[00:50]

Over the last decade the market research industry has been disrupted.  Our largest agencies are struggling to keep up as their customers turn to newer, faster and cheaper data sources. Now we are on the edge of yet another market shift. Now is the time for us to reassert ourselves as the rudder of the brands we love. Thank you for tuning in to the Happy Market Research Podcast where we are charting the path for the future of market researchers and businesses. Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil, and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast.  Today my guest is Sima Vasa, founder of Paradigm Sample, Chairperson of SampleCon, and founder of Infinity Squared Ventures. Additionally, Sima has recently started Data Gurus, a leading market research podcast. Sima, thanks very much for being on the Happy Market Research Podcast.

[01:37]

Thank you for having me.  I’m excited to be here.

[01:40]

It’s an honor to have a fellow podcaster participating.  Podcasting, as I found out once I embarked on this journey in August of this year, is not widely known about in the market research space.  Has that been something you found with your journey?

[02:00]

Yeah, definitely.  It’s funny I started it probably about a year ago around about, and early days I remember when I launched, it was kind of like “Oh, that sounds a little crazy.  Why are you doing that?” And now as people like yourself and other people have entered the market, it feels like people… It’s getting some more traction. And I think there’s a lot of podcasting going on outside of market research.  That influences the acceptability in our industry as well.

[02:31]

Yeah, totally.  How long have you been consuming podcasts?

[02:35]

Probably, to be honest, I consume podcasts so much more after I started Data Gurus.

Prior to that, I was probably listening to the NPR podcast – you know casually, not on a regular basis. 

[02:49]   

Yeah, totally.  For me, it was a transition from audiobooks into consumption of podcasts, which just gave me a much higher targeted set of content.  Yeah, which I loved and still do actually. It’s kind of a fun journey. Well, anyway, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background:  your parents, how that has impacted your career into market research.

[03:15]

So, my parents are first generation from India here.  They came here when I wasn’t even born. I was born here.  And they really had the traditional immigrant kind of values and affects in terms of working really, really hard, prioritizing education and the responsibilities of family and duty.  I think all of that feeds into who I am today. But I also had a sudden tragedy very early on in my life with my parents, in that my dad died when I was very young. So I had to get out there and work at such a young age to kind of help support the family.

[03:55]

If you don’t mind sharing about what age was that where you started contributing to the family’s livelihood

[04:02]

About 13.  

[04:04]

Do you think that that… you know the entrepreneurial spirit sort of was bred in you at that point in time?  When did you decide that you’re comfortable stepping out and starting a company?

[04:17]

Yeah, definitely, I think the seeds were planted at that time, just given the circumstances that we were left with.  I kind of in my own mind said, “Gosh, I never want to be in this place again.” I watched my dad struggle to keep jobs in large corporations.  And after he passed away, my mom really didn’t have an income. So I swore to myself that I would never be left in that position. And that really drove me to continue to work really hard and then take eventually the leap of faith to start my own company.   

[04:54]

Yeah, my parents had some real rough times, financially.  I was very blessed to have them, obviously, in my life. But along that journey, one of the things that I recognized was I needed to be able to make money just to have spending money.  So then I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was. (I didn’t even know if that word existed. I’m kind of that old.) I started these little side hustles and then it transcended into this kind of like getting a job at age 15 and driving illegally just to be able to get to it.  [laughter]

[05:34]

I know I rode my bike for like miles to go to the McDonald’s to go work and babysitting jobs.  My sister and I had a lawn cutting business. So, I do think it kind of builds that early foundation for having the resilience to make money and rely on yourself to do it.        

[05:54]

And then also know that you…  this confidence I think feeds into that life experience that, in fact, you can do it.  

[06:05]  

I completely agree with you.  It’s all about trusting yourself essentially that you can do it if you set your mind to it.  

[06:12

So you’ve been in the workforce, obviously, since a very early age.   Can you talk to us a little bit about your exposure to market research and what actually brought you into this space from a career perspective?

