On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, RTi held its second annual Client Symposium in NYC. Thirteen senior level corporate research clients met with RTi leadership and with Simon Chadwick and Ian Lewis of Cambiar Consulting to learn, discuss, and share “Practical Lessons for Navigating Change”. The information presented was interesting; the discussion it prompted around the table was fascinating. Following are some highlights and my key takeaways:

Overall, corporate Market Researchers are being urged to become true “internal consultants with a point of view to share”. The historical role of MR as an “objective third party bystander” is no longer enough. While Market Researchers should still be objective and should still be guided by fact and data, the role and expectations continue to expand:

  • One and not done: Researchers need to synthesize data from multiple sources (research and otherwise) in developing fully informed and supportable recommendations. A single research study should not be analyzed in a vacuum.
  • Draw connections: Researchers are in a unique position to take a big picture view and draw connections between multiple data points/data sources and, as a consultant, must do so as a matter of course.
  • Share ownership: Researchers must improve facilitation skills so that they can lead a group discussion to the desired outcome for broad ownership of decisions.
  • Develop listening skills: Consumer listening via social media is here to stay. But, the technology allowing easy and accurate analysis of the enormous amount of text data is lacking. As the technology improves (and it surely will over time), researchers must be prepared to develop skills in the area of social listening and interpretation.

And perhaps most importantly, researchers must learn how to be strong influencers; not just data presenters. The successful corporate MR leader must be able to “sell” their informed and well-reasoned recommendations to others in the organization.

It was a great morning of inspiration, aspiration, and a yes, a little perspiration. As one attendee put it, “while all of this might mean more work, it also means more opportunity for a more meaningful and lasting role within our respective companies.” And isn’t that what it’s all about?

– David Rothstein, CEO