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Nine in 10 market research decision-makers believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will have a significant impact on the industry within 5 years, but most don’t know what that impact will look like, according to a report from Qualtrics [download page]. Even so, they remain largely positive about the types of effects that potentially will come.

Indeed, fully 93% believe that AI is an opportunity for the market-research industry as opposed to a threat (7%), and 8 in 10 likewise agree that AI will have a positive effect on the industry as opposed to lacking an impact (10%) or having a negative one (10%).

Yet separate results call into question just how positive that impact will be, as there are conflicting feelings about the industry. On the one hand, more respondents feel that AI will reduce (35%) the number of market research jobs than create more (26%). On the other hand, they are more likely to believe the market-research industry will expand (52%) than contract (11%) as a result of AI.

Perhaps market researchers feel that the number of jobs will decline, but that projects will carry a higher price? They certainly seem to think that AI has the potential to increase the quality of market research: three-quarters believe that the data produced through AI will be more accurate than it is today.

So which technologies will most impact the market-research industry? According to the 250 market research decision-makers surveyed, the top 5 will be:

  • Advanced data analysis (95%);
  • Automated stats analysis (94%);
  • Natural language processing (73%);
  • Text analysis (71%); and
  • Internet of Things (54%).

The near-ubiquitous response surrounding advanced data and automated stats analyses suggests that some particular jobs might be in trouble… Indeed, virtually all respondents feel that Statisticians (95%) and Research Analysts (94%) are among the positions most likely to be replaced by AI within 10 years.

Natural language processing, for its part, is projected to have an especially large impact on the Education, Financial Services, Retail and High Tech sectors. Respondents estimate that close to one-quarter of surveys (currently in text) could be spoken to a digital assistant within 5 years. There is some skepticism as to their near-term quality, though: only one-third feel they will be a better experience for respondents than typed surveys (which would be a welcome development), and just one-quarter feel they’ll yield higher data quality.

Meanwhile, the technologies that researches believe will least impact the industry are:

  • Survey design tools (91%);
  • Chatbots like Facebook Messenger (86%);
  • Virtual reality (86%);
  • Facial recognition (86%); and
  • Basic data analysis (73%).

Add it all up, and these are the tasks that AI is most likely to take over:

  • Determining sample sizes (72% believing within 5 years; 77% within 10 years);
  • Reading open-ended responses (62% and 72%, respectfully);
  • Running surveys (55% and 70%, respectively);
  • Statistical analysis (48% and 63%, respectively); and
  • Finding insights in feedback data (35% and 55%, respectively).

The full report is available to download here.

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