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In an increasingly competitive market, effective knowledge research and knowledge management have a pivotal role in driving business innovation. In the context of digital transformation, AI technology is reshaping the art of what’s possible around access and the use of insights in organizations. It’s transforming how and where people work with insights — and AI adoption is only going to grow, as our recent AI innovation industry survey shows. So, what are the key 2024 market insights trends?

We asked four market insights leaders to identify pressing challenges and exciting opportunities insights professionals have faced throughout 2023 — and trace the next steps for the emerging trends that will shape 2024. Get their key learnings, tips, and industry predictions below, and keep these in mind as you craft or refine a knowledge management strategy for your organization in the coming year, and beyond.

Matthew Blacknell, Global DComm Customer & Shopper Insights at Mars

Matthew Blacknell is an experienced insights specialist who builds strategies for driving the value of the insight function and is always looking for new ways to drive impact.

Currently heading up Global DComm Customer & Shopper Insights at Mars, has proven expertise in creating and deploying brand and market strategy, as well as developing advertising and innovation across companies like Hall & Partners, and Research International.

Matthew Blacknell, Global DComm Customer & Shopper Insights at Mars

Emerging trends: We have already seen many exciting developments from various agencies and internal analytics teams. I predict that 2024 is the year when these will cross over into the client side and become business as usual. This will feel like an expansion to the insights team, with increased ROI for existing insights, and stakeholders able to efficiently run their analyses on existing knowledge.

As an Insights professional, the most exciting aspect is the ability to discover new insights and a deeper level of detail that we might have previously missed. While we have traditionally used our brains and experience to identify insights, AI provides an additional approach, offering an expert perspective in a super-fast timeframe. This allows us to develop more holistic insights and find new routes to deploy insights across our enterprise.”

Matthew Blacknell on emerging insights trends

Year in review and learnings: From a digital standpoint, we constantly update insights to mirror evolving consumer and shopper behavior. As a global business, we prioritize integrating human insights into decision-making, striking a balance between establishing global best practices and providing locally relevant recommendations.

Using AI in the initial phase of a global project has proven invaluable, offering intriguing insights that challenged our thinking and influenced subsequent research phases. After the main research study, we discovered additional value and reviewed a Qual community using AI technology. This process unearthed further insights, helping to land new opportunities with our retailers.”

Matthew Blacknell on key 2023 learnings

Reflecting on this, I wish AI had been better embedded throughout the research process, and in 2024 I’ll be ensuring this will be the case for all projects. We’re also rethinking how we conduct shopper research, reviewing the extraction of data from behavioral studies rather than relying solely on PowerPoint presentation slides to do all the work.

Impact and use of AI in your organization: Within the traditional insights community, I view the initial phase as achieving greater efficiency and automation of low-value-added activities. If done well, this will free up time to focus on identifying future growth opportunities.

Our data and analytics teams are already proficient in mastering these tools and identifying new, high-quality insights that we previously would not have considered. I look forward to 2024 as the year when this integration comes together, fostering a closer relationship and deeper understanding between job roles.

Luisa Gibbons, Head of Product at MMR Research

As the Head of Product at MMR Research, Luisa is responsible for connecting clients’ dynamic needs with world-class solutions. She links Nova (MMR’s tech innovation hub), data sciences teams, and researchers to prioritize and accelerate tools that will truly make a difference.

Luisa plays a vital role in assisting food, drink, personal, and household care companies in ‘fighting the ordinary’ with products that genuinely resonate with their consumers. With an eye on the future, Luisa actively contributes to future-proofing the organization, as reflected in her role on the Strategic Leadership Team at MMR.

Luisa Gibbons, Head of Product at MMR Research

Emerging trends:  The democratization of information and empowerment of faster decisions have to be a good thing — helping us unlock insights at pace and harness historical datasets far more impactfully. How we think about data collection and data governance also must change as a result.  However, there is a concern that an over-reliance on AI could potentially impede creativity, hinder consumer closeness, and limit the development of meaningfully differentiated opportunities. But this is not a flaw in the technology itself! The power comes from interacting with Large Language Models (LLMs), treating the process as an additive journey, rather than positioning AI as a singular database or the source of all knowledge.

In fact, I’m excited by the initiatives we have underway at MMR to harness Generative AI’s ability to answer questions and fuel creativity. By integrating our experience in design, application, and inputs, we aim to ensure that outputs not only inform but actively drive better decision-making. Particularly in Sensory Data, we are now able to rapidly access expert sensory understanding and integrate it seamlessly with consumer research for enhanced diagnostic insights and direction — a true collision of human expertise and experience supercharged by Gen AI.

