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Technovate 2003 - Internet Research and New Media

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The role of technology and innovation within the Marketing Research industry has changed considerably over the last decade. The Internet alone warranted several years of attention as it transformed research practices in parallel with its growth as a business tool and communication medium. As other concepts and applications build their own momentum, researchers should be prepared to add such diverse acronyms as CRM, WAP, iTV, and XML to their vernacular. Change is inevitable, but the issue becomes when and how we are to embrace it, if we do so at all.

As its name implies, ESOMAR's new Technovate conference is a forum to discuss the impact of technology and innovation on the marketing intelligence community. Research buyers and practitioners from across the globe have come together to share tangible insights into the latest developments in our industry. Their contributions explore new techniques for conducting research, including better ways to use existing methods and technology, as well as anticipating ways to incorporate new developments in wireless and new media applications.

However the context for Technovate is not based solely on the research applications of technology. We are also looking ahead to the strategic implications of technological innovation for client demand, and the subsequent impact on marketing intelligence services.

Technological innovation continues to grow in importance and scope, even after the Internet bubble burst so spectacularly, because of the tremendous implications for productivity. The Internet is a virtual backbone for organizational and technological integration that transcends online catalogs and e-commerce. As data moves freely across departments and information silos, there is a concurrent need for tighter communication and cooperation between research buyers, marketing strategists and implementers, and senior management. Research can no longer stand alone, distinct from other customer information, and remain relevant. Buyers and suppliers alike need to recognize opportunities to incorporate opinion and marketing research into overall corporate decision-making based on a 360-degree view of the customer.

Thus, integration is a cornerstone issue for Technovate. The opening session brings together a mixture of perspectives and case studies to address the convergence between MR and CRM. To view the two disciplines as competing entities is a mistake, since the value of each approach is marginalized when treated in isolation. The overriding goal for both groups should be integrating constituent information into corporate decision-making. The first five papers from Technovate provide an excellent basis for positioning research at the nexus of this critical issue.

In the current economic environment, researchers must also be prepared to enhance the value of their specific offerings. One approach is to adopt methods that lower costs, which has often been the rationale for implementing Web-based research. A superior alternative is to integrate online research into the broader research portfolio and concentrate on developing techniques that increase the efficiency of any given project. The second session of Technovate presents online sampling and integration alongside developments in choice modeling and segmentation as methods for leveraging innovation into higher value projects.

Adding value through new techniques may not be enough if the researcher does not have the proper tools or understanding to reach a specific population. Just as the Internet created a distinct audience at the desktop, wireless devices are creating a burgeoning segment of distributed consumers. The second day begins with a variety of papers that explore the unique issues surrounding wireless communication as both a research subject and medium.

Technology, however, is not solely a modality to be exploited for survey administration. Technological advancements also have significant implications for the monitoring, storing, and dissemination of research information. Three significant contributions introduce the reader to the evolving world of new media, and the impact that it has on key facets of the research industry.

Marketing Research firms have much to learn from their counterparts in CRM and consulting, whether it be the practice of quantifying the impact of their initiatives or developing real-time metrics from ongoing engagements. If researchers are to remain relevant amidst evolving marketing intelligence activities, we will need to adapt our project-oriented mindset and cost structures to a more flexible model. The closing panel discussion revisits the concept of convergence from the individual perspectives of consultants, researchers, client firms, and CRM professionals in an effort to bridge the gap between their respective disciplines and gain understanding of resulting opportunities.

In conclusion, Technovate is about embracing the future of new technology, new methods, and new perspectives. Each of our authors has done an excellent job exploring a particular facet of innovation, helping us take the initiative to guide marketing intelligence activities into the future. Please join me in thanking them for a job well done.

Andrew Elder
Programme Committee Chair

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