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28 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
Insight Platforms | Ep. 140
Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast! Sima is excited to have Mike Stevens, the Founder of Insight Platforms, as her guest for today’s show. Mike is joining Sima today to talk about his company, Insight Platforms, and discuss the changes happening in the data and insights space. About Insight Platforms Insight Platforms was originated as a directory of platforms for insights, software, and data tools, across the spectrum of market research, UX research, CX research, and analytics. The Genesis of Insight Platforms Mike has always worked in the intersection between insight, marketing strategy, and technology. The genesis of Insight Platforms was Mike’s consulting business, where he did lots of advisory work around digital transformation. A surprising number of new startups were happening in that space, so he built a directory. Mike’s background In the late 1990s, Mike started his career working in a niche boutique marketing strategy consulting business, helping people create strategies for getting into new markets. He worked for several other consultancies after that. He then spent a few years working with a Canadian software business formerly known as Vision Critical and later rebranded to Alida. After leaving that company a few years ago, he set up on his own as an independent consultant. Pressure Enterprise insight market research teams have been under various kinds of pressures. They have been pressured to work faster, be more agile, and have more influence, and there has also been a gradual erosion of who owns the knowledge about the customers. A data science component Much of Mike’s initial client base were teams looking to upskill, harness technology, change the skills mix in their teams, and bring a data science component into their primary research skill base. They also wanted to adapt their operating models to be continuous providers of data and insights. Three sides to the market There are three sides to the market: They are enterprise buyers, service providers and agencies, and technology providers with whom agencies and enterprise clients will have relationships. The changing landscape Technology companies need help with their go-to-market strategies and expansion. Agencies also need help with figuring out what their likely proposition will be within the changing landscape. That creates fertile ground for strategy consulting, which is both interesting and rewarding. Embracing change Mike enjoys working with teams who are keen to embrace change and want genuine help to get there. The new insight model Although there is a lot of fear and discomfort in any rapidly-changing market, things are starting to shape up right now in the area of new insight models. There are a lot of opportunities available for those who want them. Abundance We are generating an abundance of data currently across many mechanisms, consumer groups, and locations. As a result, some of the challenges in this exponential age will be about processing abundance rather than scarcity. New data sources There are currently many new and different types of data sources. The various starting points will result in different takes on the data and insights business. An interesting trend A trend is that more people are getting more hands-on with research and insights data. A lot of decision-making is currently due to customer-driven data. A layered approach The craft of understanding methodology and putting data into the correct perspective has now become one layer within a multi-layered approach to analyzing data. An evolutionary process The data industry is undergoing an evolutionary process. The different layers should become more clarified over the next ten to fifteen years. Different categories Mike distilled the complexity that he saw initially into about thirty different categories of software and data tools. It became apparent to him, however, that that was insufficient for the breadth and complexity of the data, and people also needed a more granular system. So Insight Platforms now has 350 different categories. Insight Platforms Insight Platforms is currently doing a lot of work in language processing. They are also busy with customer experience analytics tools, which cover digital behavior and an analysis of what people are saying in their feedback to call centers and reviews. They are building tools to monitor the main themes, topics, and sentiments over time. UX research There has recently been an explosion of research management and research repository tools for UX research. Automated testing solutions The adoption of automated testing solutions is still relatively in its infancy. Some big companies, like Pepsi, have automated much of their testing. But many companies are still edging their way towards more efficient and automated ways of doing things and have a long way to go. Three pillars There are three pillars to how Mike’s business operates. They are the directory business, events, and learning. The learning pillar Their ambition with the learning pillar is to build it out to have a good selection of highly specialized courses available for the digital insights business, on LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, or Coursera. Trackers Mike has always been amazed at how much money and how much budget share gets spent on trackers. He has been horrified at the lack of meaningful movement from quarter to quarter in some ways that trackers got set up. However, he does see a future in continuous data and insight into brand performance. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Insight Platforms
21 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
The Future of Work Part Two | Ep. 139
Welcome to Part Two of an exciting two-part series on the future of work. Today, Sima continues her conversation with Kelly Monahan, the Thought Leadership Research Principal Director at Accenture Research. In this episode, Kelly and Sima discuss the different models that companies are considering, to bring people back into the office, create hybrid models, or go completely remote. Going back to the traditional model Some employers think they might encourage their employees to go back to the traditional model by compensating them with higher pay. Others are considering paying their employees less if they do not return to the office. A rational economic move Incentivizing people to work in less than preferred conditions was a rational economic move that was popular in the late 1970s. Henry Ford was a master of that tactic. In the short term In the short term, there will be a segment prepared to work in terms of an incentive to maintain an old paradigm. In the long run In the long run, however, it will not work. Incentivizing people to work in less than preferred conditions is a dangerous strategy because once the financial incentive reaches a certain amount, people’s motivation for work drops dramatically. They will start seeking out situations where they feel dignified and can have meaningful engagements with their coworkers. The leadership experience It is all about the leadership experience. Under poor leadership, people will leave eventually, regardless of how much they earn, because it compromises their ability to be human. Industrial and organizational psychology Kelly has been studying the future of work for the last seven years. It frustrates her to see how little industrial and organizational psychology and behavioral science gets brought into leadership decision-making and boardrooms. Understanding more Kelly feels that if we understood more about how people behave, what incentivizes them, and what matters to them, we would have very different organizations today. An old model Our philosophical assumptions in the business realm have not become updated. The focus in MBA business administration and how people get taught to lead in organizations is based on four principles: planning, organizing, directing, and leading resources. That is an old model that no longer works today. In the past Even in the past, those four principles did not create an ideal model. The labor strikes back in the 1920s and 1930s prove that. The government outlawed Frederick Taylor’s way of doing business because it was considered a dehumanized method. Yet, today, our MBA programs are still anchored in that method. New leaders Some new leaders are doing things very differently from what they have inherited and learned. They have decided to work more humanly, even though it becomes more difficult as a business scales. For a business to scale The further you get from your employee population, the harder it is to have human kindness, compassion, and dignity because those qualities become transactional for a business to scale. The question we need to ask In the future of work, we need to ask ourselves what our success metric will be. A new leadership playbook In the future of the digital economy, hypergrowth, innovation, creativity, and creating environments where people can do things differently will scale. That will require a new leadership playbook. The digital economy A digital economy requires a complete change in the skill sets that people have. So we need to create long runways in our organizations to do that without leaving anyone behind. Creating value In today’s digital economy, people and organizations need to be as intelligent as possible to create value. To get to intelligence, organizations will have to invest in research and development, innovation, and upskilling programs. Reframing education systems Children should learn how to be curious. They also need to learn to be okay with failing and how to bounce back with new ideas. Balance The transparency and visibility of digital platforms create more balance in terms of corporate and employee engagement. What leaders should think about When it comes to the future of work, leaders should think about choice and flexibility and what they look like and mean. Leaders should also think about creating the right environment, having the right resources for people to learn and upskill to digital skill-sets, and how to use technology to bring more dignity to people’s jobs. To do that, leaders will need to develop more kindness and compassion in the way they lead. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Accenture Kelly on LinkedIn Kelly on Twitter
21 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
The Future of Work Part One | Ep. 138
