Market Research Joins The Gig Economy

It’s the new future of job security, even if it looks nothing like the job security of the past, giving me freedom and flexibility.

“The secret to job security in 2019 and beyond is to remember that we build our own security and carry it around with us. No employer can assure you lifetime employment anymore. No private company can. No public employer can.” Liz Ryan, CEO/founder of Human Workplace  

I left agency land over 10 years ago and have never looked back. I enjoy the freedom and flexibility that working as an independent insights professional gives me. I have more control over the type of work I do and now have the privilege of being able to pick and choose the projects and clients I take on. Instead of one client, an agency or corporation…I have multiple clients and diversity. It’s the new future of job security, even if it looks nothing like the job security of the past, giving me freedom and flexibility.

Up to 50% of the US workforce will be freelance by 2027. The Freelance Economy, Morgan Stanley, 2018

So, what is behind the rise of the ‘Free Agent Nation’… Technology.

As Richard and Daniel Susskind discuss in their recent book ‘The Future of the Professions’, technology and cloud computing are disrupting the ‘traditional contract of professional services’ enabling ‘corporations of one’ to operate and act like larger organisations through the use of virtual assistants, outsourced admin, machine learning, collaboration with peers, online service platforms, accessible data visualisation tools and online accounting software.

But freelancing is not without its challenges

Workflow, project efficiencies and wondering where the next job is going to come from forced me to adopt new business development and networking skills – not an easy task for a closet introvert.

In the early days, this meant having to take whatever job came my way just to keep the lights on. Finding the right partners to collaborate with both from a skill and culture fit… wrangling Xero, paying salaries, outsourcing where I could and wondering whether the bank will mind extending my overdraft one more time 🙂 For insight practitioners who are used to retainers, someone else doing the business development and a reliable system of payment, this transition might come as a bit of a shock, as it did for me.

However, the disintermediation in professional services is here to stay and it is now time for market research to become part of this new world order. Given the top six research companies Nielsen, Kantar, QuintilesIMS, Ipsos, Gfk and IRI – generate one-quarter of the total market research revenue globally ($18 billion in fee income in 2017), I think there is room for disruption.

What does this mean for the research agency of one?

The future is bright for consumer insights and human behaviour specialists. The consumer calls the shots and customer centricity has never been more important. The opportunity for great customer insights to support business decisions is at an all-time high. With marketing shifting from mass to personal, the need to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach is imperative.

“Consumer insights research gets under the skin and inside the consumer’s head to find the “why” of a purchase, to understand what happened, and to project what could occur in the future.” Jure Klepic , Business 2 Community

As clients search for the “why”, rethink agency entanglements and aim to connect with consumers on a more personal level, insights specialists have everything to gain in this new future of work. With a greater demand for strategic insights, comes a required supply of customer insights specialists who are highly experienced, understand complex client business problems, deliver niche experience and leverage new technology platforms that ensures they can meet research needs quickly, efficiently and more cost effectively.

To leverage this changing landscape, we developed Insight Exchange – a two sided marketplace that connects experienced, independent insight specialists with progressive clients through an online platform.

Instead of spending hours marketing, chasing leads and payment, specialists can join a vetted community of research experts, choose the projects they wish to work on, collaborate with clients who value their skills and receive payment quickly.

 “Online platforms allow traditional professionals to convene, collaborate and deliver services in teams and structures that were not possible in the past.” Daniel Susskind, Future of Professions

If you’ve taken the plunge as a freelance insights specialist or are thinking about making the jump, register now on Insight Exchange and be part of the future of market research.