he skills of research have never been in greater demand but the people called on, and the methods used, to generate insight are changing rapidly. Here we share five convictions that we at Sense Worldwide believe will be key to shaping the way research is done in forward thinking businesses around the world in the coming years.

1. Research will be a skill not a silo

Siloed research functions are increasingly a thing of the past and in their place are emerging interdisciplinary teams. Research will grow as a core competency for individuals working in engineering, marketing, product design and even finance and HR. For organisations around the world, insight will be integrated into day-to-day operations throughout the business. Those people who can bring data to life and convey its meaning and implications to their business will be valuable team members.

2. Empathy is the order of the day

With a rapidly changing external environment, businesses are acutely aware that they operate in an uncertain world. Creating feedback loops to bring empathy for the customer’s perspective into the organisation is critical to remaining relevant in the market. Customer-centricity has already taken root in many businesses and will only become more important as leaders are exposed to the full potential of deep consumer input and collaboration to drive insight, innovation and strategy.

3. Effective communicators will be highly prized

Insight professionals are developing their skill set to help design user-centered experiences and they are expanding their lexicon to communicate effortlessly with colleagues in teams throughout their businesses. As interdisciplinary teams become the norm, those professionals with complementary skills and the ability to adapt how they communicate will be the ones rising to positions of leadership in the near future.

4. New technologies will increase the amount of research being done

Research without context is no good to anyone. New technologies are powering increasingly sophisticated means of data gathering, analysis and interpretation. In particular, automation, passive observation sensors and AI applied to large datasets present opportunities to conduct a lot more research without adding any burden to participants. In fact, if used to their full potential, we believe that new technologies will increase the amount of research done while actually reducing the burden on participants.

5. Lean research will become mainstream

Reflecting the emergence of lean as the dominant philosophy for forward thinking businesses and individuals, lean work practices will further embed in organisational culture. An explicitly experimental mindset; a commitment learn, refine, build and optimise; and the ability to make decisions with speed are all behaviours that will be embraced by research professionals. This will enable businesses to adapt to a rapidly changing external environment, to continually respond to and pre-empt the needs of their customers and to avoid organisational bureaucracy to take advantage of all the opportunities that come their way.

It’s been said a number of times that “research is dead”. Far from it, research is alive and well and in great demand. Businesses crave insight into their customers; they must develop the products and services that customers truly need; and they must communicate in a way that always resonates with their audience. Great research will be integral to how businesses do all of this in order to create and retain their competitive advantage.

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