In July 2023, Phase 5’s Rachel Abugov attended the Quirk’s Event for Marketing Research and Insights Professionals in-person in New York City. This sold-out event attracted more than 1,500 attendees from across North America and beyond, with industry leaders delivering nearly 100 sessions based on this year’s theme, “Driving Your Research Forward”.
Upon her return, Rachel was kind enough to share some highlights from her experience, including the hottest topic, most relevant presentation, and how it felt to spend time in-person again with so many like-minded individuals. Read on for excerpts from our brief post-conference interview with Rachel.
Q: Welcome back, Rachel! My first question is, what was everyone talking about at the Quirk’s Event? Was any particular subject more prominently featured than the others? What were the hot topics?
A: With 5 conference tracks running simultaneously, there was a wealth of great presentations and thought leadership, and so it was impossible to see everything, of course. However I do think there was a standout winner in terms of hot topics, and that was AI. And while the prominence of AI in so many presentations and discussions was not surprising, there was certainly no shortage of new ideas, debate, and visions for the future that were exchanged.
Most sessions I attended featured AI as a component of research; in other words, these sessions explored how to take advantage of artificial intelligence to generate better insights. In many cases, the focus was on how to harness the potential of Generative AI, and the tools at our disposal that are capable of generating new content (including text, images, or other media) in response to prompts.
We discussed how all of this new content can foster new levels and different types of innovation, which is pretty exciting. Some of the sessions even included demonstrations of how ChatGPT had been successfully integrated into various products, as well as in-depth discussions about its capabilities across different tasks.
Q: How did your fellow attendees respond to the prominence of AI as a conference topic? What sorts of conversations did you have with your peers between sessions?
A: Some of the folks I spoke to were certainly beginning to tire of so much AI discussion. It really was inescapable and somewhat overpowering of other topics. However given its potential to evolve so quickly and make such a big impact, it’s understandable why so many presenters wanted to make sure they addressed it, and I’m very happy they did!
While we heard lots about how AI can be leveraged to help us accomplish some amazing things in research, many of the follow up or side conversations revolved around the human aspect that can’t be taken out of research. For example, a positive respondent experience is key to success, and it’s important to understand where actual human interaction is needed, perhaps to welcome, explain, set at ease, connect, or provide comfortable transitions from one step to the next. It will be different for every study.
I attended a presentation by Microsoft entitled, “ChatGPT Integration and the Future of Qualitative Insights”, and one of the key takeaways was that AI tools are fantastic (effective, efficient) for the manual work (e.g. writing a first draft of a survey), giving researchers more time to strategize and bring the data to life. I tend to agree with that presenter, who specifically said, “AI is a co-pilot for hands work, so we can do head work and heart work.”
Q: Were there any other presentations that really resonated with you?
A: The most relevant presentation I think I attended was by investment management company, Vanguard. It was called “Like Peanut Butter and Jelly, MR and UXR Are Better Together”, which is a concept that we at Phase 5 wholeheartedly support.
The presenters shared how the team at Vanguard has broken down silos to “unite the worlds” of market research and UX. From their experience, key benefits include:
- deeper conversations about the research that lead to conducting better research
- more collaboration and better questions asked along the way
- more possibilities unlocked vs. what could be conceived alone
- a different (better) way of working
- everyone on the team is naturally pushed to become a better researcher.
Phase 5 has a similar approach, in particular with our UX and CX practice areas working closely together to help our clients with holistic experience management.
Q: One last question – It’s not unusual now for conferences to be virtual, or offer a virtual option. What was it like to participate in this huge industry event in-person?
A: It’s wonderful to be surrounded by 1,500 others who share a passion for market research. I was thrilled to spend time with my Research Community!
Thank you Rachel, for your time and your insights!
Reader, if you'd like to learn more about Rachel's experience or talk to us further about any of the topics above, please don't hesitate to reach out. We'd love to help you and your organization on your journey to customer-centricity.