Welcome to the first part of an exciting two-part series on the future of work. Sima is happy to have Kelly Monahan, the Global Lead Talent Researcher/ Principle Director at Accenture, joining her as the guest for the series. Research on the future of work Accenture took an in-depth look at the future of work. They wanted to understand what people need and feel today. So they went out and looked at more than 9300 global workers across ten different industries and ten different countries to represent a global workforce. Similar sentiments They had within their data set 70% workers and 30% leadership. So they could make some comparisons. They found that most people, workers and leaders alike, had similar sentiments. Predicting They wanted to predict what was causing people to feel a certain way or make them want to go back on site. How people are feeling about work Some people were optimistic and energized, but the majority were somewhere in the middle and or negative. Disgruntled people A third of the people felt disgruntled. When thinking about the future of work, they were pessimistic, tired, and burned out. They experienced micro-aggressions and felt fatigued. Going through the motions About 30% of people said that they were simply going through the motions of life. They were feeling neither negative nor positive. They were unsure and waiting to see how the leadership would make their key decisions about people returning to work before making a true sentiment on how they feel. Optimistic About 42% are thriving, optimistic, and energized. Researchers Researchers want to know what is going on underneath to cause those differences in sentiment. Life enhancement When looking at mental health scores, Accenture looks at a concept called Life Enhancement which is about whether your work is adding to your life or taking away from it. Net Better Off Net Better Off is a concept that determines whether or not your job is leaving you better off than most other humans in terms of dignity and money in your pocket. Generational differences From a generational perspective, they saw a statistically significant difference with the young people. Gen-Z is struggling the most with mental health, and they tend to be more pessimistic about their future than the other generations. Gen-Xers are also struggling with their mental health, and like Gen-Zers, are unsure about the concepts of Life Enhancement and Net Better Off. Baby Boomers Baby Boomers, however, tend to be pretty optimistic and have adapted well to the new world of work. Millennials Millennials are still fairly optimistic about work and their ability to create change and adapt to the hybrid world. Key moments The key moments in people’s lives tend to impact their expectations and the way they view work. Gen-Z Gen-Zers tend to be hungry for social connections. They feel a need to leave their parental home, grow up, learn to understand things and be mentored. They need in-person interaction to do that. The physical world of work Both millennials and Gen-Z are looking to experience the physical world of work. Work as an experience Gen-Zers tend to view work as an experience, not just a transactional operation to support life. They want their work to contribute to their life. They tend to view their work and personal identities as one thing, rather than having separate professional and personal identities. So they want to see the companies they work for representing their personal values and ethics. C-Suite companies There has been a profound shift with C-suite leaders. CEOs now tend to feel a need to comment on societal issues. Important issues for those who work for C-suite companies have become what a company believes in, how it helps society, and its morality, ethics, and values. Corporations cannot hide Corporations cannot hide any longer because they are now interacting on platforms where all their comments are visible. The separation between people’s personal and professional lives has also become less clear as a result. Complexity Never before has there been so much complexity for researchers around how people view and treat each other in the workplace. Eighteen months ago According to the data, eighteen months ago, 90% of people were still regularly working 9 to 5, on-site, with someone working remotely on the odd occasion. Hybrid Accenture defines hybrid as working remotely for at least 25% of the time. They found from their data sets that people ideally wanted it to be about 50%. Hybrid workers typically choose to work outside of the office for 25-75% of their working time. The big debate around hybrid The current big debate is around the employees’ personal choice when telling their employers how much time they want to spend working on-site versus the employers telling them when to be there. Being fair and inclusive in those situations is a challenge for those in HR because there is no playbook for them to follow. The populations where hybrid appeals most Millennials, baby boomers, and women in minorities appear to have embraced the hybrid model the most. Women tend to play multiple roles. So they prefer having a model where they are less likely to be penalized for doing that. The challenge The challenge is to create cultures, experiences, and visibility, regardless of how people are interacting. Exciting new trends Although some exciting new trends are emerging in technology that will make that possible, our brains are still wired for in-person interaction. Child-care Solving for child care is still a problem for working moms going back to work. Although CHOs are trying to get creative in figuring out ways to incentivize working moms, women are still opting out far more than men right now in the narrative around returning to work. Planning When planning their workforce models, researchers are currently seeing a divergence of strategies. There is no right or wrong, so Kelly advises people to vote with their feet and with what they want. The people who feel the best Data shows that the people who feel the best are those who work in a very balanced environment where they have the choice to be hybrid, and their on-site space is calibrated around cutting-edge technology focused on in-person interaction collaboration. Kelly feels that the companies that best support that will win. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter
23 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
Empathy and Innovation in Measuring Advertising Spend | Ep. 137
Welcome to another exciting episode of the Data Gurus podcast! Today, Sima is happy to have Josh Chasin, the Chief Measurability Officer of Videoamp, as her guest for the show. Josh’s career journey Josh is an audience measurement professional in the world of market research. He has specialized in both media research and audience measurement and has always viewed his career as living at the place where research and marketing overlap. His first job was as a number-cruncher at Arbitron while he was still in college. He then moved on to a full-time job in Arbitron’s Statistical Services department. He was also studying marketing and doing an MBA, which enabled him to get a job as Arbitron’s Manager of Market Development. Learning from the best Josh spent his first seven years at Arbitron gaining a solid grounding and learning sample design from some of the best people in the business. Then he spent another seven years working for their advertiser agency group in marketing, positioning their services to the buy-side users. For his last three years at Arbitron, Josh was their VP of Marketing for new ventures. That was at the time when the internet was emerging. After leaving Arbitron After leaving Arbitron, Josh spent a few years as an entrepreneur and then became President at Simmons for a short time. A consulting practice In the early 2000s, Josh owned a consulting practice for about seven years. Comscore Comscore was one of Josh’s consulting clients. He later became their Chief Research Officer and spent the next thirteen years doing that. Videoamp After leaving Comscore, Josh joined Videoamp. Videoamp lives in the ad tech ecosystem. Founded in 2014, it has become known primarily as a DSP (Demand Side Platform) that helps buy-side agencies plan, buy, execute, optimize, and measure the performance of their buys. Videoamp has recently expanded into the measurement space. Measurement Measurement is at the core of everything happening in advertising. The next generation of cross-platform measurement One of the things that led Josh to Videoamp was that he liked their vision for doing the next generation of cross-platform measurement and wanted to help. Cross-platform measurement The dream of advertisers is to know on an impression-by-impression basis where an impression was delivered and how it contributed to the performance of their campaign. The goal of advertising The goal of advertising is to shift from a mass-broadcast game to a granular one-to-one game where advertisers will know precisely where impressions are going and how they are working. A challenge One of the difficulties that Videoamp faces in media advertising is that heavy viewers tend to consume a disproportionate share of impressions. Their challenge is to distribute impressions to those who do not have their eyes on their screens as often. Reaching consumers on different screens Viewers have different tolerance levels for ad loads in streaming content versus ad loads in traditional linear content. So advertisers need to figure out how to get impressions in front of people in different places. One of the things that cross-platform enables is ways to reach consumers on different screens. The ad spend for Facebook and Google Currently, Facebook and Google account for between 65 and 70% of the total digital ad spend in the US. So they know everything there is to know about how the advertising is working on their platforms. However, advertisers want to understand their advertising campaigns across the platform and holistically. So it is not enough to know only about everything is that is happening inside Facebook or Google. Advertisers want to shift advertising amongst Facebook, Google, NBC, ABC, CBS, and other media channels. Privacy Although Facebook and Google know that people need to understand their advertising campaigns holistically, they have covenants with their users. So they have to respect the privacy of their users. The data generated on those platforms is not necessarily Facebook and Google’s to share. Enabling advertising across platforms Facebook and Google recognize that the whole ecosystem rises with the rising tide, so they have both been active in the WFA initiative to design systems to enable people to look at advertising across the various media platforms. Consumer privacy Privacy is of paramount importance to everyone in the ecosystem. So now applications have to ask if they can track you. There is an almost buried setting that defaults to off where advertisers ask if they may track you. That will impact the availability of data related to consumers, so companies in the measurement space will need to figure out how to build systems that can project up to the census level based on a sample. It will also make panels more important. The younger generation Research has shown that the younger generation is less concerned about issues of privacy. Why Videoamp is different Videoamp has all the right pieces in place at the right time. They have done a great job of meeting the needs of the buy-side. They have solid leadership and many smart people who are dedicated to a vision and are building solutions. They are also highly customer-focused and have clarity of vision around what they are building. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Josh Chasin on LinkedIn
30 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Considerations for Selling Your Company | Ep. 136
