BAQMaR Conference #10: The End (or Not?)

By Steven Debaere @ IESEG School of Management.

What started 10 years ago as one of the first conferences for Market Research (MR) and Analytics in Belgium, ended on the same location in the Mariott Hotel in Ghent on the 15th of December 2016. Tom De Ruyck (BAQMaR President) gave three reasons why BAQMaR stops. First, back in 2006, the organization was invented to make the industry great and cool again. As every day, we are bombarded with data buzz words and MR/analytics articles take an omnipresent position in our news feeds, one can fairly state the industry shook off its dusty image. Second, to innovate on conference organization and knowledge sharing concepts. Co-presenting the last edition with robot Mario tops and summarizes nicely all innovative ideas BAQMaR ever tried out. Third, to create a Belgian community. The big attendance of MR & Analytics enthusiasts, for the 10th time in a row, proves the fact that the community is alive more than ever.

As all good concept endings, BAQMaR invited top speakers to look back with the audience on what has happened in the MR & Analytics industry and to look forward on what the future holds for us…

Looking back

Prof. dr. Vincent F. Hendricks (Center for Bubble Studies, Denmark) pointed out that bubbles, often associated with finance and real estate markets, also occur in social media environments. If the assets (attention span) obtain a price (likes, shares etc.) far exceeding the estimated fundamental value, bubbles exists and strange phenomena occur (e.g. a Justin Bieber look-a-like becoming a celebrity himself). We need to be aware of these phenomena and anticipate on it if it would threaten our society such as is the case with cyber bullying.

Maarten Verschuere (Clever, Belgium) described the perfect storm as the intersection where MR and data science meet. Market research can benefit from data science by obtaining 360° consumer insights, delivering an actionable database and providing great efficiency gains. However, we need to start experimentation and technology adoption right now to be sure we are on the right side of the storm and catch the upcoming waves! Ready?

Looking forward

Ludovic Depoortere (Haystack, Belgium) introduced Virtual Reality (VR) to sensory research. VR can tackle MR challenges by adding context, seasonality and providing the right positioning. Ask yourself, would you taste beer yourself differently in a controlled office environment or out on the sunny terrace (enabled through a VR environment)? Do you think the results would be different? Definitely yes and in favor of the VR setting! So why not integrate VR in your MR methodology toolbox?

Andrew Konya (Remesh, United States) showed the audience that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help qualitative research tremendously. If a simplified MR process would consist of 1) research question, 2) data collection, 3) data analysis and 4) powerpoint, then AI could help MR in the 2nd phase by automating conversations with participants and in the 3th phase by automating analysis of conversation. This is no science fiction! The future is here!

Sam Wouters (Duval Union Consulting, Belgium) explained how the MR industry can benefit from blockchain. Blockchain, originating from the finance industry, is a technology that keeps track of bitcoin transactions and creates an environment without the need for trusted third parties. If consumers could manage and track their digital identity through time and usage purpose, would consumers not be more incentivized to share personal data due to increased transparency?

Daphne Fecheyr Lippens (Ghent University, Belgium) pointed out that nature has 3.8 billion years advance in Research & Development, so why not learn from it through biomimicry to design the future of tomorrow? For example, a banana peel show us the quality of the fruit and the color of flamingos indicates the nutrition level. Why not look for inspiration in nature to design new products? When organizing your business, why not learn from concepts such as swarm intelligence and mutualism? We can use our own intelligence to create the future that we want, so why not learn from nature and become a constructive innovator?

The end. Or not?

To finish the BAQMaR conference, the organization team was called up on stage and congratulated for all their initiatives to promote MR & Analytics practices in Belgium. Afterwards, drinks & beats were served in the hotel cellar. This edition can be seen as a nice conclusion of the BAQMaR conference series. But is this really the end?

See you in another life???