The Future and Beyond: what GRIT does—and doesn’t—tell us about the future of insights


By Greg Heist, Chief Innovation Officer, Gongos, Inc.

The semi-annual release of the GRIT report is always a must-read item. This temperature check of the insights space illustrates a collective view of our unfolding future.

When reading GRIT, I tend to look for divergences and gaps. How has time shifted perceptions?  Where are the disconnects between client-side and agency-side researchers?  What do the results say about what we should pay attention to as we forge this brave new world?


After digesting this issue of GRIT, three things are on the forefront of my mind:

Mobile has both arrived and become a centerpiece of our industry’s future

Of all the things that mobile promises, the mobile survey is arguably the least compelling. While GRIT cites 64% adoption of mobile surveys, mobile qualitative is really where the game will change. It’s obvious from these results that a whole new tranche of emerging applications is poised to drive a sea change – shifting our discussions from mobile-as-a-collection-device to mobile-as-a-window-of-measurement.

In one sense this shouldn’t be surprising, since the smartphone revolution was really the impetus for this. But, at this point in time, it’s merely an alternative medium for completing a traditional survey. Though, this “first phase of adoption” is rapidly approaching maturity.

When looking at future consideration of mobile qualitative by clients, it’s only a matter of time before this “second phase of adoption” will bring us a much more vivid representation of consumers and their worlds.

Applying foresight to the fringes

“Sleepers” often lie where the crowd is most bearish. In GRIT, several techniques scored as very low future consideration, including facial analysis, biometric response, wearables, and the Internet of Things.  While this may be true today, there is heavy investment in these areas outside of our industry.  Therefore, we simply cannot lose sight of these fringe applications. As technologies like Nest, Hue, Sense, and Quirky gain market traction, they are sure to permeate both the insights and foresight industries.

Big Opportunities lie beyond GRIT

It’s increasingly clear that the insights industry can no longer be defined solely by the collection of primary data and its analysis.

In fact, I believe that the biggest future opportunities lie outside the data collection techniques measured in the GRIT report.

Case in point, while big data is briefly mentioned in the current incarnation of the report, it’s only a matter of time before its disruptive effects are felt broadly within the industry. As organizations learn to harness the fusion of primary and enterprise data, a new tipping point will be reached—one that is less focused on reporting the past and more focused on predicting the future.

Beyond this, organizations are awash in insights gathering “dust” on shared drives. There is incredible opportunity to help clients derive greater meaning by curating and socializing this latent wisdom. This discipline is in its nascent stages, but nonetheless offers great promise for better informing organizational decision-making at all levels.

So while the GRIT report remains the most forward-focused perspective on the forces shaping our industry, more profound change will occur as we release ourselves from pre-defined notions of what research is.

When that occurs, the conversation will shift from incremental change to visible transformation.