Which market research tasks are likely to be taken over by AI?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers
Nine in 10 market research decision-makers believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will have a significant impact on the industry within five years, but most don’t know what that impact will look like, according to a report from Qualtrics.
On the one hand, more respondents feel that AI will reduce (35 percent) the number of market research jobs than create more (26 percent). On the other hand, they are more likely to believe the market research industry will expand (52 percent) than contract (11 percent) as a result of AI. Perhaps market researchers feel that the number of jobs will decline, but that projects will carry a higher price.
They certainly seem to think that AI has the potential to increase the quality of market research: three-quarters of the 250 market research decision-makers surveyed believe that the data produced through AI will be more accurate than it is today.
The tasks that AI was seen as most likely to take over:
- Determining sample sizes (72 percent believing within 5 years; 77 percent within 10 years);
- Reading open-ended responses (62 percent and 72 percent, respectfully);
- Running surveys (55 percent and 70 percent, respectively);
- Statistical analysis (48 percent and 63 percent, respectively); and
- Finding insights in feedback data (35 percent and 55 percent, respectively).
Respondents estimate that close to one-quarter of surveys (currently in text) could be spoken to a digital assistant within five years. There is some skepticism as to their near-term quality, though: only one-third feel they will be a better experience for respondents than typed surveys, and just one-quarter feel they’ll yield higher data quality.
On the upside, fully 93 percent believe AI is an opportunity for the market-research industry as opposed to a threat (7 percent).
The top five technologies expected to have the most impact on market research were:
- Advanced data analysis (95 percent);
- Automated stats analysis (94 percent);
- Natural language processing (73 percent);
- Text analysis (71 percent); and
- Internet of Things (54 percent).Which Market Research Tasks Are Likely to Be Taken Over by AI? – MarketingCharts
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which tasks and activities are likely to be “outsourced” to machine learning in the coming years? What do you see as the greatest benefits and risks that AI brings to market research?
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10 Comments on "Which market research tasks are likely to be taken over by AI?"
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Managing Partner, Advanced Simulations
Natural language processing is the most obvious benefit of AI – the ability to understand what shoppers say in text messages, social media, open-ended survey responses, etc., is a great leap forward. It’s not as likely to kill jobs — but it may change the jobs that are needed. The risk is that people will believe what the system says and not check it/curate it/validate it. AI is just a program and is capable of producing the wrong answer.
Strategy Architect – Digital Place-based Media
Data comparison and results visualization will certainty be at the top of of the list. These require the raw compute power that underpins AI and brings high value regardless of sample size. AI is a substantial investment and runs the risk of delivering low ROI or benefits that could have been realized using different approaches. Voice of the customer programs still have a strong hold on the executive suite, so natural language analysis should expect a high level of attention.
President, The Treistman Group LLC
It’s easy to see how AI has already been applied to text interaction. The source data is massive, residing not in one-to-one conversations but billions of social media posts, reviews, and other online comments.
Quantitative phone research is another frontier. At first, artificial intelligence may run along side manual research gathering as machines are “trained” to do quantitative research. Customer service presents an illustrative model. Machine learning has automated routine customer support activities so that an increasing number of responses are handled by AI and a decreasing number of exceptions are escalated to a human representative. The same process can be used to automate quant phone surveys.
Over time, machines may revolutionize qualitative market research as well. Programmed branch questions will give way to dynamic questions assembled on the fly as machines hear “new“ responses and seek to probe further.
All of this frees up the researcher for higher level tasks around synthesizing rather than gathering results.
Chief Data Officer, CaringBridge
Repetitive tasks that are currently done by researchers are the easiest things to automate with AI. I think that will include survey design, fielding and analysis, particularly sentiment analysis and language processing.
The key parts of research that should never be replaced include:
Benefits include reducing time for a research project and therefore reducing cost. The risk is that researchers and marketers begin to rely on AI to answer questions that require some level of intuition and subtlety to find the real “nugget.”
Founder, CEO, Black Monk Consulting
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
Natural language processing, sentiment interpretation and emerging trend identification are areas where AI can immediately deliver value to marketers.
This statement is concerning: “three-quarters of the 250 market research decision-makers surveyed believe that the data produced through AI will be more accurate than it is today.”
There is no evidence, only promises, at this point to suggest that AI will make anything more accurate. My AI, in fact, is simply Big Data with a new name.
Is this an example of researchers with a “digital bias”? A inherent assumption that if it’s AI it must be better?
The technology we call AI today will do some good things. But like other tech trends in the past, it’s not truly AI and it is overhyped. Especially for its ability to interact with humans or pull the human out of data sets.
Global Retail & CPG Sales Strategist, IBM
Retail Tech Marketing Strategist | B2B Expert Storytelling™ Guru | President, VSN Media LLC
AI has great potential for tracking behaviors en masse and mining the data flows for insights. Social sentiment analysis comes to mind. So would conversational commerce interactions. Machine learning is already a foundation for price optimization systems — aren’t they really a form of behavioral research?
For survey research, there remains a need for a qualified professional to design the hypotheses, the target sample, and the questions. An AI could be useful for faster data analysis, but interpretation of results requires a human touch, at least so far.
Consider that data analyses — including measures of validity and error — used to require laborious manual calculations. Today, even experts use time-saving analytics software. If AI-based tools can help reduce human time and effort, it’s possible that one outcome may be more research conducted on more questions of managerial interest.
Overall, I think that’s a bullish picture for the market research profession.