(Wo)man VS. machine: From competition to collaboration

Date of publication: November 3, 2017

Company: SKIM

Author: Samantha Bond


It is no secret that the market research industry is under pressure to deliver sound and strategic insights within shrinking budgets and timeframes. Ten years from now efficiency is predicted to be the number one deciding factor when commissioning research. This paper investigates automation as a potential solution. Specifically, the use of automated tools during qualitative analysis. We set out to discover whether automation is even feasible, and if so, what are the benefits and drawbacks for research professionals? What is the impact on the time, cost and quality of insights? Moreover, how do clients evaluate these trade-offs? To answer these questions we collaborated with Danone and Voxpopme, devising a head-to-head competition between human analysis, machine analysis and a combination of the two. This resulted in three research reports, evaluated by Danone in relation to their business needs. From this experiment we learn that the outputs from machine analysis do not offer ‘magic bullet’ insights. This paper subsequently evaluates our experiment from both an agency and client-side perspective, providing insight into the key learnings we gained during a study that gave us optimism for the future and taught us not to compete, but to collaborate with machines.

Samantha Bond


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