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Leading Insights Through Change

Moderated by Bart Borkosky, Chief Research Officer of OvationMR, the panel on insights teams also included Clay McKissack, Senior Vice President, Retail Sales & Market Insights, GE Lighting; and Renata Policicio, Senior Vice President, Global Streaming and HBO Research, Warner Bros. Discovery.

There seems to be constant disruption now. Is that safe to say? Perhaps the only thing that’s not going to change, is that there’ll be constant change. How do you actually navigate those waters?

“I’ve been in the insights industry for about 19 years now. And we have seen an evolution,” says Oates. “As part of our role, we must be thinking about how consumers are thinking, how they’re shopping, what they want, what they need, what they expect. And expectations haven’t gotten less. They’ve only gotten higher. If we look just at the very brief past, the last three years for being an insights professional have been the most exciting and the most terrifying of my career. Everything has changed and given us an opportunity to stand up, especially as an insight function—to be leaders and how we’re thinking, what we’re saying, and how we’re pushing our businesses forward into the future.”

What does that mean for the team? What does that mean for stakeholders? What does that mean for technology?

Oates continues, “We have to constantly evolve and learn. It could be because we do have to think about pushing ourselves forward into the future as well. There is a constant evolution in who we are and how we act and part of that is, we talk about insights professionals. Absolutely, we must know how to discover, uncover and bring to life insights, but more than that, we have to be business consultants today. And that’s what I’m going to talk about on our panel and talking about being not just insights professionals, but business consultants and pushing forward because it’s not enough to be interesting. You can’t just be interesting. You have to be impactful.”

That impact is in part designing your team so that they can relate to the stakeholders that need that information in a certain way. How are you involving technology in a different way, with all of this disruption, and some of it coming from the technology itself?

“Technology should be an enabler for us. We can’t rely on tech. It’s not about the tech. It’s about the insight and the tech that helps us find it,” she says. “We need to think about who we are and how we bring to life our insights and leverage all of the amazing tech that’s coming along right now today. But really thinking about using it as a tool and not the answer. In terms of AI, I think we’re starting to lean in, and so that could be what might happen, in a positive way. Last year, at this time, we were talking about the metaverse and this year, we’re talking about AI. In both cases, we’ll continue to think about what is and what could be. And, yes, there’s a little bit of fear when we say AI. Are we going to be replaced? I think the answer to that is, no, we’re not going to be replaced, but we’re going to get better if we use it in the right way.”

You bring up two different technologies and your thoughts on the future. It feels the metaverse was maybe presented to us as a not yet ready for prime-time concept last year. This year, that doesn’t seem to be the case for artificial intelligence.

“It’s here,” says Oates. “We’ve already been using artificial intelligence in how we operate and how we work. Now we’re talking about using it in new ways. And I think AI versus generative AI will be the next level and step change. We are at the cusp of figuring out how do we use Gen AI to help us do our jobs better to push our organizations forward. To serve our customers better, all in the sense of not replacing anything but making us all better.”

Check out the full video interview from TMRE, as Adler and Oates look at navigating the future of insights.


  • Seth Adler

    Seth Adler heads up All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has spent his career bringing people together around content. He has a dynamic background producing events, podcasts, video, and the written word.

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  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.

    View all posts

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