Low Growth – no thanks

June 13, 2011 at 2:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last month was the reporting period for Australian banks. The Big Four (Commonwealth, National, ANZ and Westpac) reported strong results but one of the headlines that struck me was prompted by the ANZ CEO Mike Smith advising the banking sector that they must prepare for a paradigm shift, arguing that banks need to reinvent themselves for a new ‘low growth’ environment, where margins are tightening, and financial institutions need to learn to use capital more effectively and seek out alternative sources of income.

It occurred to me that, like banking, market and social research is also in the midst of a paradigm shift but I have not resigned myself to a low growth business environment for our profession. This is because I think we can adapt well to change and embrace new business opportunities. It is also about making research relevant and accessible to a larger audience in business, potentially via mobile and other new forms of information collection. Will it be more relevant to stakeholders in consumer insight or marketing departments or new sectors such as property or retail design? Can new methods allow the profession to seek out access to new budgets?

This month’s Research News is a good example of the transformation going on now in terms of mobile research and using geographic data fused with observational information and more conventional data collection methods: http://bit.ly/jKYfH3

Can these new methods increase our reach? Can they lead to high growth in our profession as market and social research extends beyond current methods to collect information? Time will tell, but it is up to all of us to challenge the status quo.

We need to refine our offer so we can survive in a business world where there is less appetite for risk and often fewer financial resources available, more do-it-yourself (DIY) options, more mobile and location-based tools (GPS), more demand for simplicity and speed from users and buyers and more insight from non-research activities – customer relationship management (CRM), word-of-mouth (WOM), social media monitoring (SMM) and analytics.

Bringing this together, using technology and providing expert analysis may be where the future lies, but within our profession there are some fine lines that need to be drawn in the short to mid term including the line we must draw as professionals between research and telemarketing.

This is not to say that we should operate in a bubble. It’s critically important that we develop strong alliances with other professionals who advise business decision makers. This is why this year’s national AMSRS conference features keynote speakers from academia, law enforcement and the media. If you are interested in the AMSRS National Conference in Sydney this September check out the highlights here http://bit.ly/jdhLYu and introducing the keynote speakers here  http://bit.ly/kjkrxl

The conference will build on the successes of the previous two years so please come along to learn, share and join in the fight against a low growth future http://bit.ly/jcSFJ1 !

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