An issue across every sector, from market research to employee engagement and government relations, is how to truly understand large groups of people across political, geographical, and cultural divides and amplify their collective voice. This problem is intensified when challenging issues arise and sending out a survey doesn’t provide the opportunity to discover what you don’t know to ask. On the other hand, focus groups don’t represent enough people to justify action.
We’ve come a long way in learning how to better understand massive groups of people utilizing artificial intelligence (AI). This piece outlines key advantages of AI in market research resulting from my work with a number of organizations facing the challenge of transitioning from traditional market research to modern representative intelligence; that is intelligence capable of engaging, understanding and authentically representing massive groups of stakeholders (customer, employees, citizens, etc.).
AI helps direct you to hidden truths much faster
In the city of Cornwall, England, members of the local community are battling an issue of loneliness. More than half of their residents over 75 will go more than a month at a time without speaking to a friend. So the Cornwall Council launched a program to find a solution and understand how its citizens interact with one another. They partnered with Deloitte to host a live online conversation focused on thought provoking open-ended questions and used artificial intelligence to collect active data from 200 participants, in real-time. As a result, they were able to learn, in just minutes, how local communities can best intervene, what local programs are already making a difference, and how they can come together to bring about positive change. The voices of Cornwall were heard and understood, ultimately empowering the community to improve social care throughout Cornwall.
People are more than data points
It’s important we address why facilitating open-ended questions that provide active data are important to accurately understand a group of people. Active data is the type of data you get from a person when you actively engage them, talk to them, and get to know what’s on their mind. Thus, active data gives you a clear insight into how someone thinks. In other words, passive data gives the “what” while active data gives the “why.” In addition, when you only observe behaviors passively, you paint a picture about someone as they currently behave – and you never understand their motivations, inspirations, and who they’re striving to become. People are more than data points – it’s crucial to engage with people and collect more than yes or no answers. Artificial intelligence helps you better segment, analyze, and understand this free-form, qualitative data on a deeper level with the right tools.
AI combines quantitative and qualitative research
Artificial intelligence is re-writing the way we derive insights. It does the most important part of cleansing, consolidating, and, most importantly, analyzing data for in-depth analysis. AI market research tools help encode large quantities of complex qualitative data, and look at them en masse in order to determine statistical significance. Before AI, your focus group of 10 people gave you plenty of qualitative info about their feelings about something, but there was no way of knowing if this truly represented your audience. Additionally, your quantitative survey told you that there was a feeling towards a product/event/issue but not why. In combining these two, technology that utilizes AI can help researchers understand their audience on a much deeper level that has a higher likelihood of representing the population they’re looking at.
The market advantage of AI
An AI-centric world is one that is evolving at a rapid pace. Business leaders should prepare for it by implementing business processes and employee cultures that are designed to thrive in a state of continuous evolution. Winners will be those who can understand customers and react to that understanding the fastest, and early adopters of tools and paradigms that enable this will realize a decisive market advantage.
This article first appeared in www.smartbrief.com
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