Exactly three weeks ago, The Leading Edge (TLE) was walking up onstage to collect the Research Agency of the Year trophy at the B&T Awards 2017. Here, we chew the fat with managing director Lee Naylor about what the win means to the agency, and the rise of ‘fake data’.
Firstly, what does the award win mean to TLE?
Winning Research Agency of the Year is recognition of our wonderful teams’ achievements in 2017. And while it’s a celebration of the great work we have done – and are continuing to do – it’s equally important to celebrate our fantastic clients for putting our work into action.
We hope that a great win like this from B&T will show people how they can use research driven insight to drive business success.
How has the market research industry evolved in recent years?
There has been significant disruption across the industry; everything from big data to AI. However, one thing that should never change is an agency’s focus on getting the best result for clients. It’s about evaluating the best way to do this by harnessing these new technologies.
There is an opportunity for agencies like us that are agnostic and agile when it comes to technique and method.
Some days we utilise what clients already have in terms of data and information, while other times it will require primary research – using a more traditional approach or taking advantage of new tech tools to give the client what they need.
I see the market research industry splitting into three fields – data collection, analytics and consulting – but as data becomes more readily available and commoditised, the real skill is in knowing what data to use and how to translate that into clear commercial action; therefore, requiring a combination of all three fields.
How is TLE innovating to lead in this sector?
The key to innovating in the market research sector is to appreciate that it’s not about what you do with new technologies, but rather it’s the way that you do it.
For example, at The Leading Edge, we only utilise new tech as a means of getting to a better answer; putting bright shiny new things in just for the sake of ‘being innovative’ is not true innovation.
Sometimes this is driven by our clients and their challenges, when they put something on the table that requires us to think outside the box.
Innovation is not always about doing something earth-shatteringly new – it’s about using something in a different way or combining approaches in interesting ways to get a better outcome.
It could even be about bringing people into the business from a variety of backgrounds to help think in different ways.
What’s the importance of understanding what people actually think among the rise of ‘fake news’?
The market research industry is not immune from the issues of ‘fake news’, or even worse ‘fake facts’ or ‘fake data’. The most innocuous number, if not understood correctly, can have a life of its own and be detrimental to a company.
The other issue is that data without the context dangerous. If you don’t recognise and appreciate what the data can both equally represent and misrepresent, then it may drive bad decision-making.
The rise of analytics is great in principle, but scarily, it is being used without people understanding the data source and the limitations or strengths that it has.
How does TLE plan to defend the title of B&T’s Research Agency of the Year in 2018?
By working on some amazing projects with fantastic clients and delivering outstanding work. We need to keep getting better and to challenge ourselves and our clients. If we do that, then we hopefully have a chance to be recognised in 2018.