Ep. 315 – Adam Froman, Founder & CEO of Delvinia, on how Amplify Summit is Helping Market Researchers Adapt to the New World

My guest today is Adam Froman, Founder & CEO of Delvinia. 

Founded in 1998, Delvinia is a Canadian based Group of Companies that provide technology-enabled consumer insight and data collection solutions including Methodify, AskingCanadians, AskingAmericans, and CRIS.

Adam a Canadian-based entrepreneur, operator, and investor. According to Adam, we are in the midst of a digital transformation in Market Research that Delvinia has been involved in for over 20 years. He has made investments in Measure Protocol, Personal Panels, and the acquisition of CRIS. 

Register for Amplify: https://www.delvinia.com/amplify/ 

Find Adam Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamfroman 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/adamfroman 

Website: https://www.delvinia.com/ 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

Music: 

β€œClap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com 

Epidemic Sound: https://www.epidemicsound.com/Β 


[00:00:00]

Jamin: Hi. I’m Jamin and you’re listening to the Happy Market Research podcast. My guest today is Adam Froman, founder and CEO of Delvinia. Founded in 1998, Delvinia is a Canadian-based group of companies that provide technology-enabled customer insight and data collection solutions, including Methodify, AskingCanadians, Asking Americans, and CRS. Adam is a Canadian-based entrepreneur, operator, and investor. According to Adam, we are in the midst of a digital transformation in market research that Delvinia has been involved in for over 20 years. He has made investments in measure protocol, personal panels, and the acquisition of CRIS, C-R-I-S. Adam, thanks for joining me today on the Happy Market Research podcast.

[00:00:47]

Adam: Thank you, Jamin. I’m really, really, really, really, really, really happy to be here to do this. It’s great to see someone who enjoys what they do as much as I do.

[00:00:59]

Jamin: I really appreciate it. Let’s start with our kind of contextual question. Tell us a little bit about your parents and how they informed your current career.

[00:01:08]

Adam: My parents, who are – Thankfully, I still have my mom. She’s 88. I lost my father two years ago. If I would summarize my parents, it would be unconditional support. My parents were in real estate and property management in Ottawa, Canada for many years. Classic small-city, small-Jewish-community parents, bringing you up in the diaspora of the world, trying to keep onto your Jewish culture, which interestingly enough, being the baby in my family, I got to kind of pursue my own path after my sister and brother went down theirs. I think what really demonstrates my parents and who they are as sort of business people and entrepreneurs was that when my brother at 19 decided he wanted to go and become a jazz drummer – And for Jewish parents, you’re not gonna be a lawyer or a doctor or go to university for that. And he went to the U.S. to Berklee College of Music and became a jazz drummer. He’s a teacher now. And they just supported him with his passion. So when I came out of school, I fumbled after I did my MBA. And it was 1992. It was a recession. But I had this passion called multimedia at the time. And they unconditionally supported my journey. My parents still don’t know what I do to this day. They know I deal with something in technology, but they’ve always been very proud of me and have supported everything I’ve done. And it’s been a foundation that has gotten me through some incredible difficult times. But also it’s really inspired me to, when I do things well, it keeps a humility and a desire to make sure I’m taking care of those around me.

[00:02:51]

Jamin: How has that impacted your management style?

[00:02:55]

Adam: I think my management style – I call it somewhat unique. Trust and loyalty are very important to me in the sense of you have to earn trust and be very loyal to those who trust you. My parents’ trust is something that always had to be end. It wasn’t just something that you expected because you were in a certain role. So my management style has been that I care very much about the people around me-sometimes too much. I’m very loyal to them. If they’re willing to trust in my judgment and my decision-making process, then they will have my unconditional trust to support them in what they do. And at times, I’d say one of my greatest shortfalls is that I care too much. So my style is very much “suck it up, buttercup”. If something goes wrong, you can feel the fall when something doesn’t work out, but get up and just keep fighting on. And my parents taught me that. But that also I find sort of runs people over and not everyone can handle that much love and support when I’m saying, “Just get up but I’m here beside you.” But it’s really – My management style is very committed, very supportive. I think because of my experience of building the company, I’m pretty fearless when it comes to business. Nothing really scares me. I’m willing to walk into any situation and believe that I can succeed at it and I’m not afraid. Even if there’s a challenge in terms of nothing comes easy, but helping others lead by example, build your trust within your group, and be really loyal to those around you. And that’s how I would summarize my management style.