Welcome to another exciting episode of the Data Gurus podcast! Today’s episode is a little different. Sima will be focusing on people, or founders, who are considering selling their company. In today’s episode, Sima hosts John Sipala, one of her colleagues at Oberon Securities. John is a Managing Director at Oberon Securities and has more than 25 years of experience in investment banking. The market right now Private equity firms want to be in the market and are looking for companies, so there is a lot of dry powder in the market right now. Many tech companies are performing very well coming out of Covid. Selling is not simple When the market is very active, people start thinking about selling. When talking to the founders of companies, John initially asks them why they want to sell and why they want to sell now. That tells him whether they have thought things through, whether they truly want to sell, and if they need to raise capital. Often, the founders don’t understand that selling will require them to go through several in-between steps. Common themes for people wanting to sell Some people want to sell their company when they feel they have brought it as far as possible. Other owners need to bring in more capital, and some are simply tired and feel ready to move onto something else. Dialogue Business partners should engage in a dialogue before they decide to sell, which will help them understand what others want to do and ensure they are all in lockstep when they eventually do the transaction. A personal involvement When John does a deal, he gets personally invested and it’s not just a transaction for him. He makes sure that he is aligned with the seller’s expectations and there is a high level of success associated with the transaction. The role and value of an investment banker Selling a company involves complex transactions that are often very different from any the founders have experienced before. The transactions are multifaceted, and there are many things, even beyond evaluations, that could affect them. The role of the investment banker is to ensure that all the transactions get done in the right way, from beginning to end. Culture Before selling, consider the culture of the buyer, what their intentions are for the business, and what your role will be after the sale. The market The market is important, but it is not the only driving factor. The timing of the market should not be your primary reason for selling. You have to understand the external part of the market before bringing a deal forward. Strategy Having a strategy for what you want to do and how you intend to go about doing it will add a lot of value to your company when it goes to market. Buyers Avoid making changes to your business when it goes to market. Buyers want things to be going as they are supposed to go. Some high-level things founders should think about when selling: 1. The transition period will be at least six months or even a year. 2. Most buyers like the founders to stay on for longer than the transaction period. It could take as long as two years, so make sure that the role you have during the transaction is the role you want. 3. If you opt for an earn-out, try to keep it short and make sure that you run the business during that time. Roll-over of equity Buying a business with a roll-over of equity is the best way to align the interests of the management with the buyer because if the business performs, everyone benefits. The sellers also benefit because they can get another turn to profit as the business grows. A typical transaction From start to finish, a typical transaction takes between eight months and a year. It could take longer, however, if you need to re-market. The Oberon model The Oberon model adds expertise to the upfront piece of the transaction, which involves talking to the client and obtaining information. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Oberon Securities John Sipala on LinkedIn
21 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Social Asking | Ep. 135
Welcome to another exciting episode of the Data Gurus Podcast! Today, Sima is happy to have Tim Wilson as her guest for the show. Tim is the CEO and Co-Founder of Qutee. Tim’s journey After attaining a legal degree in the UK, Tim went to music school in Hollywood. He later returned to the UK, received some funding for a record label, and ended up touring with bands like Def Leppard and Alice Cooper and releasing some records. In 2009, after gambling with a few commercial projects in the UK, Tim moved to New York. Then, in 2012, he and his business partner acquired some NLP technology and embarked on a slow process of looking for areas where they could use the technology in unique ways. A comments platform They built a comments platform over the following two years. It was a simple yet ground-breaking plug-in to filter user’s comments. It could be used to listen, help engagement, and have smarter conversations with more insights. A survey tool They also built a survey tool that was used with some major health engagements, like the National Health Service in the UK. Creating a social UX They then came up with the idea of creating something bigger. Having already built a cutting-edge comments system that provided them with analytics, they decided to create a social UX. They wanted to provide consumers with smart conversations and a smart conversation experience while also engaging with them in a social environment and collecting qualitative and resilient insights. They hoped it would stimulate more participation in surveys and allow brands to create panels and focus groups overnight. That was the gestation of Qutee. Investors When Tim and his partner showed their investors what they wanted to do, the investors agreed to help them build it. Starting small They started as a small team, doing fundraisers from time to time, and eventually got Qutee up and running. Influencers They started working with three or four gaming tech influencers very early on when they were still in the alpha stage of their development. For the next two-and-a-half years, the influencers pushed their audiences towards Tim and his partner while they drove insights, created reports, and perfected their technology, analytics methodology, and reporting. Pre-Covid Just before Covid, they were about to go to market. Not able to do that as a result of Covid, they accepted that things would move slowly and decided to keep working on their API and technology. Now, things have started to accelerate. Qutee They call Qutee social asking. It is a place where you can have an open-ended conversation. You can share it with your audiences via social media and CRM and use influencer audiences to drive conversations. People comment and answer via polls, and it gets analyzed in real-time. They also have an analytics dashboard, and with the click of a button, they will give you a comprehensive call-on-call report. Their focus Qutee focuses on allowing brands to engage their passionate audiences, social, and CRM at scale within hours. Insights methodologyQutee’s insights methodology is superior to sentiment analysis because they ask users to type their comments or sentiment and then analyze them using augmented/collaborative AI. Report They then create a comprehensive and relevant report showing all the participation numbers and NPS they pull out using the AI representative comments. They also give the polls, the conversational breakdown, topics, and the representative comments across verticals of tagging and NLP. Consumer-focused Qutee is consumer-focused. They have created an environment where consumers feel happy to collaborate with the brands and feel their voices are heard. They can also work on an industrial scale. Games For games, it is vital to get the player’s perspective. Getting information and insights on the issues they are experiencing and how they think they should get fixed is very important. That is where Qutee comes in because it allows users to see things from the consumer’s perspective. Passionate consumers Passionate consumers are those who are wedded to your product and organically spread faith about it. They are the people to who you have to listen. Comments So far, Qutee has collected 160 000 comments. Their average comment length is five times that of YouTube. Qutee users can also see some of the insights, and you can share things with them to drive further qualitative discussions. The best of all worlds With Qutee, you have the commenting element, the NLP element, and you also have the polls intersecting. Qutee feels social Qutee feels social and friendly, just like a regular experience on social media. That is why it has been successful. The only thing you are required to pay for on Qutee is the reports. Passionate audiences Qutee is all about having passionate audiences and people who care. They are all about truth, passion, and quality. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Tim Wilson on Twitter Tim Wilson on LinkedIn Qutee website
22 minutes | May 18, 2021
Hybrid Approach to Insights; Consumer Financial Data +Survey Data | Ep. 134
Welcome to another exciting episode of the Data Gurus Podcast! Today, Sima is happy to welcome Anton Umnov, the VP of Consumer Insights and Partnerships at Drop Technologies Inc., as her guest for the show. Anton’s journey to where he is today Anton started working in the consumer insights and data space about ten years ago. He spent a long time at Nielsen Data Analytics, where he had many engagements on the client-side with various experiences across multiple categories. Then, about a year ago, he joined Drop. Data analytics and consumer research Anton loves data analytics and consumer research. He particularly enjoys the intersection between data and research. Drop Drop is a consumer app with about four million users based primarily in the US and Canada. It is a downloadable platform that focuses on driving loyalty rewards and value for the clients, users, or consumers. Apart from getting great deals, shoppers can also get rewarded for doing surveys and playing games. Why Drop is different You can connect the information from your bank account to Drop. That will allow you to unlock better deals and offers from brands and retailers automatically. So you do not have to scan receipts or use loyalty cards. Drop users The majority of Drop users are millennials and Gen Z. In most cases, the users are willing to connect their bank accounts to Drop for a seamless experience and better deals. Security Security is one of Drop’s primary concerns. A younger audience Although the big retailers already have many shoppers, they still work with Drop as clients because they think of Drop as having a younger millennial audience and consider it a user acquisition gain. Retailers Smaller retailers use Drop to attract new customers after launching a new brand or product. For the bigger retailers, it is all about the loyalty play. Drop can share a lot of data with the retailers because they have their customers’ banking information. They can see exactly where the customers were shopping in the last six months. That allows them to prove to the retailers that the customer that they attracted is incremental for them. Share wallet switches At Drop, they can see the share wallet switches, which allows them to provide all their partners with additional analytics that help them evaluate the success of their campaigns. It also allows their partners to see if they gained any volume over the last few weeks and where their sales originated. Data by category At Drop, they sell data by category. They are currently tracking about forty different categories. Those include food delivery, CPG, financial services, and travel. They also go to specific retailers and brands to see who is winning and losing and why. Launching surveys automatically At Drop, they see spending transactions almost immediately. So