APIs”) between systems. These connections have helped to match supply with demand and automate the ordering and fulfilment process for a market research project.
Today, the term ResTech has expanded, to include not just programmatic connections but all technologies now being applied to innovate the market research industry. It ranges from the rise of self-service SaaS platforms, conversational AI, and automated visualisation tools to advanced text analytics, and a host of other niche solutions. What they all have in common is that they partially or fully automate what was previously a manual, expensive and time-consuming process.
For marketers grappling with rapid shifts in consumer behaviour, the emergence of a vibrant ResTech sector could not be better timed. Repeated lockdowns, not just in Australia but all over the world, have created a stop/start dynamic that is impacting buying patterns, consumer habits, and media consumption. It is imperative for brands and advertisers to access consumer data and feedback quickly so that rapid decisions can be made.
This challenge is fuelling a wave of new and improved ResTech solutions across various aspects of data and insights. Recently introduced or fast emerging options include:
- Evolved Group’s conversational AI solution brings advanced chat and text Analytics technology to replace traditional surveys with realistic, enjoyable, and engaging conversations – through EVE, the Evolved Verbatim Engine.
- SightX offers an end-to-end research platform that enables marketers to dive deeper into consumer insights: a single, unified software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for consumer engagement, understanding, advanced analysis, and reporting.
- Zappi’s ad and innovation testing platform helps advertisers access better research methodologies to test, learn and ultimately make better decisions about what to take to market.
- Pureprofile’s Audience Intelligence SaaS platform leverages a deep set of real transaction data to help brands understand consumer purchasing habits.
On one hand, marketers are facing ever louder demands for data-driven insights from their businesses. On the other, there is a rapidly increasing number of market research and ResTech options. What do marketers need to consider when looking to ResTech to help their business?
The most important step is to embrace the opportunity and decide what they really need.
Do they want 24/7 support, and automated project management tools to allow consultants in different countries to collaborate in real time and provide “follow the sun” support?
Or would they prefer a self-service SaaS platform that offers the ability to scope and launch projects without assistance, including the full lifecycle from scripting a survey, defining an audience, fieldwork, to the final report?
Of course, most marketers’ demands would have been possible using traditional research methods – provided there was access to an unlimited budget and enough time to get it right. This is where ResTech is really changing the game: by reducing the costs and increasing access to complex market research solutions that deliver highly relevant and extremely accurate data and insights.
As for where ResTech will take us? Practically speaking, the initial stage is already here, with highly efficient project management services being delivered in concert with increasingly sophisticated self-service tools.
But ResTech is also bringing the true holy grail of market research closer to reality: a single dashboard that provides real-time data and deep insights tailored to each organisation’s specific needs.
Ultimately, if the true opportunities of ResTech are to be realised, it will require a joint effort between researchers, technologists, brands, and marketers to embrace the potential and push the boundaries of what is possible.
By John Griffin, Pureprofile’s chief technology officer
This article was first published by B&T