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Future of Research and Insight: 2021

January 12, 2022

View the full report as a PDF

Research analysts: Nepunnee Birondo, Matt Readman, Eileen Zar

Summary of findings 

Prior to all Rosenfeld Media conferences, it’s customary that each conference curation team undertakes research to help them understand the topics and debates which are top of mind for the communities they serve. This research helps drive the agenda for Rosenfeld Media’s monthly community calls and newsletters, and ultimately, the annual conference’s program. In the case of the Advancing Research community, the curation team ran a series of focus groups (32 participants) and a light touch survey (196 respondents) to learn what was on the minds of research and insight community members.

We set out to answer two core questions in the course of our research:

  1. How does the insight community feel about the current state of the industry as we start to emerge from the pandemic?
  2. What are the most pressing opportunities to advance the research and insight field over the coming year?

Overall, our research suggests that those working in the research and insight fields feel cautiously optimistic about the state of the industry as we start moving out of the pandemic. Generally, respondents feel that:

  1. The insight function is viewed as more valuable by those it serves and is driving greater strategic impact;
  2. More spaces are opening up to foster a sense of community and knowledge sharing;
  3. The community recognizes the need for advancements in tooling, which makes it easier to harness better data for analysis. 

Our research also highlighted a number of areas of dissatisfaction with the current state of the industry. These included:

  1. The need to continually build an understanding of the strategic importance of insight;
  2. The need to ensure higher and more consistent standards in research education and career development; and
  3. The need to ensure that simplified software solutions are used effectively to ensure quality insights are generated at all times.

Many of our respondents expressed the perennial challenge of pushing forward the strategic influence and positioning of research in our industries. Our research also highlighted an increasing interest in how different parts of the insight industry—user research, market research and data science—can build bridges and tell more holistic narratives about customers. We also heard a lot from those we spoke with about the rising imperative to ensure that our own practices meet the highest levels of inclusivity by default. 

We also saw some interesting conversations spark throughout the course of the research, centered around a range of topics: from democratization and the broadening of insight spaces to the call for the call for industry standards to help us reach full maturity as a discipline.

As curators, we found a huge amount of richness across the themes which emerged from this study, and are looking forward to helping facilitate conversations, learning, and debate across these topics throughout our content programming and content for the Advancing Research community as we move into 2022. 

We’d like to offer our thanks to YOU, the Advancing Research community, and to everyone who spent time sharing their thoughts with us. We also extend special thanks to our research analysts—Nepunnee Birondo, Matt Readman, and Eileen Zar—who collated this report and helped us make sense of the data. 

Warm wishes

Jamika Burge, Chris Geisonand Jem Ahmed

Rosenfeld Media’s Advancing Research Curators