[06:29]

Yeah, sure.  So, I graduated and the tech boom was happening.  I graduated with a market degree with a focus with international business.  And I knew I wanted to work somewhere in the tech sector. I lived on the east coast and decided that California was too far and set my eyes on Dell computers.  I actually interviewed there, got an offer, but also at the same time interviewed with a company called IntelliQuest, which was acquired by Millward Brown down in Austin, Texas.  And I got an offer there. And I decided to take that job because I thought, instead of having a view of just one company, the job that I got at IntelliQuest was really looking at the entire sector and being able to do syndicated tracking for the PC and laptop market.  That was it: I kind of just grew up in the market research industry from there on.

[07:28]

I remember IntelliQuest actually.  They were a BIG player in our space back in the 90s.  I had forgotten that they had been acquired by ahh… that they had been acquired period.  Weren’t they based out of the Silicon Valley?

[07:47]

They were based in Austin, Texas.

[07:49]

It was Austin.  OK, I knew you’d said that but…  They must have had some presence there.  But anyway, I had a few friends that worked in the Bay Area or lived in the Bay Area, I should say, that worked for them back then.  But, anyway.

[08:02]

Obviously, there were a lot of clients in the Bay Area too since it was focused on tech.

[08:06]   

So, you moved from that dot.com transaction that happened before the bust though, right?

[08:16]

That’s right.  Yeah, so I was there in the early 90s, and I promised my family that I wouldn’t grow roots in Texas.  I just wanted to see if I could move to a city where I didn’t know anybody and really establish myself.  It was a great experience: I actually ended up meeting my husband there. And we both decided to move to New York City after Austin.  And I ended up working at IBM in their research and strategy department.

[08:46]

My friends and family don’t necessarily love me saying this, but I still think New York City is the best city in the [laughs]. I absolutely love it!  

[08:54]

Are you going to break out on Hamilton now, Jamin?

[08:56]

Oh, my gosh, yeah!  I tried to move there in 2003 and, unfortunately, there’s just a series of events that prevented that.  Yeah, such a great city. And, so anyway, you moved there. You’ve been very active from a career perspective as an advisor, Blink Insights, Mobile Marketing Research Association and now, most recently, Chairman of SampleCon.  Can you talk to me a little bit about what you get out of that? Like what the motivation is?

[09:37]

Yeah, I think at the core of it I really do like collaborating and working with other people.  I think that’s part of the joy in work, is the people you get to interact with and, ultimately, what groups of people can contribute and accomplish together.  And so it’s satisfying to be able to move the needle and see how… For example, on SampleCon, we can move the industry together and be able to collaborate and communicate on hot topics and try to resolve some of those issues.  So, that’s really the core of it. It’s something that I’m passionate about. Obviously, I get paid for many of the roles that I take, but it is a form of giving back and giving time to different projects and issues. I’ve certainly had the benefit of people advising me, and so it’s something that I like to do as well.    

[10:32]

What are you seeing as some of the hot topics that are coming out of the sampling world?   

[10:39]

There has been so much buzz about blockchain; you can’t really get away from that topic.  I think there’s a lot of interesting initiatives around trying to get all the stake holders aligned in the research value chain, if you will, from the end client to the research agencies to the sample providers.  So, really taking it down to a very basic level and saying, “Look, at the end of the day, you want to keep respondents engaged; you want to care about their experience.” To do that, you have to understand their experience.  Go backwards and balance the research objectives and designs to actually ensure that from happening. And, obviously, there are other things at play where clients are getting other sources of data because of the… I’m not going to say that right [tries to say “digitization”] because of the digital… all this access to information that clients have.  There’s a question about the growth or the health of online survey data collection. Those are just to name a few; there’s many more.

[11:53]

Yeah, of course.  So, blockchain is super interesting for me right now.  I’m reading a lot about it, been exposed to it. In a large way, most recently in February at the IIEX Conference in Atlanta, one thing that really struck me was, unlike online data collection where it was really clear there was a competitor, which was traditional methodologies in data collection – I have not (and I’m sure it’s just my intellectual capacity) I have not been able to connect:  Is blockchain just a technology or is it actually going to be a technology that companies like yours adopts, which is to say basically a better panel management system or is it actually going to be a competitive set to the existing sample framework?