[00:04:39]

Jamin: Today I should mention is November 4th. Yesterday was Super Tuesday in the United States. And I tell you, I wasn’t sure what I was gonna wake up to this morning. It turns out it looks like it’s just gonna be a little bit longer process. What is the view from Canada?

[00:04:56]

Adam: The view in general from Canada is I’d say a relief that we’re Canadians and that we’re in Canada. We don’t understand how – We have many of our own challenges. We have our issues with systemic violence and racism and etc. But we don’t have the divisiveness that we’re watching and observing in the U.S. And I think where Canadians have been sitting back and watching the election is that whether you support the policies of a Donald Trump or you support the policies of a Joe Biden, it’s that sense of decency that Canadians really aspire to and that’s sort of the fabric of who we are. We’re struggling with that. We’re struggling with, given our sense of decency and respect for others, that the race is so tight. And because we’re so integrated in the fabric of the U.S. as your northern partner, we really feel for the struggle that the nation is going through. And I think there’s an overall sadness that’s going on here towards what the average American is going through during this election. It’s really troubling for us. And we’re feeling it. Although this isn’t what governs our country, but it definitely affects us.

[00:06:21]

Jamin: I was talking yesterday with Claudia Kotchka, and she’s on the board of directors for Canadian-based company Loblaw’s, which I’m sure you are aware of. They have 200,000 employees in Canada. And they were very quick in the COVID crisis to invest in employee safety because that’s one of their core values and then customer safety, which is their second core value. And she was talking to me about the importance of being value-driven as opposed to bottom-line driven. And I think maybe what you’re articulating or at least what I’m hearing anyway that resonates with me is that desire to do what’s right and actually commitment to do what’s right because it’s in line with your values as opposed to what is gonna drive the best financial returns for the quarter.

[00:07:16]

Adam: I think, on one level, I would completely agree with you and I think that is, for many big Canadian corporations, that’s relevant and that’s consistent with them. I’d say I represent more of the scaling technology community. I’m part of a group of 150 CEOs in Canada of scaling tech firms that are growing internationally that are doing well, and we probably have much more of a mindset of an American company where we’re really about wealth creation that leads to job creation but with a Canadian value system. So taking care of our – Our Number 1 priority when the pandemic hit was we went remote. I anticipated – I had heard word that the Prime Minister was gonna close our airports on March 16th, and I was moving my daughter into school on March 15th. Or actually, I was moving her home from college. And I caught wind of this and I got on a call with my executive team that morning from my daughter’s college and then driving home, I had an all-manager’s meeting to say, “We’re going remote tomorrow.” And we just made that decision because we wanted to deal with the safety and the mental health of our staff. So that’s very important. But at the same time, we had to balance that with “you’re a technology company”. We need to be successful and profitable and be able to keep running to create the jobs of the future. And most of us, you make a dollar and you spend two because you’re actually growing. Whereas a lot of the big companies like Loblaw’s are big, stable, public companies that they have a different public mandate. So I agree with that on the corporate level, but definitely on the entrepreneurial level, it’s probably less of an easy balance but more of a – You have to work at the balance between focused on the bottom line as well as taking care of your staff. You don’t compromise it, but it gives you more sleepless nights for sure.

[00:09:21]

Jamin: Yeah. Yeah. Because money doesn’t provide security for those jobs. Amplify is a 24-hour, global insights summit. It is happening on November 12th and 13th. This is being put on by Delvinia. This has been the year of virtual conferences. I’m trying to remember if you and I had dinner in Q1 this year or if it was in Q4 of last year. I can’t remember which. But it was close to if not the last conference I went to.

[00:09:49]

Adam: I think it was December in Los Angeles.