they can do an NPS-type survey, or a more complex one, right away. A hybrid product They have a hybrid product on the market that has quite a large amount of transactional data. They also talk to people to find out why they switched to another brand or retailer. Two pillars At Drop, they have two pillars that work hand-in-hand. They have an app to maximize the number of points and rewards that their consumers will get. They also have the data side of the business that works in conjunction with the app itself because the more data they monetize on the market from working with different brands, the more value they can provide for their users in terms of rewards. Market research analytics Market research analytics is a big part of Drop’s overall business. It is one of their key pillars for 2021 and beyond. Expanding Drop is trying to expand outside of traditional CPG and pressure retail. They are also focusing on some of the newer industries, like food delivery and crypto. Stimulus tracker Via their Stimulus Tracker study, they tried to help the banks and hedge funds understand how people were spending the stimulus money that was deposited into their accounts. A surprising finding They found that right away, many people invested the money they received on home improvements. Many consumers also invested some of their money in stocks and crypto. That was a surprising finding for the team at Drop because their audience is mainly millennials. A joint approach They used a joint approach incorporating both transactional data and survey research for the study. Data and insights Drop spent their first year making sure that their data made sense. Then, last year, they started putting some of their insights on the market. The biggest obstacle For Anton, the biggest obstacle is trying to find a product-market fit that combines data and surveys. The challenge Drop has coverage on forty industries. That makes it challenging for Anton to decide on which industry to target and focus on. The future vision Drop is expanding. They are doing some work in the UK currently. They will be focusing primarily on the US and also on Canada for this year and the next. The goal Their goal is to maximize different revenue streams, rewards, and points for their members. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Anton on LinkedIn
27 minutes | May 11, 2021
Qualt: Quant+Qual = Agile Research | Ep. 133
In this exciting episode, Sima is excited to have Nitzan Shaer, the CEO, and Co-Founder of Wevo, joining her. Nitzan’s background Wevo is the fourth company that Nitzan has either started or joined early on. He loves the thrill of joining a team of like-minded people in the early days of a new venture. Skype was among the companies that he joined early on, which were all in the space of trying to help consumers solve a big problem. Wevo The context for Wevo got formulated while Nitzan was with Skype. He started thinking about other industries where the cost-per-minute was very expensive, and reducing the costs would make them more efficient. A nightmare At Skype, they wanted to understand more about their customers, but it was too expensive. It was also a nightmare to collect user research to know which products to build and which features to improve. The background for creating Wevo Wanting to listen to their customers more, and knowing they were in an industry where costs could get reduced dramatically, were factors behind the creation of Wevo. Reducing the time it takes At Wevo, they take a process that usually takes about 200 hours to run, like a feasibility study or focus group, and reduce it to a half hour. What Wevo does Wevo is an AI tool to listen to customers, hear their needs and challenges with their user or entire customer experience, and provide validated insights on the core problems, the core hurdles, and the things that are working very well. They answer why people are experiencing a challenge in their user experience. That enables a team to generate a better user experience. They also enable their users to validate their ideas. The user With Wevo, the user needs to define its target audience and identify the experience he is trying to optimize. That usually takes less than ten minutes. At the end of the process, the user gets a report with all the needed information. Updates The expectations of users are continuously evolving. Wevo believes in a continuous flow of updates around what people are feeling and how they are responding. Partnership Wevo has a partnership with multiple participant providers to help its customers find their exact target audience. Three lenses It is hard to evaluate the user experience, so through a process that began about four years ago, they have developed three primary lenses through which they look at each user experience: What happens on the pages of a user experience Areas that are roadblocks or hurdles to conversion Areas that are helping the engagement Diagnostic drivers The diagnostic driver, which examines areas to understand them and to benchmark progress. Areas examined include clarity, appeal, credibility, relevance, and overall experience. Expectations versus reality The technology asks people about their hopes and concerns when considering purchasing a product or service. Then, once they have experienced it, they ask them to answer whether their expectation got met or not. Human-augmented AI is vital in that process. The Wevo Sentiment Map The Wevo Sentiment Map shows the areas of the biggest problems in the experience and the areas that are the biggest helpers. Quant and qual Everything they do is quant and qual, so they also explain why there is a problem. (They call that qualt.) Nitzan points out that many systems today lack the partnership between quantitative and qualitative. Those who gravitate to the Wevo solution They are currently seeing much adoption with UX researchers, designers, marketers, and product managers. Engineering teams have also started using it. The disruptive power of Wevo Wevo is compressing the time it takes for people to get validated feedback. That means that organizations can move quickly because their learning starts to accelerate. Their ability to take risks also accelerates because they can test everything. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Wevo
28 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Part Two: Leadership and Perspectives | Ep. 132
Welcome to today’s podcast! In today’s special episode, Sima continues her conversation with Gary Laben, the CEO of Dynata in the second part of the exciting two-part interview. In this episode, Gary and Sima continue with their discussion about the things that influence the size of opportunity within the industry and discuss whether doing things faster will denigrate the research process. They also talk about standardizing the data-collection process, acquisitions, integration, and culture. The size of the opportunity for the entire Industry Up until now, many people have defined the size of the market research industry at around 80 billion dollars worldwide. However, the advancement of technology is bringing more players and different buying audiences into the space. Gary believes that two things drive the number: the changes that are going on within traditional market research from a technological standpoint and the marketing services ecosystem, which Gary sees as being continuous. The work that gets done in market research Gary believes that market research is inextricably connected to lead and demand generation, CRM, and advertising. And the work that gets done in market research is ultimately to understand someone so that some behavior, purchase, or customer relationship can get driven. Gary believes the data that drives the decisions at the start should be the underlying or first-party data that drives the execution of those ideas. If you can keep that data consistent along that continuum, you will reduce the opportunities for getting it wrong. An order of magnitude Gary thinks there is an order of magnitude of size and opportunity in market research. And the rest of the marketing services spectrum is another order of magnitude on top of that. Gary estimates the total value to be a couple of trillion dollars, which is very exciting! Agile research The introduction of agile research into the industry has allowed Gary and his team to address the challenges in they could not reach previously. Will faster denigrate the research process? Gary believes that market researchers have to be fast, ask the right questions, and have a sound methodology and diverse representation. They should also ensure the fidelity of a given project. Value proposition Dynata’s value proposition will always be to provide the highest quality first-party data to drive their outcomes. They will not drop that in the pursuit of speed or any other metric that adjusts to the changing market dynamics. Standardizing data As an industry, we have not made the progress we need, so Gary thinks that standardizing the way data gets collected for market research is vital. Acquisition Dynata makes its acquisitions in one of two ways. If they want to expand their data asset or the capabilities surrounding it, they look for businesses in geographies where they might be under-represented, like the African continent. They look for companies and assets that would help them to build out their insights platform. Insights platform Dynata launched their insights platform a couple of years ago with the idea of having one place for their clients to come to do everything from accessing their data to performing the entire set of market research activities related to their data. They have been working toward arranging all the puzzle pieces to ensure the platform is a complete offering for their clients. Dynata hired third-parties to achieve integration with their acquired companies and to create value. Culture Gary points out that a shared purpose binds people together and wants to ensure the strategy and direction they have chosen at Dynata is the best it can possibly be. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Dynata
20 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Part One: Leadership and Perspectives | Ep. 131