[12:59]

Yeah, it’s interesting.  I’d look at it in a couple different ways.  To be honest, I haven’t totally figured it out either.  We continue to evaluate and talk to different companies in the industry.  I think from the back-end perspective, there’s certainly a lot of efficiency in terms of ensuring that there’s not duplication in the data sets, given the fact that the respondent can’t answer surveys multiple times.  So there’s less kind of fraud in the system as it relates to blockchain. In terms of the user experience, what I see is that, if you can store data that a user responds to at any given time, they don’t have to waste their time again to answer the same questions again.  They can monetize those responses and gain some benefit from it. I think that’s kind of where I am right now in terms of at least the benefit for a respondent. I think, as an industry, we always hear about a panelist being (I don’t know what the latest number is) maybe six panels at any given time.  So on the back end, you can clearly see the benefit because that duplication will be relieved. I believe that’s the case. Again, this is my knowledge, thus far… I’m not an expert in blockchain, but from what I can gather.

[14:36]

Yeah, that’s exactly my view on it.  And when I talk to leaders in the space – like yourself – one of two things happen:  either they frame it, “Is it a better, improving overall quality?”, which is something we’ve seen.  There’s been a couple of different programs and solutions that have entered our space that have tried to address that.  So, is it better there or is it this whole new thing? I just really struggle with understanding: when the technology is adopted, what’s the consumption like?  What’s that dollar? Where’s the dollar coming from? Is it a new dollar or is it coming from an existing, budgeted dollar that was going to be spent with – pick the sample company, right?     

[15:26]

Yeah, I think that’s a very fair question.  I think it gets interesting when you start layering in the passive data from the blockchain.  Again, the challenge there and/or opportunity is: you know we already have passive data access, and clients are still struggling on what to do with all that data.  So, at the end of the day, it sounds fantastic that you can get all this information about a consumer respondent; there are so many other things beyond that that we have to figure out once we have access to that data.

[16:03]

Yeah, this is exactly the point, right?  Because you and I have been using… I’ve been using transactional and behavioral data for twenty years.  I mean there’s no… [laughter] It’s not like, “Wow, now I can do this!” Maybe the benefit then really with blockchain winds up being the overall efficiency gained because you have an existing…  You know the problem is always taking disparate data sources and combining them in a meaningful way in context of time and budget. So maybe that’s the benefit that drives the overall adoption of blockchain, in which case…  Obviously, it feels like it’s just a technology enabler similar to the internet, but not this new thing, similar to online surveys.

[16:52]

Yeah, I would agree.  It feels like that. I think that it’s going to make us work smarter, be more efficient.  I don’t see this as a net new, if you will, in terms of our industry.

[17:07]

So, let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about what’s keeping the lights on:  Paradigm Sample. Why did you start that company? What was the market gap that you sought to fill?

[17:21]

So, I lived the market gap.  I actually was at IBM. And we were buying millions and millions of dollars of sample, and we ran into a major data quality issue with a tracking study.  And we started picking it apart and really looking at it. I think it was the first time that we went beyond the research agency and actually had sample companies come in because the discrepancy of the data was so big that we really had to get to the source or the root cause of it.  And we realized quickly that there was really no transparency. It was the wild, wild West. We couldn’t get a sense of confidence around what we were buying. And it made me realize there is a big gap here in the sense that the way to operate, and the way to consult, and the way to help clients is really to partner with them and to be able to provide the best solutions to a client, and know what you’re buying and know what you are selling.  It sounds so basic, but that experience was about six months of time, talking to multiple sample companies and really realizing that… You know the sample companies at that time were really about eyeballs and numbers; there wasn’t a research-driven lens to sampling. At least that was my experience at IBM. I don’t mean to cast that doubt for the whole industry at the time, but that was our experience at IBM.

