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Assessing the opportunities for Research & Insights in an AI World

by | 02/11/2023

This week Rishi Sunak has gathered around 100 world leaders, tech bosses, academics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) researchers to the UK to discuss how best to maximise the benefits of this powerful technology while minimising the potential risks. AI movers and shakers like Elon Musk, Mustafa Suleyman, and Nick Clegg (?!) are in attendance sharing canapes with political luminaries such as Kamala Harris, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni.

Already we have been treated to a mix of pessimism and optimism, depending upon your political and business standpoint, but what about the important stuff I hear you say, Market Research!? Well, unsurprisingly that didn’t make the agenda this time (pffff!), so in the first of our series of ‘Eureka blog takeovers’ we hear from Nick Rich who delves into the potential benefits of AI and the opportunities that may arise for the world of Research and Insights. Nick is very much a real person and has worked in the Research industry for over 25 years leading the Global Insights & Analytics functions at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Carlsberg.


In today’s rapidly evolving and hypercompetitive business landscape, the importance of consumer and market insights cannot be overstated. By drawing on insights expertise and incorporating cutting-edge practices, organisations can enhance their ability to extract meaningful insights from complex data and transform them into strategic actions that drive business growth and success.

And yet, the synthesis of market research methodological expertise is a dynamic and ever-evolving process. The rapid pace of technological advancements has ushered in an era of unprecedented opportunities for data-driven decision-making. From quantitative research methodologies that harness the power of statistical analysis to qualitative approaches that delve into the realm of human emotions and motivations, Insights professionals must possess a comprehensive skill set to navigate the vast landscape of market research.

And these changes continue at pace with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new Generative Language and Visual Model-based technologies and platforms.

What is Generative AI?

The easiest way to describe what AI can do is to ask it yourself. This is how ChatGPT describes the main function of AI:

“Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that’s really good at creating things, like text, images, or even music, by learning from existing data. It’s like having a smart computer program that can come up with new ideas or content on its own, without human input.

For example, generative AI can write stories, generate realistic-looking pictures, or compose music, and it can do so in a way that seems quite human-like. It’s a powerful tool for creative tasks and can be used for things like content generation, art creation, or even helping with tasks that require a creative touch. Essentially, it’s all about teaching computers to be creative and produce new things based on what they’ve learned from the past”.

That all sounds pretty cool, right?

Opportunities for research & insights teams

If you are an Insights professional or anyone that works with data or intelligence of any kind, it might not be immediately obvious from the description above how these creative AI skills could support your work.

Dig a little deeper, however, and the opportunities begin to become apparent, If we assume these AI tools learn from current and historical information, then the tasks that Insights professionals conduct every day are clearly impacted. For example:

• Automating Repetitive Tasks: AI can take care of routine and time-consuming tasks, such as data analysis, sorting information, or running simulations. This frees up professionals to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their work.
• Data Processing: AI can quickly process and make sense of large datasets, finding patterns and insights that might be challenging or impossible for humans to discover on their own.
• Predictive Analysis: AI can make predictions based on historical data, helping professionals forecast trends, identify potential issues, and make informed decisions.
• Natural Language Processing: AI can read, understand, and summarize vast amounts of text, which is incredibly useful for researchers who need to review extensive literature or documents.
• Recommendations: AI systems can suggest relevant research papers, articles, or sources based on a user’s interests and previous searches, making the research process more efficient.
• Automation of Routine Reports: For professionals who generate reports regularly, AI can automate report generation, ensuring consistency and saving time.
• Enhanced Decision Support: AI can provide additional information and insights to support decision-making in complex scenarios, helping professionals make more informed choices.

In short, AI can streamline tasks, process data at scale, and provide valuable insights, making the work of research and analytical professionals more efficient and effective. This is going to mean Intelligence professionals are able to do:

1. Some tasks more efficiently – like summarising learnings or automating reporting
2. Some things better – like identifying themes or making predictions
3. Some new tasks we couldn’t do before – like instant product concepting & ad-testing

Don’t be afraid of an AI World

As AI tools continue to evolve, speculation has arisen regarding the potential redundancy of traditional Insights professionals. The advent of this new technology undoubtedly poses challenges for the Insights profession, necessitating a careful examination of its impact on our work and personal lives.
Nevertheless, historical evidence indicates that previous industrial revolutions and disruptions did not render human beings obsolete. Rather, they prompted change and adaptation, enabling us to harness the resourcefulness and indispensability of human insight. While AI will undoubtedly bring about transformations, the prospect of complete redundancy appears unlikely.

While AI’s long-term impact remains uncertain, it is essential for Insights professionals to foster a mindset of continuous learning and development for themselves and within their teams. Exploring the possibilities offered by AI and staying abreast of advancements will enable Insights professionals to adapt and seize opportunities presented by evolving technologies. Moreover, by nurturing a culture of flexibility and openness to change, organisations can position themselves advantageously for an uncertain, but exciting, future.


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