In today’s episode, Sima is happy to welcome you to the podcast, which is the first part of an exciting two-part interview that she did with Gary Laben, the CEO of Dynata. Today, in the first part of the series, Gary talks to Sima about his journey that led to where he is today. He also talks about his general leadership style and the impact Covid-19 has had on him as a leader and on his business. They close the episode with Gary giving a deeper understanding of how he views the landscape and where Dynata’s core area of focus lies within the market. A perspective of Gary’s career and how he got to Dynata Gary started his career by working his way up in the culinary world over the summers while in college. He was offered a position in a data marketing business, which he did for a summer before graduating. He enjoyed that so much that when he got offered a full-time role in the data marketing business, he put everything else aside to try out the world of data. From there, he moved on to various roles within different data companies. Moving over to Dynata Although he had never worked with first-party data accessibility before, it had always fascinated him. So, when an opportunity arose on that side five years ago, he moved over to the company now known as Dynata. Gary’s experience at Dynata Gary has had tremendous experiences at Dynata and even though the industry is rather tight right now, and people have been moving in and out of the organization, Gary has enjoyed seeing his relationships continue throughout the industry. Learning the business As he learns the business, Gary often jokes that even after five years, there is rarely a meeting that he attends where he knows anything more than anybody else about the subject at hand regarding tools, techniques, and capabilities in market research. Gary’s favorite part of his job Gary loves to meet with clients. The best part of his job is to spend time with the folks interested in working with Dynata, even though things are getting done virtually for the most part right now. The second best part for him is to do little talking and still come out way ahead because his clients will have learned a lot about what Dynata can do better and what they need to do in the future. Getting back out Now, the people at Dynata are talking about ways to make it possible for them to get back out to their offices around the world. It appears that Asia will be the first place to which Gary will be able to return. Virtual engagement At Dynata, they engage with their clients virtually. They also have town halls where they regularly engage at a regional level and an office level. Gary sometimes even gets asked to appear virtually and unannounced, at monthly team meetings. Gary’s leadership style At Dynata, the leadership style needs to be empowerment. They cover all geographies and have broad service offerings, so they have leaders of both geographies and functional areas within the business. Gary feels that he has less familiarity and experience in particular sectors than many of those leaders have. Because of that, he loves to give those people autonomy. They have an aggressive and methodical goal-setting and management process, so allowing people to operate very independently within the boundaries of execution, without having oversight, is the key. Humor The pandemic has shone a light on things far more important than people’s day jobs. Being able to approach leadership with consideration to priorities, and looking for places to inject some humor, is very important for Gary right now. Covid Covid affected the company’s goal-setting process in that they had to think differently. They set themselves up as a business to preserve liquidity and to ensure their employees were safe. New goals One vital new principle they set was to figure out how to thrive. An aggressive expansion strategy They set out an aggressive expansion strategies in parts of the business. That was so successful that they decided to continue using those strategies. Acceleration of change They also realized that the acceleration of change could happen at any given time and are currently happening a whole lot faster than they were before. Resilience Dynata decided to embrace the very thing they feared at the beginning of the pandemic and apply their newly-acquired resilience to their day-to-day operations going forward. So they started looking for ways to get to the best solutions as quickly as possible. The business within which Dynata works Dynata is in the provision of first-party data to drive insights and answers businesses and companies need to drive and execute their strategy and day-to-day success. They surround that with several products and services that facilitate their access and use to the data to drive those answers even better. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter
23 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
Voice Tech & Research with Mike Page | Ep. 130
On today’s show, Sima welcomes Mike Page, the Co-founder and Chief Executive of Phebi, as her guest on the podcast. The founding story of Phebi Phebi has been around for a little more than a year and their focus is on the insights industry. Their journey has been around the explosion in voice and voice tech when they saw the whole landscape of how people interact with technology was shifting to voice. That created a wonderful opportunity for insights specialists and researchers. It gave researchers the chance to offer their respondents a better experience while simultaneously creating a richer source of insight for themselves. Talking versus typing People talk more naturally than they type, so you tend to get longer, richer answers. The audio can get people used to listening to how people are speaking and not just responding to written word. Webinars Phebi started with some webinars with friendly companies, like Askia, which were very well received. Then, a London company wanted to try what Phebi was offering, so they presented at a healthcare research conference, and that was how Phebi really got its start. They won the innovation award In January, Phebi went to the IAX Conference and won the innovation award. That was very prestigious for a small company! Phebi continued to grow Soon after they won the award in 2020, the world shut down. Since then, things have continued to grow. Things have taken off Their message resonated. And the ability to capture non-conscious metrics to use alongside things like text analytics from an audio source that is easy to collect in a self-serve manner, has taken off. Non-conscious measurement With non-conscious measurement, you have the potential to pick up more nuanced sentiments and emotions that could not get spotted before. Doing that at scale is much of what Phebi does. Non-conscious measurements can help researchers get to insights quicker and more effectively. It adds the resonance that comes with audio so researchers can capture people’s first sentiments related to a question. Emotional Resonance Score The Emotional Resonance Score is one of the things that they provide for comparing things. Non-conscious measurement is a good predictor When you use a non-conscious measurement to compare things, it is very good at predicting what people are likely to feel the most passionate about or connected to. A live setting They even have some clients who are using Phebi in a live setting, where they are looking at people’s true sentiments and emotions while an interview is in process. Non-conscious measurement combined with a 3-D transcription When a non-conscious measurement gets combined with a 3-D transcription, it opens a lot of opportunity for understanding how people feel about something. Getting better and quicker At Phebi, they have gotten better and better and quicker and quicker at delivering self-serve tools that will help people extract insights from voice. Going faster 2020 has allowed them to establish their technology and grow much faster. Now, everything gets done virtually, so their whole adoption process has accelerated. People don’t always say what they mean People don’t always say what they mean. So hearing how they say things can be very interesting. The Phebi portal After gaining access to the Phebi portal, you can upload any audio into it. There, everything gets organized. You can then create groups and subgroups to get the emotional scores in all the different sections. The Phebi plug-in You will also get the Phebi plug-in to manage the technical aspect of things. It works with all the main survey platforms. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Mike Page on LinkedIn Phebi’s website Email Mike at email@example.com Sponsors: Paradigm Sample
24 minutes | Apr 6, 2021
Data Quality in the Financial Markets | Ep. 129
In today’s episode, Sima is excited to welcome Gangesh Ganesan, the Founder and CEO of PeerNova, as her guest on the show. This podcast is typically about data and the data ecosystem. Today, however, Gangesh takes us into the area of the financial market. In this episode, he explains the importance of ensuring that data has good quality and is accurate. PeerNova PeerNova is a Silicon Valley-based data company founded by Gangesh Ganesan about five years ago. They have offices in Silicon Valley, San Jose, London, and New York. Although their themes mostly get distributed worldwide, the core is in Silicon Valley. Some of their development happens in Eastern Europe and they also have a theme in Brazil. A global company PeerNova is a global company. They are venture-funded and raised a substantial amount of capital to develop their software platform. Software platform The PeerNova software platform is called Cuneiform and offers data quality for financial institutions. Data quality Data quality means ensuring the correctness, completeness, consistency, and timeliness of data that might get distributed across different applications, databases, data stores, and data warehouses in a global financial institution. Making the correct decisions Currently, data quality is vital for making the correct decisions in the financial industry. It has been a big problem in that industry for the last two or three decades. Financial Institutions Financial institutions typically solved their data quality problem by employing many people to ensure that data was correct, complete, and consistent. In some cases, it could take tens of thousands of people to solve the problem for large financial institutions. The Cuneiform platform saves time and money The Cuneiform platform is about applying technology to automate as many of the workflows as possible. It can do that at a substantially lower cost, and more importantly, it does it near real-time. Inspiration Early on, Gangesh was inspired by some ideas that came about in blockchains. A crucial notion in blockchains is that of lineage, with which you can find the origin of any transaction. And you can track it either forward or backward to find the seed or genesis event. That idea inspired Gangesh to build a generic software platform with which every piece of data could get tracked in that way. Data quality They soon realized that maintaining the lineage and ‘audit trails’ of the data quality of financial institutions at scale and solving for correctness, completeness, and consistency problems was a vital challenge. It took them four or five years to build their Cuneiform platform. Financial institutions have been undergoing many changes Financial institutions have been undergoing many changes over the last twenty years. And their pain points have become very acute. The current focus The entire focus of Gangesh’s business is currently in capital markets and financial institutions. The Zero Code Using what is known as Zero Code, Gangesh has ensured business users, who are often tech-savvy but are not developers, can have the four attributes of data quality-correctness, consistency, completeness, and timeliness for all their data. Accuracy In the financial industry, they cannot afford to make any mistakes, so their data quality needs to be accurate one hundred percent of the time. Enterprise selling Enterprise selling of software at very high levels can be a problem, so Gangesh offers his clients the chance to do a free pilot to see if their model works for that specific use case. Reference-able clients are a big deal at PeerNova, so they also try to identify easy-to-replicate use cases to have a step-and-repeat concept that is easy to demonstrate. The problem of data quality The problem of data quality is something fundamental. The financial industry has always lacked a comprehensive end-to-end solution for that problem.