[18:59]

Yeah, right, and I get that.  I think that’s fairly ubiquitous across the board then and, in many cases, even now.  The end consumer of the insights, which is obviously the brands, are largely blind to the panelists, right?  This sort of interesting journey that data goes through, and it’s always been like that, which, of course, you’re aware of.  Thinking about in-mall intercepts, there was so much fraud in that space. I know that because I did in-mall intercepts. [laughter]  I got to see and manage that first hand. The only way you could root that out going to in-mall intercepts… And for those who don’t know in-mall intercepts are the people with clipboards and paper-based surveys.  (Now they have tablets.) They would literally intercept people in malls, and malls were things that we had before Amazon. So, playing it kind of backwards now, for us that data quality had to be addressed by the manager at the mall floor, right?  It could not be addressed too far upstream. Whether it’s the research supplier or the brand, that ship had already sailed, right? You can’t go back into the field; the money had already been spent, whatever. So, the executive needed decisions. So it makes sense then that you saw that as a market opportunity.  Do you think that brands, not brands per se, but all of us even anybody in insights is going to then experience further removal from the respondent with the adoption of marketplaces, sample marketplaces?     

[20:57]   

That’s a good question.  Potentially, potentially.  It just depends on the culture of research within a brand organization, right?  I did an interview with a woman at P&G, and she said she actually extends all her timelines for her projects because she goes row by row to look at the quality of the data because they’re making decisions about products that are going to be designed in the future.  I think other companies, they want it fast and they want it cheap. It’s not about sourcing or quality of the panels; it’s how quickly they can get that information and at what cost. So I really do think it depends on the culture orientation of the brands in terms of how they embrace research – and, fundamentally, how they look at data.      

[21:52]

We’re seeing a lot of tools enter the marketplace – my gosh, I want to say for the last three years – that are leveraging machine learning in AI to create qualitative scale opportunities, which are unearthing, making it more apparent that there are some data quality issues that still persist in the sampling space.  Are you seeing qualitative as a growing segment in the sampling space?

[22:27]

I do, definitely.  It’s funny ‘cause It’s a little bit of a paradox.  As we have access to more and more data, the qualitative piece plays even more of an important role because I think it brings that data to life.  So from a sample or panel company, we’re definitely seeing more and more needs around supporting qualitative research, whether it’s video or if it’s communities.  I think that qualitative piece brings the customer alive within an organization, and so I can understand why that’s happening.

[23:05]

Yeah, for sure.  The scale side of it is interesting too.  I don’t know that there is (again this is just my lack of visibility), I don’t know that there is a specialized, qualitative panel in the marketplace.

[23:20]

I don’t know either.  I don’t think there is.  I think right now the way that it’s handled is that …  And every client is different. So they have certain needs and, depending on what role you play in the industry and the type of panel you have and panelists in terms of what they want to do, you kind of recruit across multiple panels to meet that qualitative need.  I don’t think there is a qualitative panel per se.  Honestly, it’s probably the focus group facilities that have all these lists of people who participate in focus groups.  

[23:57]

Yeah, that’s true.  Maybe a company like Schlesinger or others that might have that sort of niche, niche opportunity.  Infinity Squared Ventures – tell us a little bit about that and what your impetus was for starting it.

[24:11]

After founding Paradigm and growing and building some technology, I really realized – and even through my experience when I was at the NPD group – I really love the early stages of a company and helping accelerate innovation, entrepreneurship and so, starting that was just a platform to help other entrepreneurs, other business leaders, kind of help them with the growth of their business from all aspects of operations:  either it’s helping with product concepts, product development to potentially helping them figure out… I think every P&L has a story, and so, “What is the story of your P&L and where do you want that story to be?” … and help kind of peel back the onion.

[24:59]

Podcasts are growing, right?  We talked about that at the beginning, and it got a lot of runway.  I was early in the web sharing space. And then, of course, CEO of FocusVision, I got a big indoctrination on video conferencing, etc.  Webinars, they continue to be the number-one way that we communicate inside of our industry to our constituents, whether it’s brands or each other, I guess.  But what’s interesting about podcasts… I’m feeling like there will be a shift away from the traditional webinar to podcasts, right? There’s a lot of benefits: the evergreen nature of podcasts and then also the niche (brand, sorry) communities you can develop, being two really obvious ones.  And that was really for me one of the reasons I decided to start the podcast. For you, what was that reason why and then how has it evolved over the last year?

