AI (ChatGPT, et al) is set to disrupt the Market Research Industry.
A recent joint academic study (Princeton, Penn & NYU) with the sexy title “Occupational Heterogeneity in Exposure to Generative AI” listed MR in the top 10% of industries threatened by AI (75th out of 750). Looking for more causes for concern, On Monday May 8th, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company will pause hiring for roles that could be replaced by AI in the coming years.
OK, let’s take a step back. We could say AI has the potential of being as disruptive to MR as the internet was 20+ years ago. Yes, but all the internet did was move traditional quant research online. And qual didn’t move online until Covid hit in 2020. This time, it’s different. AI is coming for your job.
On the horizon, Microsoft 365 Copilot will offer integrated AI services across its current suite of MS tools. Case in point, Copilot can turn bullet points on a slide into a written paragraph or vice versa.
In the coming years, all phases of the research process (identifying the business question, choosing the proper methodology, executing the field, moderating the discussion, assembling results, report writing/presentation deck), could be performed by AI. Not to mention AI could seamlessly integrate its own primary research with all existing secondary research. It begs the question, what do we have to offer that AI can’t?
We need to embrace AI as a powerful new tool to turbocharge our ability to gather and deliver valuable insights. Research support roles can be greatly amplified if the bulk of grunt work is replaced by AI. A project director could migrate 80% of their current workload to AI and use their newfound time to handle more business, thus greatly increasing their value.
Research firms need to integrate AI into their workflow models. Computer science grads, digital natives of AI, are going to be a hot hire for all industries potentially facing disruption. The perfect mix of AI integrators and research talent will be required to stay relevant.
AI will soon be able to provide all rote aspects of the research function. For research firms to stay relevant, we need to focus on the human touch (e.g., client empathy) to keep one step ahead of the AI bear.
Research firms, Insight Orgs (e.g., ESOMAR, The Insights Association), MR grad schools need to offer AI (computer science) training ASAP.
Disruption, like nature, is amoral. The advantage belongs to the nimble who quickly integrate AI into their tool chest to become more valuable. Training is the key! This solace is echoed by the professors who conducted the study on threatened industries:
“Workers will learn the digital skills that are needed to take advantage of these new tools, which may allow workers to retain their existing jobs, even if the nature of the jobs themselves change as a result of the new technology,”