38 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
Leaders in Qualitative Research: Impact of Covid-19 and Leadership | Ep. 128
On today's show, Sima is excited to host a panel of three powerful and well-respected women as her guests. Tiffany Hays is the CEO of FUEL Global. She is and also CEO of The Focus Room. Aryn O’Donnell is the Vice President of Corporate Services of Fieldwork. And Kelli Hammock is Senior Client Solutions Manager at L&E Research. Tiffany, Aryn, and Kelli are all in the qualitative space in which Covid-19 greatly impacted. The impact of Covid-19 on Fieldwork Fieldwork has in-person qualitative research spaces that got impacted by Covid-19. At Fieldwork, they have always been solving their clients’ problems, and right now, they are solving new problems. They got forced to think differently, ask questions, and find new ways to connect with their industry colleagues. The impact of Covid on L&E Research L&E Research had to make a big pivot to learn how to get proactive around the changes that happened within the industry and the company. They had to come up with solutions to apply to the new problems that their clients were having. The biggest thing for them, professionally, was getting out of the reactive mode and figuring out how to make things work. The Impact of Covid on Tiffany, as a leader The biggest thing for Tiffany, as a leader, was making sure that her employees had even more flexibility than she was used to giving them. There were new challenges that she never expected to face as a leader. She had to set boundaries for her teams to ensure that everyone gave each other space and checked up on one another’s mental health within their organization of about 25 employees. They had to become aware of the new challenges with which people were dealing. The impact of Covid on FUEL Global In the business itself, Tiffany’s clients preferred to be in-person. So there was some push-back to them having to use an online qualitative platform. Working on a global scale, the company had to learn to manage clients across the globe. One of their biggest challenges was ensuring that the clients could get what they needed in the online world. A breaking point Tiffany believes that this will be the breaking point in our industry, where the clients realize that they can do both in-person and virtual. And we will see a permanent reduction in in-person research. Clients are thinking critically Aryn believes that clients are now thinking critically about what the goals of their research are. And they are deciding what they need because all research cannot get done remotely. Producing revenue Understanding client’s objectives clearly, and helping them figure out how to get what they need out of the research is vital right now. Tiffany is helping her clients figure out how to get things done because that is not going away. And that, in itself, produces revenue. Safety within the facility From a facility perspective, Aryn feels that it is her company’s role to educate the clients. And work with them to find the right solution in terms of safety protocols. From where the hesitation to get back to in-person research is coming Kelli does not think that any hesitation to get back to in-person research is coming from the respondents. She feels that it is coming from a corporate legal perspective. Where we are most likely to see in-person research get back to normal We are most likely to see in-person research getting back to normal in the markets with many local clients who need not travel too far to get to the facility. Flexibility and support Some challenges that research companies have to manage currently around their workforce are offering flexibility and support. And setting boundaries. They also have to address the mental health repercussions of the pandemic. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Infinity-2.com Tiffany Hays on LinkedIn Aryn O’Donnell on LinkedIn Kelli Hammock on LinkedIn Sponsors: Paradigm Sample All Member Audio Podcast Spot
20 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Are Your Ads Getting to the Right Audience? | Ep. 127
Today, Sima welcomes Andy Davidson from the Engine Group as her guest. Andy is the Head of Analytics and Data Strategy at Engine. The Engine Group The Engine Group is a full-service marketing services firm specializing in a range of things from insights and analytics to planning and content and distribution. Background Andy has been with the Engine Group for about two years. Before that, he spent twenty-five years in various assignments across research analytics and data science. He worked on the client-side as well as on the agency side. His focus has been on helping advertisers and their agencies in addressing business problems with data analytics. He spent a lot of time helping his clients develop marketing strategies. And then personalizing the customer experience and measuring those efforts in the returns they are getting. Engine specializes in three areas Insights and analytics: This function supports both advertisers and agencies in making better decisions using data and analytics. Planning and content: These are about creative and media strategy and media planning. Distribution: Engine owns a proprietary ad exchange. They have relationships with a lot of the publisher networks. Through that capability, they can place media programmatically for much of the market. That includes both the agencies and the advertisers directly. A combination of services The Engine Group has a combination of services, from a data and analytics perspective and a distribution perspective, that many other firms in their arena don’t normally have. That creates a seamless experience for their customers. Their clients are increasingly becoming multiple threads. They also have plenty of more single-threaded situations. There are some key challenges in the ad space When it comes to audience targeting, media campaigns don’t always reach where they are supposed to. That can happen as often as fifty percent of the time. At Engine, they recognize that challenge, and they have invested a lot in helping their clients overcome it. Data The targeting challenge, at its core, is a data and analytics problem. Data is behind every decision that an advertiser makes around bidding on an opportunity, whether it is a video ad, a display ad, or a CTV-type impression. Accurate data That data is usually pretty accurate when it comes to straight-forward behaviors, like past purchases and demographics. Where things tend to fall apart Things tend to fall apart, and problems become apparent in the area where advertisers spend a lot of money. That area includes attitudes, intentions, and sentiments in the softer type of targeting requirements. A huge opportunity All the requirements around attitudes are a huge opportunity. At Engine, the focus is on investing in solutions that build a better cross-walk between the people who the advertiser wants to reach and the people to whom the advertising gets sold to reach that goal. Programmatic media Programmatic media is all about understanding who you are looking at and what their attitudes and behaviors are. No validation There is no validation for many of the data solutions out there, particularly those related to attitudes. Improving precision At Engine, they are working in the opportunity area of data solutions to improve precision. They do that by building from the ground up using survey research, starting with the voice of the customer. The measure of success Their success can get measured by comparing the legacy model with the new model to see how many more people they have reached in a particular segment. Their best measure of success is whether or not they got to the person they wanted to get to. Their success can also be measured by whether or not the campaign ultimately had the expected effect. The future of ad measurement The future of ad measurement looks very exciting for Andy. We will soon reach the point where most things are connected.