[26:12]

So, in all honesty, it started doing it because you hear from everybody to increase your brand in the industry.  You should be writing a blog and you should be producing content. I started writing… I’m like there is no way I’m going to be able to sustain this.  You call it early. I’m going to start writing like one or two blogs and I’ll be done. But what I love is people, and I love talking to people. And so I decided to start a podcast.  That was kind of the early reasons as to why I started, and now to me I feel like there is so much change going on in the industry that it’s a platform to at least share with our industry what different players are doing and kind of building a story and, hopefully, for everybody who can’t get to a conference, they can get bits and pieces through the podcast and understand what’s happening by the different talks and interviews that I do.  

[27:09]

Yeah, totally.  I see in my world view in the next…  As soon as 2019, I’d be surprised if major conferences like TMRE and IIEX and whatever don’t have – SMR, etc.- a podcast on site, whether it’s exhibitors or speakers are being interviewed.  

[27:37]

I totally agree with you because you just get so much more mileage out of the content from that conference.

[27:42]

Totally, and it adds free value to the community.  You think about I was able to hear Beth Comstock at TMRE.  It was a fantastic, motivational speech. My audience I think would really enjoy hearing it.  It would be great to be able to port that content, or a portion of it, into a podcast format, right?, for general consumption.  And what’s interesting is this whole subscribe option, right? So you can either one-and-done or, if you really like the content of the show over time and want to add it to your regular consumption.  It’s a really neat opt-in/opt-out mechanism.

[28:24]

And you know what else is really cool is that the people…  You know that in companies not everybody gets to go to the show.  So this breaks down hierarchy as well and function. Anybody who wants to invest in themselves, who wants to know about the industry can listen and know potentially more than others who are not investing in themselves and learning about the industry.  So I really like that element. I feel like everybody is empowered to learn.

[28:50]

Totally.  It’s so powerful.

[28:53]

And actually, I sure, Jamin, you’ve thought about this.  There are so many creative ways that you could change this up, right?  You could have a co-host one time; you could do a series. There’s so many different options you can think through as it relates to keep it creative and fun as well.     

[29:10]

Yeah, and you know you listen to some of the older podcasts (and I mean absolutely no disrespect), but they have not adopted some of the newer approaches.  So it is two people sitting around talking about sports but really the content is about, or their venue is supposed to be talking about data handling or whatever it is, which is again very early stage as opposed to on point, clear CTAs, and then really driving the human interest element of things.  I’m not saying that that’s a bad role; in fact, I even subscribe to one just ‘cause I like to listen to the two guys talk. That’s weird. But, anyway, you get the point. Yeah, it’s definitely an evolution.

[29:49]

I loved the interview that you did with the woman last week, the high school student.

[27:54]   

Oh, Gaby.  Wasn’t that great?

[29:55]

In fact, I’ll tell you my daughter and I (my daughter’s in high school) were listening.  And I said, “Would you do an interview like that?” She’s like, “She’s really nervous.”

I go, “But she’s so good.”  Yeah, it was great; it was nice.  We could both listen to it.

[30:08]

Gosh, thank you for that!  That was my favorite interview.  You’ve got a seventeen-year-old, who’s raised by her grandparents in one of the poorest zip codes in America, and she’s starting a business.  You know what I mean? It’s just so powerful.

[30:26]

It really is.  It’s powerful. It’s also like you feel like there’s hope.  You feel like, you know, there’s good stuff happening.

[30:33]

I am going to be honest:  I have not bought her box yet.  I am going to do that today. Thanks for the reminder.  I need to do that. Anyway, so…

[30:43]

I’m going to buy one.

[30:43]

[laughter]  Let’s do that, you and I together.  Oh, my gosh, what a miss! Anyways, maybe we should do that as like a holiday gift.

[30:52]

Holiday gift, yeah.  That’s a good idea.  

[30:55]

Totally, and we could co-promote our podcasts.

[30:57]

Yeah, I like that.  We’ll follow up on that.

[31:00]

Yeah, definitely follow up on that.  You’re a very successful founder, CEO, advisor.  What is one of the secrets that you employ that drives growth, profitability or success of your company?

