Can researchers deliver insight for change? Live from Research 2008: Do agency researchers have the skills to help clients ‘ensure transformation’?

Are traditionally trained researchers up to the job of delivering real business insight? That was the topic debated this morning at Research 2008 in London.
In a panel discussion hosted by Research editor Marc Brenner, entitled ‘Ensuring Transformation’, broadcaster BSkyB’s marketing strategy director Danny Russell said there were questions over whether current research skillsets were capable of delivering the understanding clients need to drive real business change.

“Lots of researchers are trained to be project focused, rather than commercially aware,” he said, while Simon Carter, executive director of marketing at travel firm Thomas Cook, bemoaned those agency staff that join the industry straight from university and “don’t understand how the client side works.”
Many in the audience believed agencies had much to gain from developing their employees business nous, with a spot survey finding 57% agreeing that research resulting in business transformation was worth a premium.
But Russell said he was “amazed” by the results of another spot poll that found 42% of clients would not demand a refund for research that did not change their business. He said those clients “must have money to burn,” although Elizabeth Fagan, marketing director of high-street pharmacist Boots, was quick to point out that “research is just one input – by itself it cannot lead to transformation.”
Nick Johnson, CEO at Evo Research, sided with Fagan. “The implication,” he said, “is that it if it doesn’t ensure transformation it is cheaper. Our commodity is truth and we cannot offer people the truth for £10 or the same truth for £9.”
Author: James Verrinder - Research E-Magazine

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