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AI in research: It is a tool, not a threat

In the current media and marketing landscape, where digital platforms can provide analysts, researchers and marketers with copious amount of information and data, pinpointing the right information for your marketing plans to resonate is harder then ever.

Marketing spoke to Phil Steggals, managing director of Kadence International, who shares with us how marketers can embrace and leverage on new technology to turn data into insights.

Marketing: What are some of the research based issues clients today are facing?

Steggals: Perhaps the biggest challenge is understanding the right question to ask. Clients should be wary of prescribing the methods, questions and outcomes that they want to see – and be more open to posing business objectives to agencies.

A strong agency will be able to use a mix of methods and techniques that will often yield far greater insights.

Marketing: In a digital first world, how have traditional research agencies evolved?

Steggals: Successful agencies have been flexible to the client needs. Those that have evolved have been able to bring together multiple sources of information and help the client cut through to what can actually make a difference to the business. The most successful agencies of tomorrow will be the ones that maintain an open mind about blending new technologies and tried and tested approaches to bring new innovations to clients.

Marketing: How do new areas of technology like AI change your role? What are the challenges market research agencies need to overcome in order to provide relevant data and insights?

Steggals: AI is just one example of a tool that researchers (and marketers) have at their disposal. It is a tool, not a threat. Years ago, online research was touted as being a threat to all offline research. Yet telephone interviews and face to face still thrives in many parts of the world. The biggest challenge that marketers need to be wary of is resisting change. Everyone should be looking to embrace new technology and seek opportunities to partner market research (particularly primary research) with other tools.

Marketing: Have marketers understood the importance of insight-driven approaches in shaping their marketing processes?

Steggals: Some have and some have not. The most successful ones, put research at the core of their marketing strategy. The next step is ensuring that insights are the starting point of a business strategy. For this, the data needs to be turned into insights. Then insights need to be turned into a compelling narrative. Only by doing this will the boardrooms take notice.

Marketing: Please share some tips for marketers wanting to go the extra mile with their research, given their competitors too are also using research to make informed decisions.

Steggals: There are two key elements that clients need to look at. The first is letting an agency into the business. Partnering with an agency that you like and working together to increase the impact that research can have. The second, is to be open to trying new approaches. Embrace multi-method approaches for answering questions. Ensuring sufficient budgets for innovation is probably also helpful!


Kadence International is the gold sponsor of the upcoming Research and Insights Asia 2018 conference.

Join us for a day of dynamic knowledge-sharing with the aims of uncovering key developments and issues pertinent to the market research industry. If you would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Joven Barcenas at or reach him at +65 6423 0329