The adage made famous by Marvel’s Spiderman comics and films, “With great power comes great responsibility” holds true today for the AI landscape, where we will (and should) see a sustained emphasis on enhancing safety and security for both inputs and outputs. I advocate for a tiered system, providing easy access to tools for exploratory understanding and context while maintaining secure access to tools for exploratory understanding and context; as well as models with ringfenced data for sensitive applications. It is about striking just the right balance, and empowering users while upholding the integrity and traceability of input quality.”

Luisa Gibbons on emerging insights trends

I foresee a continued trend of clients bringing these capabilities in-house to increase control. So, with MMR being an agency partner, our focus must be on seamlessly collaborating with these systems – and on crafting solutions that leverage this technology, employing a dual approach of strategic partnerships and in-house development. Rather than generic packaging of widely available AI models, our goal is to craft tailored solutions that precisely address specific challenges in response to our clients’ evolving needs — baked in with our MMR experience, and on “unlocking our unique superpowers” if I stick to the Marvel theme!

Year in review and learnings: It’s safe to say that 2023 has been a whirlwind! We began the year with the anticipation that the new Open AI developments would be a game-changer for us as an agency, the industry as a whole, and each of us individually. Navigating the evolving landscape of Gen AI demands a strategic approach. The expertise and guidance from our in-house tech innovation team, Nova, along with our data scientists, have played and continue to play a pivotal role. To prevent the daily influx of new Gen AI capabilities, platforms, and interfaces from becoming a distraction, we established a multi-disciplinary steering group, including IT Compliance. This group helped us sift through the plethora of new solutions, identifying those deemed ‘safe’ to benefit from and add value. Having this process firmly in place and continuing to build expertise across our business will remain crucial as we transition into 2024.

Our experience over the past year has reinforced our understanding that AI, in itself, is not a solution. Through extensive experimentation, we have gained a strong appreciation for where AI augments human expertise, where it can replace human efforts, and, most importantly, what this looks like across both our typical project cycle and the CPG innovation process overall.”

Luisa Gibbons on 2023 learnings

Balancing the development of solutions that drive efficiency with the need for compelling client-facing applications is a challenge. However, a strategic solution lies in adopting a joined-up and modular approach. This allows us to leverage each build for a range of applications. For example, models created to query our internal knowledge management can be employed with a different interface to query project data for our clients. This interconnected and modular strategy ensures that our technological advancements not only enhance our internal processes but also translate into impactful, client-centric applications, reinforcing our commitment to delivering value where it matters most.

Impact and use of AI in your organization: From a day-to-day perspective, Gen AI is a potential equalizer – as an agency we need to benefit from the efficiencies it can bring or fail to thrive! With ambitious targets to continue our year-on-year growth, embracing new technology (including but not exclusively) Gen AI, becomes not just beneficial, but imperative. It plays an essential role in the delivery of insights to our clients more quickly (e.g. speeding up the analysis and summarization of qualitative transcripts) and more impactfully (e.g. how we bring these insights to life, connect clients with their consumers more powerfully, and rapidly visualize the findings). 

However, the exciting bit does come from how we use AI to drive differentiation and gain competitive advantage. For us, that’s in our product testing and development and sensory heartland. We are dedicated to crafting more natural and engaging ways to interact with consumers and elicit deeper (and more actionable) insight into how brands can meaningfully connect with them. Our approach involves a synergy between technology and our extensive category expertise and data, resulting in targeted solutions. We are committed to actively developing, piloting, and pressure testing these solutions with future-minded clients.

In driving AI-fueled innovation within our business, we therefore adopt a dual strategy. Firstly, we keenly identify where AI can change our existing strategic roadmap. Our longstanding commitment to innovation and continuous evolution ensures that integrating Generative AI is a purposeful and prioritized effort. However, mindful of avoiding distraction by fleeting trends (or the latest new and shiny tools!), we concurrently explore the potential encapsulated in the ‘what ifs’ that Generative AI can unexpectedly unlock. To support this dual approach, we’ve created a clear framework (Create | Visualize | Synthesize | Connect), strategically focusing our innovation efforts. This framework underscores AI’s capacity to both evaluate and create; drive efficiency and inspire. By focusing on both inputs and outputs, we (somewhat ironically) identify where technology can amplify human advantage and foster meaningful connections.

Simon Atkinson – Chief Knowledge Officer at Ipsos Group

Simon Atkinson is the Chief Knowledge Officer for the Ipsos Group where he works with teams around the world to bring analysis of the latest consumer trends and business themes to Ipsos’ clients.