19 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
The Hidden Meaning Behind Digital Conversations with Erinn Taylor | Ep. 126
Sima is excited to welcome Erinn Taylor as her guest for today’s podcast. Erinn is the Executive Vice President of Product and Platform at Canvs AI. He has had a breadth of experience within the field of market research. Some of Erinn’s background Erinn grew up in market research. He worked his way up at several different organizations. About a year ago, he met the founder of Canvs and was intrigued with what he was doing related to text analytics, so he joined Canvs. A great year Canvs had a great year last year. They have done a lot technology-wise, and they have grown the platform. Canvs Canvs is a text analytics platform, and they think it is the best solution in marketing. They call it an evolution of sentiment analysis because they use more nuanced emotions. They take data and analyze it and provide themes and insights directly from the consumer. The organization is about six or seven years old. They work with companies like Disney and Netflix. Speaking unnaturally With the technology they were using, they could expose what consumers and viewers were seeing. And what they were saying about programs. They utilized that information to learn how people speak unnaturally. They found that in a modern era with a lot of digital text, we tend to talk differently than we might otherwise because we use shorthand and emojis. Learning new things Things change over time, so we have to keep learning. Many other applications have tried to do text analytics, but it requires a lot of training and data to get and understand a small sample, and Canvs has already done that work. An ontology Canvs has an ontology that they have cultivated through AI and NLP. They also have some social listening tools to see people on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. The best bring-your-own-get-a-platform Erinn thinks that Canvs is the best bring-your-own-data-platform in the industry to identify what people are saying. Also, to identify how they are feeling about what they are talking about. Any survey platform The Canvs platform is intelligent and easy to use. It works with any survey platform. It’s quick and easy It only takes a few clicks of the mouse, and most data sets get processed in one to two minutes. Sentiment analysis vs emotions Traditional sentiment analysis is positive/negative/neutral. At Canvs, they have their Canvs proprietary emotional mapping, with which they can identify forty-two core emotions. And they have a data science team who have spent many years getting to understand groupings around the core emotions. Things change over time People and language change over time, so they continue to upgrade. The way people speak Through the way people speak, they can identify and expose how they are feeling. And also the context in which they are feeling it. And they can work out what people are talking about. Use cases Canvs started in the media space. Currently, they work with companies like Disney to find out how well people are speaking about their airings, and to see how their movies are trending. They also do ad testings to see what people are saying about the ads. The goal for the future They would like Canvs to be the core platform for analyzing unstructured data for organizations, brands, research partners, and communities. Links: Email me your thoughts! Sima@Infinity-2.com LinkedIn Twitter Erinn on LinkedIn Sponsors: Paradigm Sample All Member Audio Podcast Spot
29 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
Model Free Vs Model Based with Hunter Thurman | Ep. 125
Sima Vasa is excited to welcome Hunter Thurman, the President and Founder of Alpha-Diver, as her guest today. Hunter has been in the insights and strategy world for the last twenty years. Some background for Alpha-Diver In 2011, Hunter got to a point where he felt dissatisfied with how he was doing insights and research and translating it into a strategy. (Subsequently, he learned that his approach had been model-free. And the industry had also been operating in a model-free way at the time.) Around that time, Hunter started exploring, stepping out of the industry, and hanging around with neuroscientists, psychologists, and people from the world of academia. He forged a copasetic relationship with the academics, which became the basis for the company, Alpha-Diver. They use mostly neuroscience. But they also use a lot of psychology, which they translate for business applications to answer the questions that help companies serve their consumers. A framework Hunter later realized that when you have a framework, a place to start, a foundation, and a model, it’s much more rewarding. And it can lead to much richer discoveries. The pain point With the model-free approach, it was hard to explain how they were doing what they were doing. Although Hunter was in a leadership role, he did not feel that he could teach very well because he did not have a model from which to work. In a model-based space In a model-based space, you are going out, and using an established model instead of collecting data broadly and bringing it back to an existing model. Some surprises when talking to people in academia Hunter was surprised at how applicable the academic knowledge that he received was. He was also surprised at how relevant those insights could be, how little connectivity there is from the academic world to the rest of the world, and how dissatisfied many academics are. He had always assumed that neuroscience would be far more technical, far more physiological, and much less applied than he discovered it truly is. Insights challenges Going out, and looking at insights challenges, whether you are looking at the segmentation, the journey mapping, or the drivers and barriers of your brand or category, is very chaotic, noisy, and difficult to organize. That caused researchers to overlook what is going on between the ears of a consumer. Yet we have quite a simple explanation of human cognition and the lenses we use to react to the world around us. What a model-based approach means A model-based approach can be likened to us using all five of our senses. Neuroscience What neuroscience has discovered is that there are durable and predictable drivers and barriers, which are pretty simple, and happen mostly subconsciously in people’s brains. The 9 Whys Hunter and his partners developed a framework that they call The 9 Whys. It tells us that there are four drivers and five barriers that can simplify the world. The drivers The drivers range from very rational and practical, to social and tribal, sensory and exploratory, to impulsive and instinctive. In a given context, one of those four drivers would become the primary lens that a person uses to make decisions. And in a different context, a different driver could apply to the same person. Context We have gained from neuroscience the recognition that context has an enormous impact on the driver that we are using. Currently, occasions are the incarnation of how the industry is looking at context. The five barriers The five barriers are: Price (Price is the least punitive) Time Effort or Physical barriers Social Emotional The questionnaire The questionnaire that Hunter and his team are using is simple in that it can get administered in a regular survey. The data from it provides them with certain tells of an individual's psychology, and their cognitive processes, in the context they are studying.
20 minutes | Mar 2, 2021
Perspectives on the MRX Industry + Running for President of ESOMAR Council with Kristin Luck | Ep. 124
Sima Vasa is excited to welcome Kristin Luck once again as her guest! Kristin is the founder and managing partner of Scalehouse Consulting, and Kristi and I are both advisors at Oberon Securities, on the investment banking side. Where the industry is, as related to the impact of Covid The abrupt impact of the pandemic on the overall economy brought the industry to a near standstill last spring. It is unlikely to return to its 2019 turnover levels until 2022. ESOMAR Although ESOMAR initially predicted a downturn in research revenues of up to 30%, we still ended up with a stronger third and fourth quarter than predicted, particularly with tech and digital businesses. The digital side of the industry There is a lot of controversy surrounding the digital side of the industry regarding its accuracy, approach, and basis in terms of true research methodology. A revolution The pandemic is accelerating a revolution in the research space. So there were many naysayers about many of the digital technologies, particularly on the qualitative side of the business, going into 2020. When the pandemic hit, it started to fuel the tech revolution and acted as an accelerator to the dynamic shifts that we were already seeing with the digital technology segments and the established market research segments. Masking the effects of the pandemic The performance of the tech and digitally-enabled segments masked the effect that the pandemic had on the established part of the industry. The established part experienced a downturn of 15% last year, in contrast to the 9% growth expected across the digital and tech-enabled segment. Face-to-face qualitative Kristin does not think that face-to-face qualitative is dead. She feels that there is value in face-to-face contact with respondents. And in many cases, qualitative research can be conducted in a digital format and still produce quality results. Migration to more digital techniques We will see a substantial and permanent migration to more digital techniques. And there will be a combination of methodologies that will integrate both types of tech and digital. Blockchain Most of the companies that started in the blockchain space have pivoted. Although blockchain as a technology still has value, many businesses that were focused on being blockchain-only companies realize that they need to have products that deliver value other than the blockchain platform. Although blockchain is a means to the end and can enhance a portfolio of products and solutions, it is not the end to the product. An ESOMAR member Kristin has been an ESOMAR member for almost eleven years, and she has been on the board called ESOMAR Council for the last six years. For the past two years, she was Vice-President. ESOMAR ESOMAR is a little different from some of the local and regional associations in that they are truly a global association. They look at everything from privacy to data ethics and sound research methods around the globe. And they give those a global perspective. A global perspective Kristin has been involved with ESOMAR for a long time because having that global perspective has been invaluable to her career and the businesses she has developed. Getting some insight into how research gets conducted in other regions gives Americans a broader look at opportunities for researching new and different ways. How ESOMAR differs from other industry associations The overall global look is what sets ESOMAR apart from other industry associations. ESOMAR focused on keeping track of the lobbying for privacy and data ethics all around the world. The structure of ESOMAR The ESOMAR Council consists of elected individuals. Underrepresented North and South America, Africa, and Asia are underrepresented in ESOMAR. So ESOMAR members need to remember to vote for the candidates in their region. Running for President Kristin is running for President of ESOMAR.
