The folks at Greenbook just released the 23rd edition of the GRIT Report and we at MindProber are honoured to be included in the first-ever GRITscape, occupying our buzzing village on the island of Neuroland.

While the GRITscape is a clever and extremely useful way to map the market research landscape, the GRIT Report focuses on a more interesting subject: Automation in market research. If you recall – if not you can always just read it here – at the start of the here we mapped automation as one of the trends that would gather momentum within the industry throughout 2018.

This edition of the GRIT Report reprises the automation survey held in 2017 in order to understand where the trend is going, and if automation adoption is indeed growing within the industry. Looking at the comparison table between 2017 and 2018 we might hastily assume that, in fact, automation adoption is decreasing

In most of the items, we can see that the number of companies that say they are using automation did diminish from last year. Except for Project Design, every single one of the tasks analyzed in both years have seen a decrease in terms of adoption.

Sample issues (has pointed on the report) aside, this apparent slowing down of automation adoption is, we think, linked to the fact that we’re still on early stages of development of automation tools, and not all organizations are prepared to integrate these tools within their companies’ toolbox. What seems to happen is there is an eagerness to test the tools and run pilots and, as the results or the process are not aligned with expectations or ecosystem, the idea is then dropped, at least in the meantime.

The GRIT team calls this the “narrowing of focus” hypothesis, where the number of companies that answered that tasks are “not applicable to our organization” has grown across the board. As a growing number of organizations deep their toes in automation, the number of those that don’t find a fit between tools and their current objectives also grows.

This can also be seen on the following graph that clearly shows that there’s still a lot of automation tools that are being tried on a pilot basis and a lot of companies that aren’t sure how to best test and implement these automation alternatives.

But while there’s still some uncertainty about what tools to use, and what tasks to automate, there’s little doubt that automation will increasingly become essential in market research. In fact, more than 70% of the sample agreed with the notion the adoption of automation throughout the industry and within their organizations will grow in the next years.

As we pointed at the start of the year, automation in market research is growing and it will become a mainstream feature in the next five years. As with all new technologies and processes, full adoption doesn’t happen throughout the night; it will take organizations several tests and pilots not only to start to understand what sort of competitive advantages they stand to gain but also how best to integrate the adoption of automated tasks within their current processes and workflows.

It’s natural and expected that some headwind friction occurs when new processes are tested. But automation in market research will continue to evolve and to allow faster and more insightful inputs to be gained, as we the automation of tasks free researchers to think and analyze more thoroughly the way consumers think, behave and make decisions.