[31:16]

Learning, invested learning.  Stay fresh. You never arrive; you’re always on a journey.  Listen to people, all points of views. Don’t assume you know the answer.  I think you got to measure what you want to manage. You can’t hope and dream and pray.  You kind of have to say, “OK, this is what I want to do,” and again measure it accordingly.

Those are some of the things that come to mind.

[31:43]

Yeah, that’s a really good one.  I want to dive in on the “listen” part.  Do you have any specific examples, either good or bad, where maybe you’ve had a personal experience or connection to that?  

[31:55]

Yeah, it’s funny ‘cause when you look back in your career, you kind of see a different version of yourself.  And I recall many times when my manager, my boss would give me feedback, and I wasn’t open to it. I really wasn’t.  And now, looking back, I was like, “Wow! They were really trying to help me. Like that was really good feedback I got.”  And I just wasn’t open to listening. So now, fast forward, when employees give me feedback and I’m not necessarily crazy about hearing it, I really try to stay open to it because they’re trying to give me information that a lot of times you don’t want to hear ‘cause you got ten other million things on your plate.  But it’s valuable to that person and, hence, it has to be valuable to the company.

[32:44]

Yeah, totally.  I mean one – there’s humility injected, but the second part of it is the validation, right?  Because a lot of times we’ll behave, or I’ll behave… I mean don’t hear what I’m not saying…  But I’m not behaving the best way I could, right? So I might be short with an employee or, just because I’m under pressure.  Now I’m justifying it. See I always default to the “why,” but the problem is that I just need to shut up and acknowledge that and then think about how I can change or adapt if it’s appropriate.

[33:19]

Exactly, yeah.  And I always say from a customer point of view or a partner point of view, it is amazing when they give you critical feedback because they have the option to defect from you and not say anything.  So those are golden nuggets that they’re giving you a second chance to improve and to partner. So I’m grateful when clients speak up and talk and are critical. And the great feedback is good too, but it’s that stuff that’s hard to listen to that’s really valuable.

[33:58]

Yeah, when the employee provides that, it’s a lot like…  Listening to you talk, it kind of reminds me of that… Ron Franscella gave me a piece of advice very early in my career, which is when a customer starts negotiating, they’re buying.  And so, it is the same thing, right: it’s a buy-in conversation. So what do you see as three characteristics of an all-star employee?

[34:22]

So one is…  I believe in this notion that you have to continuously learn.  It’s not a manager’s or boss’s job to ensure that you’re learning.  It’s basically investing in yourself to continue on the journey of learning.  I do think a lot of things is mindset. I love that book Growth Mindset versus the fixed mindset.  I so believe in that growth mindset, which encompasses the learning, which encompasses the attitude, right, the perspective of being realistic but still optimistic.  And I think just working hard – there’s nothing wrong with working hard.

[35:05]

OK, I think the word “work” has been trumped over the last decade by this term “hustle.”  

[35:14]

OK, [laughs] yes.  

[35:16]

And I hate the word “hustle.”  I use it sometimes, but I hate the word “hustle” because it’s like tangibly different for me.

[35:26]

Well, “hustle” almost feels like…  It doesn’t feel like you’re really… like that grit is there.  It’s like, “I’m trying to get by. I’m trying to make a buck.” At least, that’s what comes to mind for me.   

[35:37]

Totally, totally.  It has a completely different connotation whereas “work” is something…  And it also feels sales-zy, to your point, “Make a buck.” But “#work” I mean, [laughter] I mean it’s about the basic stuff.  My late grandfather gave me this piece of advice right when I first got a professional job. He said, “Jamin, the most important thing for you is that you always beat your boss into work and you never leave before he leaves.”  [laughs] It’s just like super basic stuff, but anyways that’s my rant on work. Thanks for bringing that up.

[36:21]

You know I think working hard is underrated.  I mean I’m not saying that you have to work around the clock, 24 hours a day, but it builds really strong character.    

[36:32]

Yeah, it totally does.  And, along side that, it brings this point that we addressed with your 13-year-old self.  It brings the confidence that you can do it. If you don’t have to put your shoulder to the plow and get the work done, you don’t know that you can do it.  And so that’s always… That’s just a naggy sort of piece in the back of your mind: something that will hold you back or help you cave, give you an excuse to cave when the times get tough.