Simon Atkinson, Chief Knowledge Officer for the Ipsos Group

Emerging trends: We are already seeing how AI applied to insights can boost the creative process, helping us and our clients imagine and work on a range of different scenarios and make quicker progress along the way. But we at the same time been reminding ourselves of Amara’s law: we run the risk of overestimating the impact of a new technology in the short term but underestimating the implications in the longer term.

So, I predict that organizations will remain worried in 2024 about whether they have the balance right between implementing big things right here right now versus taking a more progressive, iterative approach.”

Simon Atkinson on 2024 trend predictions

Year in review and learnings: People have been worrying about information overload for years, and AI has been able to help make the process of searching and sorting the information that’s most relevant for years as well.

This year has stepped things up a gear or two as Generative AI gives us new opportunities to summarize information (people want “snackable” content) and tailor it to certain audiences. In conjunction with a trained human, of course!”

Simon Atkinson on 2023 key learnings

Impact and use of AI in your organization: At Ipsos, we have started a “mass experiment” called Ipsos Facto, which is our own Generative AI platform. It has three goals: to democratize Gen AI, to embed it in our daily work, and to create new ways to boost speed and efficiency in a wide range of tasks. So, we are going to see AI have an impact across big areas of our activities — transcription, coding, translating, curating, wordsmithing, generating topline reports, etc. It’s going to be at the heart of how we do things, whether it’s about improving existing products or building new ones.

Martha Nye, Global Insights Manager at SmartestEnergy

Martha Nye is the Global Insights Manager at SmartestEnergy – a B2B energy company empowering switched-on customers, generators, and partners to get to net zero. She is responsible for providing insightful intelligence to global Sales, Marketing, Product, and C-suite colleagues in the UK, US, and Australia, to inform strategy and business decisions.

Martha Nye, Global Insights Manager at SmartestEnergy

Emerging trends: Democratization of insights is already prevalent in businesses, as showcased in the How AI will transform use of research, data & insights report, and I believe this trend will only grow. Over the past year, we’ve seen colleagues turning to AI (such as OpenAI) to speed up tasks and solve problems, and they’ve experienced a new method of accessing information. I think they will want to bring this experience into Insights. I’m expecting my stakeholders to ask for access to insight via a chat function, and receive answers based on information that we have curated and verified — without needing to come directly to the team.

I expect that I will spend less time answering queries and sharing information, and more time curating content and managing the impacts for my colleagues and the business. I’m very excited about this, as I rarely get the time to properly ‘think’ and look at the big picture to spot those longer trends and important market movements. This will allow Insights to bring more value to the business strategy. I’m also excited to see what the next year will bring in AI development, considering just how fast things have moved.”

Martha Nye on emerging trends in insights

Year in review and learnings: A key challenge for my team has long been that my stakeholders have little resources to read and watch content that is provided and would like the summaries and key points from Insights. To avoid spending all our time reading whitepapers, we’re using AI to summarize anything we add to our knowledge management system. We’re also trialing an AI Q&A tool that will bring different sources together to provide a more rounded answer and one that can be accessed at the time it is needed. The most important thing I’ve learned is that these tools are not perfect! It is always worth rephrasing your prompt several times to help it find what you’re looking for. It is also essential that any information you’ll be relying on or using to decide should be checked by a human.

Impact and use of AI in your organization: My organization is presently exploring potential AI uses with both enthusiasm and caution. We’re an innovative business but diving into something like this without the necessary due diligence seems naïve. Currently, my team is using AI tools as resource-savers, allowing us to spend more time on bigger-picture work and interaction with colleagues.

I would particularly like to use AI to manage datasets in the future. I expect the current usage to continue in 2024, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more parts of the business engaging in AI and begin integrating it into other processes.”

Martha Nye on usage of AI in 2024

Our IT & Change team is currently working with vendor partners to help define an AI engagement framework at our organization. We also want to identify opportunities to leverage AI capabilities that put human interaction at the heart of the use cases. This should help limit the bias inherent in Generative AI and provide quality output with clear and accurate data lineage. Some new systems we are introducing have significant AI capabilities as part of their core offering, which will enable our organization to provide richer analytics for better and faster decision-making and eliminate previously labor-intensive and monotonous tasks.

Learn more about 2023 and 2024 market insights trends across research, data, and insights – download our AI innovation report now.

Want to keep up with real-time changes required by the market and become more insights-driven as an organization? Explore how DeepSights™ can help – book a demo today.