[00:09:50]

Jamin: It was. That’s right. So it would’ve been the last conference I went to. That’s right. All of a sudden, everything’s kind of turned on its head and now everybody’s moved to these digital conferences. I was really, really curious. Why did you guys decide to launch one?

[00:10:04]

Adam: I think everyone is trying to find innovative ways to market themselves when you can’t physically go to those regions. Even when you’re in those regions, you’re limited to still remote workforce. We’ve been hiring a lot of people in the U.S., but they’re still working remotely. They can’t do face to face. And as we’re trying to expand our brand and our business internationally, you can’t go to conferences. So there have been a number of conferences – I think we’ve participated in most of the conferences. What we’ve observed on the messaging is it’s been more a scramble to deliver a virtual conference for a conference company to transition and less really thinking through the content. And I think what’s interesting is when Zappi and Vox Pops did theirs in March and they got a huge amount of attention and a great audience because they were sort of the first out of the gate. And then you saw sort of GreenBook and Insights Association and Quirks and TMRE and everyone putting on their own. And at varying levels of enjoyment and content. When we wanted to kind of step in and do something to continue to get our message across, there’s a few things that sort of drive our passion. One is innovation. And really, we’re very much an innovation-driven organization. It’s been at the root of what we do. We put our money where our mouth is, as you know. We invest in things. We invest in ourselves. We’re staying ahead of the industry because the industry tends to lag. So we’ve met a lot of really interesting people along the way and we said, “We can bring content that isn’t normally what a market research industry would have.” Typically a lot of the same people are delivering the insight. But because our roots are digital, we’re heavy in innovation, we wanted to take a different approach. The next one is we now know how mind-numbing these conferences can be sitting at your computer. So we said, “How can we do a global conference but do it in 24 hours.” So we’ll have 24 hours of content. So basically, we’re looking at four time zones to do it in and then we’re delivering content. So if you’re up at 2:30 in the morning and you’re bored, you can listen to it. Or there’s something you want to hear that you wouldn’t have normally heard or from around the world, there’s a time zone for it. So we wanted to kind of have a different number to hook. And because we’re not a conference company, putting on a multi-day conference is massive. So we thought if we could pull this interesting, 24-hour summit with really great content, that would be something different. So that’s the first thing. The second thing was we like to give back, and we know that this year has been incredibly challenging. A lot of people have been laid off. A lot of companies are struggling and people are being forced to reinvent themselves. And we said, “You know what?” Not that we’re – Like everybody else, we’re finding our challenges through this. But how do we provide a vehicle similar to my friend, Merrill Dubrow, put together the Internet resource, the insight resource guide for people looking for jobs? Which I thought was a wonderful initiative. We wanted to do something to give back and help those who are struggling. And look, your podcast captures a lot of people that are looking for jobs and trying to find their way. So it’s unbelievable. I don’t know if there’s something that I’ve ever seen where we’ve actually been able to amass 60 mentors to take five minutes in different groups to be a mentor to people – It’s gonna be 50 or 60 mentees that have signed up. It’s already sold out. To give them perspective, to give them inspiration, and to give them ideas of how they can reinvent themselves. So that’s part of our genuine give-back. And then, the third thing is I’m on the board of the MREF, and that’s the Market Research Education Foundation. And the reason I went on the board was Steve Schlesinger had said to me, “Hey, come out to this event.” And it was really the idea was the market research industry giving back. And what I observed is we really need to keep that organization to help the market research industry to come together to make a difference in the world. So we added a donation component with us and our partner, and I’d be remiss to say – When we decided to do this globally, we wanted a partner to do it with us to help promote it and be part of it. And the Schlesinger Group and Steve have been incredible. They are already global. They’ve been doing incredible things around the world and you’ve seen the acquisitions he’s making. And he jumped at the opportunity to partner with us because he has the same values as an organization. So sort of to sum it up of what we’re doing, it’s four time zones, 24 hours of content. It’s 60 mentors. There’s 96 presentations. We’re expecting about 1,000 attendees. And we’re looking at giving back about $10,000 as a donation to the MREF if we hit some of our targets. So this is our value system of doing stuff from our heart. You mentioned before we started this about why you do your podcast. You do it because you believe it. You interview people that you want to interview that you respect. This event is coming from our heart as an organization, as a management team. And we really hope that people get out of it really what we’ve put in to share.

