Smarter. Faster. Further: DIY Research Conference

DIY conference recap

There’s no escaping the discussion around data democratization and DIY research that has emerged over the past five or so years. In my view, we’ve reached critical mass through a confluence of several factors that now make this a viable conversation.

The better, faster, cheaper mantra that emerged out of the 2008 recession is a driving force. At the same time, the rapid maturation of research technology has opened the doors. Research technology is widely available for all manner of approaches and is no longer the domain of specialist programmers and tenacious individuals willing to navigate clunky UX. Finally, there’s growing recognition that customer understanding is a necessity as opposed to a nice to have.

Given all this, it’s not surprising to see the emergence of a conference solely dedicated to DIY. In its second year, the recent DIY Conference, which I was honored to chair, offered an interesting range of presentations that illustrated both the challenges facing Customer Insights (CI) together with the adaptive, flexible thinking being used by researchers and marketers alike to provide business-ready insights.

Customer centricity was the central thread running through all presentations. There’s no question that understanding who your customers are, their thoughts and feelings, is essential to deliver business results. While there were nuances on how this is applied from company to company, the basic premise came through loud and clear.

Beyond this, three sub-themes emerged, all of which aligned with the conference theme of ‘Smarter. Faster. Further’:

Smarter: Resource-Savvy

As you’d expect, several presentations highlighted how to be creative when conducting DIY research and limit hard costs. However, we saw that resource savviness is also about drawing upon external expertise and assistance when it makes sense. This help comes from agency and technology partners alike.

Faster: Iterative

Time and again, presenters talked about drawing upon existing research as a starting point for the question at hand and then build upon this prior knowledge to gain answers quickly and effectively.

Further: Collaborators. Educators. Storytellers.

Insights departments, no matter how small or how they are structured, are taking their respective companies further in a variety of ways. They may be relatively small steps right now, but as the proverb says, you move the mountain by removing one stone at a time. Collaboration, education, storytelling all featured throughout the conference. Intra- and cross-team collaboration is delivering smarter results more quickly. Small insight teams are educating other departments to undertake their just-in-time research. Finally, creative, story-driven research findings provide impact to stakeholders, meaning the insights go further.

The two days provided a useful barometer as to where we are. In many ways, it’s clear we are in the early days of DIY research. At the same time, it’s heartening to see what is already being done to help businesses understand their customers. And that’s what it’s all about. So buckle up, and let’s continue this fun ride into 2020.

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