It was the great British intellectual of the 19th century, Herbert Spencer, who famously observed that “every science is a foresight.” For science, foresight in everything; indeed science itself is foresight, simply because foresight is all about addressing a future problem before people even realise there could be a problem. The same applies to market research, and foresight has a central role to play.
While insights are highly valuable, as they derive from data related to customers’ concerns and opinions in the here and now, foresight is about anticipating and solving a problem that may arise in the future. Insight has its roots in an understanding of customer and audience behaviour; it is based on what they are already saying and doing. Insights can shape future actions to an extent but foresight can take the real big leap into the future. With actionable foresight, brands can innovate and stay ahead of the curve. Brands can meet customers in a future that you have, as a researcher, already predicted and prepared for.
Technology drives foresight
So, how do brands and businesses convert insight into a foresight? If you thought you could rely purely on intuition or inspiration, think again. In a data-rich world, it’s the technology that plays a crucial role in arriving at a foresight. Data analysis, empowered by sophisticated tools and processes, can help businesses evolve a design for the future.
Choosing appropriate analytics tools to help businesses tap into data to move from hindsight to insight and then foresight. Businesses can innovate and stay ahead of the curve, thanks to such information. Today’s analytics have evolved from descriptive and diagnostic to predictive, and now prescriptive. While predictive analytics makes use of machine learning (ML) algorithms to predict what happens in the future, based on past patterns, prescriptive tools also chart out a path — they help you understand what will happen and suggest how to get the desired outcome.
Technology in the form of analytical tools and platforms will ensure companies expand to new markets, develop and innovate to offer a wider bouquet of services and products or even a whole unprecedented line of offerings based on future needs. A range of analytics technologies is being used increasingly to analyse big data. These include cloud computing and business intelligence (BI) tools, among others.
Role of DIY analytics tools
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have changed the landscape of most sectors. It is a game-changer when it comes to market research, where data is of the essence. The role of a do-it-yourself (DIY) tool to evolve predictive models with the help of ML algorithms is crucial to solving business problems. It also helps marketers and analysts gain a comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour and pain points.
Data science, and consequently, foresight, can help businesses resolve dilemmas that arise during the pricing of their products, analysing competition and understanding market demand. An AI-backed predictive analytical tool with an easy interface is just what any business wants for better foresight. A good next step is to get hold of a prescriptive analytics tool that uses simulation algorithms to help businesses what to do next.
No matter which ML-based analytics tool you use for a business, it helps you discover anomalies so you can take corrective action immediately. Artificial intelligence-powered tools also remove unconscious human biases or predilections from the mix and provide solid foresight.
Self-service or DIY tools are empowering because they give users greater control and flexibility over how data is filtered. DIY analytics tools offer insights and foresight to all stakeholders in an organisation and ensure that it leads to key foresight that drives business decisions.
In conclusion, technology backed by AI and ML has a lot going for it, in terms of moving from an insights-based strategy to a foresight-based strategy. Every business should consider moving from insights to foresight. Foresight drives innovation and long-term success; foresight wins customers and brands, today, need products that are developed on foresight. So, it becomes easier to understand consumers and give them what they need.
Jasal Shah – CEO, Managing Director and Spokesperson of Markelytics and Velocity MR
An MBA graduate from the Institute for Technology and Management and has worked with leading agencies like IDC (International Data Corporation) and IMRB International (Part of the Kantar Group, WPP's information, insight and consultancy division). He specializes in technology related market research. He was recently felicitated with the Leadership Award by World Marketing Congress endorsed by CMO Asia for his contribution to Market Research Industry. On the personal front, he lives with his wife and sons in Bangalore. Mr. Shah has also served as the council member of most prestigious global market research association – ESOMAR.