29 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
Qualitative Resilience –The Prediction | Ep. 123
Sima Vasa is excited to have Bob Qureshi join her today. Bob is the co-owner and managing partner of i-view viewing facilities in London. Bob talks about the history of his business In the 1960s and 1970s, most of the qualitative research in the UK took place at the home of the recruiter. Over the years, specific facilities for research were being built in the US. Then, in the 80s, that also started to happen in the UK. A game-changer In 2010, Bob looked at the UK facilities and saw that they were all laid out like recruiter’s living rooms. They lacked things like white marker boards, places to put stimulus, and the ability to screen. So Bob decided to start with a game-changer and build everything they needed on one floor, in an easy to get to location in central London, with wide doors and access for people with special needs. They paid specific attention to detail, which means they made sure that they took account of everything. Bob’s background Bob’s background was in the corporate client-side, and he has always had an interest in qualitative research. Best Viewing Facility For the last three years in a row, i-view was awarded Best Viewing Facility in the UK. That is not an easy thing to do, and Bob feels very humbled by it. The impact of the pandemic The impact of the pandemic has been quite devastating for Bob. Collaboration Bob realized that the key thing was to replace the word “competition” with the word “collaboration”. So he decided to talk to the other viewing facilities, to collectively agree on which message they would send, who they would send it to, and how they could drive it forward. Rates relief In stopping unnecessary costs in the UK, they managed to save the municipality rates relief of over a million pounds across all the viewing facilities. They managed to recover very quickly as a result. A similar standard Through the collaboration, all the viewing facilities in the UK are sending out the same message and adopting a similar standard to deal with the prevention and spread of the virus. In-person What Bob and those with whom he is collaborating have to look at, in terms of when in-person will resume, are some of the key statistics and figures that are coming out. Essentially, they are looking for infection rates and death rates to fall and the vaccine levels to increase so that the most vulnerable in their society do not fall prey to the pandemic. When lockdown will finish Bob believes that in the UK, they will not get any indication of when they can open up again until the end of February. He assumes that lockdown will finish in March- possibly mid-March to late March or early April at the latest. Attitudes are changing People’s attitudes are changing because they feel restricted. So they are no longer as cautious as they were at the beginning of the pandemic. Bob’s passion for qualitative research Bob loves qualitative research because he wants to understand the emotional reasons for what drives people’s decision-making and causes them to behave in particular ways. Technology Bob feels very fortunate to run online focus groups or online interviews and test everything beforehand to eliminate any potential problems. Bob’s other business Early on, he decided to have several business areas that would complement each other. It means that if one sector is not doing too well, another will have the opportunity to make up for the shortfall. That is why he also owns another business, a telephone center B2B data collection agency, called Provision Research. And it has been doing very well because people are at home and easy to contact currently. Colour of Research Bob is the cofounder of Colour of Research, which started officially in June of 2020. It is a mentorship program where people of different ethnic groups can see others who look like them, who are either doing well at work or are on the way to doing well.
29 minutes | Feb 10, 2021
The Glow of Research with Tim Clover | Ep. 122
Sima Vasa is excited to welcome Tim Clover as her guest for today’s podcast. Tim is the CEO and Founder of Glow, based in Australia. Tim is originally from the UK and has been living in Australia for the last ten years. About Glow Glow is an online research platform, and people often compare it with SurveyMonkey on steroids. For Tim, it is about a lot more than just creating surveys. It is about the whole workflow for research. Some background As a kid, Tim was into engineering and finding out how things work. He started his first business after getting his engineering degree. He tried to use Excel macros to standardize processes and do things like process mapping. And he wanted to work out how to create channels into different markets. Although he earned enough to pay the rent and eat, he needed to gain more life and company experience, so he ended up working for a UK company, doing business simulation work. Not fitting the mold A friend called Tim and suggested that he apply for a role at the company he was working for because they needed someone with his skill set. Tim applied for and got the job. But he felt that did not quite fit that mold, which was generally very academic and did not involve much thinking outside the box. Assumptions Tim became interested in the sensitivities around many of the assumptions in the models that were being used in the company he was working for. He wanted to understand where the data was coming from that was feeding those assumptions. That pushed his career within that company into a role of story-telling, and into dealing with much more senior people in the organizations, to challenge them and help them form assumptions. From doing that, he became well-known within the organization. Australia In Australia, they were trying to do a similar thing. They wanted to build a team to analyze data and analytics from an operational perspective. So Tim decided to move there and help the company build a team in Melbourne. Retailers Tim did a lot of work with retailers. A big retailer called Coles was going through a major transformation at the time, and Tim’s team helped them pull together all their data together. The birth of Glow It took a long time to get their customer data together, and Tim started tinkering around to find ways to speed things up. Through his endeavors to find a better way to capture the information, Glow was born. Glow Glow, as a concept, was born because of a gap in the ability to reach consumers. It was a way that companies could tap into their customers more quickly and directly. Initially, Tim did not think of it as a survey platform. He just wanted to close the gap in hard-to-reach places and create experiences for the customers to engage. Good times and bad When starting a business, you have to weigh up the personal risk and realize that the path will be hard. If you’re not absolutely focused and completely determined, you’re going to find the ride pretty tough. Tim has had some fantastic times and some tough times over the last seven years. At first At first, Glow was all about getting data from hard to reach places and leveraging their tech to fund growth. In the background, they were investing more heavily in the ability to write the surveys themselves. Clients could log in After starting to write the surveys themselves, about three years ago, they released the first version of Glow where their clients could log in, look at their account, see the surveys running, and change some of the questions. Getting data Before, Tim was more of an insights person than a researcher. So when he got into research, it was about getting data. Online panel Three years ago, Schweppes asked Tim to do an online panel. He looked into it to find out how it might work, and it eventually took about two hours to get it working beautifully. The panel that Tim created takes people from building a survey to creating li...
23 minutes | Feb 2, 2021
Understanding Performance of New Product Launches with Ken Roshkoff | Ep. 121
I am happy to welcome Ken Roshkoff, the CEO of AMC Global, as my guest for today. Ken’s father started AMC Global Ken’s father started their company in 1979. He was a true researcher who loved working with data, doing analytics, and working with project staff. The competitive component Ken always loved the competitive component, so he spent much of his childhood focused on sports. He loved tournaments and competing, so he knew that he would eventually embark on a career with competitive elements. Getting involved with AMC When Ken initially got involved with AMC, his father started training him to crunch the numbers and become an expert in running projects. However, Ken quickly realized that was not going to be his thing. He felt that for him to be excited about what he was doing, he had to bring his clients into a space that would be more interesting to him. Giving the business another shot After less than a year, Ken left the business to go to grad school to get an MBA. Coming out of that, he decided to give the business another shot. He wanted to do things a little differently, however. A unique methodology Given his interest in CPG, he identified an opportunity in product launch tracking. In around 1991, he developed a unique positioning and created and patented a unique methodology that would help major CPG companies capture robust insights from the purchasers of the products in the market. That program became known as PFU (Purchaser Follow Up). Marketing the PFU program Ken then began actively marketing the PFU program to CPG companies. He created a niche. Then he leveraged it to form relationships with some of the largest CPG companies in the world. Working at all stages of the product life cycle AMC does work at all stages of the product life cycle. Where the program fits Ken’s program fits between pre-launch and post-launch work. The launch phase The issue for many of Ken’s clients is that they were not getting reliable repeat information until six months, or longer, into the launch. Ken's launch phase starts from day one of the launches and runs throughout the first three to six months. A robust way to capture insights He developed the PFU program as a robust way to capture insights, both qualitative and quantitative, from the very first purchasers of new products. Then they track those consumers to understand how well the products fit into their lifestyle if they are re-purchasing, and if not, why not. What the PFU program involves The PFU program works by placing an invitation in or on a package, in a slightly disguised way because it is not meant to be a purchase driver. Ken wants people to find the invitation when they get the product home and use it. When they open the product, they typically find an offer for a prepaid cash card. A built-in usage period They build in a usage period. So after the extended usage period, they send the purchasers a cash card with instructions for how to activate it by doing a phase-two survey. It is a bit like an in-market home-use test, and it is flexible. And it can get used globally. The beauty of the system As long as the product sells, they can provide their clients with top-line information at any point during the project. Trends related to launching new products Lately, Ken has been seeing a lot of companies shortening the pre-launch process. And that makes the launch-phase tracking that Ken does even more important. Historical product launch data base Ken uses his historical database to benchmark new products against other similar test products that they have tracked for other clients. Post-launch activities They also do a lot of the more traditional brand health tracking for their clients. Once the products are out there for a longer time, in addition to using more traditional panel-based systems, they also leverage the database they developed from using the PFU program durin...
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