AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. One way we see AI around us is in the myriad of technological devices entering our world almost daily. From continually advancing smartphones to smart cars; from navigation to banking and finance, AI is a part of our current lives and quickly becoming an in-depth part of our future. For example, you may be familiar with machines that can be taught via complicated algorithms to perform specific tasks such as experimental 4-wheeled wagon-like prototypes with mounted cameras designed to deliver pizzas – and eventually other packages. On a more critical level, the healthcare industry is implementing AI-powered machines for disease detection, diagnosis, treatment, and management processes. Your nightly news regularly features driverless cars, especially when something goes wrong.
Market Researchers and AI
Market researchers also see the impact of AI technology evolving in the 21st Century. It can be both a challenge to their day-to-day jobs as they currently know them, as well as welcome assurance of job security for the foreseeable future. Currently, some industry experts cite two ways AI helps market researches efficiently sort through massive amounts of data.
AI can process and sort open-ended data in minutes. This data is often from interviews and is characteristic of large, diverse, unorganized data sets. Previously, it would have usually taken a market researcher hours, if not days, to sort and comprehend the open-ended information. As AI sorts through endless data, market researchers have more time to turn the data into actionable initiatives.
AI can also help with community panel management to maintain a robust and active membership. AI discovers through a diverse array of data pulled from different sources and learns when community members are not participating as much as they once did. Login information, page views, the time between logins all contribute to a member profile that can show a disengagement process underway.
What AI cannot do after discovering this information, is to figure out a way to connect to and re-engage community members. It is still best handled by a human community liaison or manager.
Many market researchers do not want to do data scrubbing or program survey logic. Many see AI as the perfect automated tool for this tedious task, while they get on with solving the problems which the data brings to light. Further, while AI focuses on the routine tasks such as data cleaning, programming surveys and localizing questions for different countries, giving up these chores allows market researchers to focus on to turning research data into actions.
AI and Professional Tasks
As automation once took over many jobs in the blue-collar industries of a century ago forcing workers of a bygone era to learn new skills, many now ask, “Is AI is coming after today’s knowledge workers”? According to industry research, the answer is “Yes.”
The following statistics give some credence to that sentiment.
- The Associated Press uses AI technology in generating 3,000 stories about U.S. corporate earnings per quarter
- In 2017, JP Morgan used software to replace 360,000 hours of human document review
The jury is still debating the impact of AI on the Market Research industry and the effect it will have for individual market researchers.
- In a recent survey, 26% said AI would create more market research jobs
- Meanwhile, 35% believe AI will reduce the number of available jobs
- The rest of the market research industry decision-makers are undecided
Improving Soft Skills
As the impact and evolution of AI permeate the market research industry; a sure hedge against preparing for the unexpected, according to industry experts, is to beef up soft skills. Superior written and oral communication skills are considered, by many, the best way to get ready for the industry advances brought on by AI. Besides good written and verbal communication skills other critical soft skills include:
- Being a good coach
- Communicating and listening well
- Ability to be insightful
- Maintaining good empathy
Besides beefing up soft skills, consider learning new educational skills that your current employer may offer. Or, familiarizing yourself with skills that you see as interesting or beneficial to your career are also good choices. As the market research industry and AI evolve, it is always a good idea to stay abreast of the changing landscape. Additionally, creating a portfolio of work you have done for clients and highlighting its impact is also necessary for successfully navigating industry changes.
As with all industry-wide changes, market researchers must prepare. From virtual market research and accurate forecasting to chatbots and virtual moderators, not to mention conducting secondary research AI is likely to play a role in all or most of it. With that in mind, many in the industry are considering their options.
Industry experts suggest some market researchers are learning new skills like checking and interpreting AI-gathered information; while others are considering more drastic career moves. Currently, popular choices range from teaching to marketing to computer programming.
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