Each Friday we bring you the FreshMinds Friday picks – ideas to help you make the most of digital technologies and to understand how they are helping brands to grow and innovate. This week we’re looking at five thought leaders who are shaping the future of market research including Nate Silver, Colin Strong, Leonard Murphy, Eric Ries and Jeremiah Owyang. Not all of them come from a traditional market research background but their work, thinking and analysis tells us much about how market research should change.

Leonard Murphy

Leonard Murphy has worked in market research for over a decade and is the editor of The GreenBook blog. The blog, as its subtitle ‘charting the future of market research’ suggests, is essential reading for anyone wanting to stay one step ahead of the latest industry trends. Not content with the traditional methods of doing research, the blog seeks to understand the trends and technologies disrupting our industry and suggests ways in which we need to adapt in response to the changing landscape. With top posts including ‘Five Things That Will Become Obsolete in MR Sooner Than you Think’ and ‘Millennials Will Disrupt Consumer Research. Here’s How …’ the blog is forward-thinking and provocative, forcing researchers to consider how market research needs to change if it’s to remain useful in future.

Jeremiah Owyang

At FreshMinds, we’ve been avid readers of Jeremiah’s blog for many years. Focused on helping companies understand how to use web technologies to best connect with consumers, a visit to his website is a must for any market researcher. His blog initially focused on the customer experience and social business, but with Jeremiah at the cutting edge of new digital technologies and trends, it’s now the place to find out about the emerging collaborative economy and the opportunities and challenges it presents for brands.

Eric Ries

Serial entrepreneur Eric Ries is the author of The Lean Start-Up. The book builds on his philosophy, first expounded in his blog, Start Up Lessons Learned, of how to build a successful start-up in today’s society. Instead of the traditional model of spending months perfecting a product before its launch, he advocates taking a lean approach, developing a minimal viable product that can be taken to market to test a hypothesis and then rapidly iterated once in field, using a test-measure-learn approach. With companies like Dropbox going from tiny start-ups to billion dollar companies by following this philosophy, Ries’ argument about how to create rapid growth in today’s day and age is convincing and one that market researchers should take note of.

Nate Silver

Statistician Nate Silver first rose to prominence after he developed PECOTA, a system that forecasts the career paths of US baseball players. But he really made his name by turning his hand to predicting the outcome of elections. In 2008, he correctly predicted how 49 of 50 states would vote in the US presidential election and in 2012, he went one better, achieving the full house. That’s all very well and good but what does it have to do with market research? As an industry, we can learn a lot from Nate’s methods. He’s proven that by harnessing big data sets and merging them together, it’s possible not only to understand more about people’s behaviour but use this to predict how they will act in future. With consumers now producing more data than ever before, this is an area that we, as researchers, should be exploring. With this in mind Nate Silver’s blog, Five Thirty Eight, and book, The Signal and The Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction, are definitely worth reading.

Colin Strong

Colin Strong is the MD, Business and Technology at GfK. He’s a prolific contributor to thought leadership on the future of market research and regularly writes for the Huffington Post and Research Live. Colin’s perspective on big data and how it can be harnessed for the purpose of market research is particularly refreshing. Whilst many have simply jumped on the big data bandwagon without giving its application enough consideration, Colin’s approach is more measured, really thinking through the best practice of using big data for the purpose of research, to combat its pitfalls and ensure we gain real value.

And finally…

I know I said I’d keep it to five thought leaders but, and I’m probably biased, but I should also mention our own CEO Caroline Plumb who’s recently spoken across the world, from Bolton to Brunei, about the industry’s future. Advocating a leaner approach to market research, her recent blog post on why the market research industry needs to change is worth a read.

Are there any thoughts leaders on this topic we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments below.