2023 Research Society Conference Reflections

Reflections on The Research Society Conference

As the 2023 Human Insights Conference draws to a close, we thought it worth penning some reflections on the conference.

Some of the highlights

  • Conference committee membership is inspiring, rewarding, and a great way to connect. Coming from working in larger organisations, a small business can be a lonely place when you’re not partnering with other agencies. Being part of the committee has been a great way to see the sheer breadth of great work going on in the industry, and connect with some brilliant minds.
  • Gen Z aren’t, by default, ‘tech savvy’. This was a really interesting insight – we often think digital natives are tech-savvy and can navigate anything with a screen. The Trends session dispelled this: when the UI is seamless, it’s easy to navigate. But some of the technology older consumers are used to (fax machines, printers/scanners, even our online research platforms) can be clunky, confusing and full of friction. Don’t just think because they’re Gen Z, they’ll ‘get it’ immediately - they have had the fortune of growing up in a world of optimised experience, and anything less is jarring. Many thanks to TRA for their views on TikTok as an ethnographic tool for Gen Z.
  • Tik-Tok for younger generations is a fantastic way to meet them on their turf. It’s often hard to get great feedback from younger generations who are time-poor (and often poorly incentivized). Using TikTok is a great way to meet them on a platform they use often, is by default a video-reach media, and yields great feedback (thanks TRA).
  • Video hasn’t killed the radio star – Rob Barnfield and Liz Moore from ABC talked us through how the face of audio has changed, but also the profound role audio plays in people’s lives (from talkback to podcasts, music stations to drifting off to sleep). As a musician and self-confessed audiophile, this was a great session and a reminder of the power of audio.
  • The tech stream showcased the power of AI and its fast-evolving role in our industry. We heard from Qualtrics, Yabble and Alchemy Research. From synthesizing existing reports to data collection, moderation to insight generation, it’s clear AI and LLM is fast-changing the research industry. Nik Samoylov of Conjointly and The Campaign for AI Safety also urged patience and caution around some of the drawbacks and limitations of AI. This carried through to a great session discussing whether we need to Accelerate the adoption of AI, stomp on the Brakes, or Coast while we wait to see what the future holds.
  • Toby Walsh, Chief Scientist at UNSW’s recently created AI department, was seen often at many sessions, adding fantastic insight and commentary on the changing role of AI.
  • It was great to hear from some of the leading panels about data integrity and fraud, given how important consumer opinion is to our industry.
  • Adam Axford was a fabulous wrap-up to the conference, and a fantastic reminder to seek awe in the everyday.
  • Meeting with other mentors / mentees as part of The Research Society’s Mentoring program was great; so many people keen to learn and upskill, and so many generous mentors helping the next generation.
  • Big thanks to Mark Solonsch at Believe:Neurodiversity, a fantastic session on creating connection and inclusivity in workplaces, leading to a superior competitive advantage. And, it's just part of being good humans.
  • Stan Grant was a revelation, and a timely reminder about the importance of our humanity and person-to-person connection. Dialing in at 130AM from Denmark, his session was authentic, and raw. There were few dry-eyes by the time he finished – and a standing ovation was a testament to the impact he had.

If you have further questions or comments on the conference, please reach out!


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