[37:04]

So true.  

[37:05]

Like we’re going to be OK, no matter what happens.  You know what I’m saying? You and I are going to be OK. 

[37:10]

We’ll figure it out.  

[37:11]

Totally, ‘cause I know how to mow lawns.  I swear to God I’m really good at that, right?  You know what I mean? And I know how to walk around my block and knock on doors until they’re so tired of seeing me they pay me to mow their lawn.  Alright, so you work with all different types of companies. What are you seeing as a macro-trend in our insights space?

[37:33]

So, I think this was an Aha-moment for me a couple weeks ago.  It might sound silly, but we as an industry have been so much on the defense about making sure we’re adding value and we’re storytelling, with automation, with artificial intelligence, the amount of time our industry puts toward putting research together has shifted dramatically.  All of a sudden, we’re like, “Oh, wait, we can actually analyze data; we can create the insights.” Simultaneously, what I’m realizing is that there’s a whole other workflow that’s happening in brands. And that is in the analytic space. And the brands are building these different organizations within their company where insights isn’t necessarily being included.  And I think that has a huge factor on our industry. I don’t have an answer for it, but it feels as if bets are being placed in those different departments or divisions in brand companies. And insights, as researchers and companies that provide insight, you have to figure out how to get to the table there.

[38:49]

Answering that question is massively important.  It’s just so… And I like your workflow connection because that’s exactly what’s happened, right?  As technology continues to bring automation and time-savings and lowering cost to how people do their job, you see UX departments or product managers employing various types of…  even free survey tools or other tools (it doesn’t have to be surveys, right?) or just using Webex to conduct IDIs. And it’s completely usurping the traditional insights function inside of the organization

[39:39]

I was going to say, personality-wise, there’s not a ton of extroverts in our industry that will pound on the table and say, “Wait a second.  Let’s try to figure this out.” So we have to think through that. And how do we ensure that that value of the customer and owning that process doesn’t go away.     

[40:02]

Were you able to listen to the interview I did with Lori Iventosch at GoDaddy?

[40:10]

I listened to some of it.  

[40:11]

So, this subject came up in that interview.  At least, I think it made it in the interview; maybe it didn’t post.  Market research and UX do sit beside each other inside of the organization, right.  But what’s interesting is I think more commonly in the brands I’ve been exposed to, UX or data scientists are sitting outside of the market research function, which is a whole other layer that should be addressed because then you start thinking…  because both are doing the same stuff. They’re doing different stuff but there is definitely some overlap in that venn diagram. I think it’s exciting for us when you see a company like Qualtrics filing their IPO. The reason that they’re getting the valuations and growth is because they’ve stepped out of the traditional market research total addressable market.  So that’s just broadly creating a ton of opportunities that we just simply as an industry have not been exposed to. How is Data Gurus offering value to market researchers right now?

[41:25]

I think it is providing different aspects and perspectives on the data ecosystem.  You can hear about what a research director at Microsoft… What are some of the challenges they might have… or P&G…  and understand their world to understanding the perspective of a CMO, right? We keep talking about we got to get to the C-Suite.  Well, what’s their day like? And how does research fit into it? You layer that on with new technologies. How is AI impacting the industry?  How’s the sample industry changing and shifting? Blockchain. It’s really… My goal is to provide a platform of learning and ask questions that I want to know and, hopefully, other people want to know as well.     

[42:19]

I love that.  So, in a lot of ways, what you are doing is curating the viewpoints of brands and agencies and then bringing those together for a more fulsome conversation.   

[42:29]

Yes, yes.  I like the way you said that

[42:32]

My guest today has been Sima Vasa, founder or Paradigm Sample and host of Data Gurus podcast.  Sima, thank you very much for being on the Happy Market Research podcast today.

[42:41]

Thank you so much, Jamin.  I loved it, and I can’t wait to have you on Data Gurus.

[42:44]

I can’t wait too.  

[42:48]

Next time on the Happy Market Research Podcast, Robert Porter, CEO of Research America breaks down how he overcame significant personal adversity and provides us all on the perspective of positivity and gratitude that you’ll find refreshing and impactful.  Hope you tune in.