The IIEX Conference in Bangkok

A thankful return to normality

Last month, Greenbook held its Asia Pacific conference in Bangkok, the first in-person conference in Asia to resume after the pandemic under the theme of Insight Innovation Exchange (IIEX). The conference was produced by GreenBook’s Asia Pacific Editor, Colin Wong with a focus on innovation, disruptive methodologies, forward-thinking brand speakers and introducing a second track in a live technology demonstration.

The event brought together 166 different organisations from 22 countries, with 42 presentations including breakout group discussions on the latest topics in consumer insight with innovation at its core.

The presentations and discussions covered customer engagement through personalisation and ‘human-centred insights’, generational marketing, user experience and design, the latest in online data collection and quality control, future proofing research, and of course the latest in research technology (ResTech).

One of the breakout groups, chaired by Michael McCrary (CEO of PureSpectrum), looked at ResTech and its role and value in consumer insight. The panellists included Kathryn Topp, CEO of Yabble, Akanksha Rastogi, Head of Insights at Foodpanda, Siddhartha Rajagopalan, Global Lead of Consumer Excellence at Agoda, and Piers Lee, MD of BVA BDRC Asia.

One of the hottest topics of the conference and the subject of this breakout group was the significance of artificial intelligence (AI) in market research. For qualitative research and the processing of unstructured data, AI can provide huge benefits in automation and saving executive time. The discussion group widely acknowledged the benefit of AI in time-saving, such that executive time usually spent on processing information is instead directed to more value-add areas of research that AI cannot currently handle (e.g. certain ‘human judgements’, values, empathy, imagination, etc).

Some comment that AI can unlock deeper findings in survey research than humans can, due to our lack of time, personal biases, tendency to use ‘mental shortcuts’ (e.g. skim data), or lack of cognitive power. However, many conclude that the main application of AI today is as an imperfect cost-cutting device that can ‘deliver 80% of the insight’ but at considerably lower cost compared to human-based research.

The key issue, though, is what we do about the missing 20% of the insight – while AI might give us 80% of the insight at perhaps less than half the cost of traditional research, is this 80% the stuff we already know about? Is the missing 20% the stuff that gives the client a competitive advantage and is therefore the main return on investment in the research?

Many agree that AI is ‘part of the project team’, meaning that AI and humans can work in partnership in the way humans currently work alongside robots in factories. However, will the human researcher have enough time to check whether the AI has missed crucial insights from the data, or will they have too much faith in the AI doing the work for them?

Clearly AI will remain a hot topic for the research industry for years to come and it is certain to be the theme of future events at IIEX.

Colin Wong (pictured left), Editor & Regional Representative, APAC, GreenBook comments: “Great to be reconnected with fellow insights professionals, and business leaders to share new ideas and disruptive tech to evolve the future of insights.”

“Always exciting to be in Asia, and especially so after so long. The vibes are just phenomenal. Overall, it was a fantastic event filled with knowledge sharing, innovation and collaboration. A great learning experience,” says Claudia Siregar (pictured left), Co-Founder of Asia Research Media.

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