[00:15:27]

Jamin: And you had a great lineup of speakers and, this is a little bit self-serving, mentors, of which I’m one. But I mean, some of the companies where you’ve got executives. You’ve got KPMG, Facebook, Mars Wrigley, Coca-Cola, HubSpot, etc., etc. So I mean, you guys have done a really good job of attracting some very talented and even lesser-known speakers. I also think a point that you made about topics that are not right down the middle or in the cross-hairs of market research, so maybe more on the edges, is really interesting. Because one of the things that I’ve noticed, I’ve been much more attracted to content that might help augment and add a lot of value for me as opposed to refine the stuff that I already know. So it should be really – I know it’ll be a great event. I’ll post a link to the event to people can sign up in the show notes. If you are listening to this and you want to pause it and check it out, it’s delvinia.com/amplify. That is delvinia.com/amplify. Amplify spelled with an F. I don’t know how else you would spell it, but there you go. So well done. I’m excited about seeing how that turns out.

[00:16:40]

Adam: One thing, Jamin, our DNA, if you look at Delvinia’s history, is that we’re about digital, we’re about the user experience. We backed into market research and we’ve always looked at how technology is transforming how data is collected and used. We didn’t come from market research saying, “Hey, this is a market research technology for my market research.” So putting on a conference, what we’re hoping to do – Like you said, we have some incredible speakers from around the world. This isn’t just from North America. These are speakers from around the world that aren’t usually speaking and that are willing to do this. And I think part of it is that because they’re doing it from their home, it’s easy to get them to do it as opposed to have to travel somewhere. But what we’re trying to bring to the audience is technology is transforming how data is collected and used to drive insight. It’s not how is the market research industry changing. And we’re seeing a lot of companies, because of the pandemic, has really forced that digital transformation to occur. So a lot of people in the insight industry are struggling looking for the insight companies who are doing technology in that and jumping on the bandwagon of technology. Which, look, we’re a technology firm. But I lived through the dotcom boom and the dotcom crash. I know that technology doesn’t drive change. Technology provides the platform for change. And those who understand how you can use technology to be more efficient, to get better data, those are the people that need to be informed. So we’re really hoping that the market researchers who are looking for insight of what is the most innovative stuff, we want them to understand that it’s their responsibility to visualize what a world and what can technology do to help them do things faster, not, “Is technology just gonna do it faster and cheaper than I did it before?” We’re trying to get people to think beyond. Because this is transformative change because of technology. And what we’re hoping with Amplify is that they hear unique and different perspectives that will help them through their journey of transformation.

[00:18:56]

Jamin: You started your career as an engineer. Incidentally, I did as well. Since then, you’ve made investments, founded companies, joined boards. Many of the companies that you’ve started have been very disruptive and taught performers in the market research space. What is one key lesson that you’ve learned when you started your career that helped you achieve where you are today?

[00:19:19]

Adam: One is my passion for digital. That has kept me inspired by, as technology changes, strategy and the way you do things doesn’t necessarily change. It just is improved by the way technology can do it. So that’s my passion about the role of digital in our lives and that has never, never changed. But I think the real thing that is driving my business passion is the fact that while everyone is looking towards: How do you get stuff and build these companies really quickly? And that’s a technology focus. Don’t worry about profitability. Just get your revenues up. Let’s do a multiple revenues, flip you to the next thing. What you forget is there’s a group of people that we call the insight industry that are fundamentally struggling with changing the way they’ve done market research for the past 40 years. And if you aren’t genuine and truly passionate about guiding people through this and not just pushing technology down their throat, you’re not going to succeed in the long run. You may have some really strong financial backers that build you up and flip you. But it’s always been a long game for me. It’s always been, “Anything we build, you know you’re gonna have to evangelize.” You have to be patient. It’s a long-tail play for us. You have to invest in education. You have to keep evolving and changing faster than your clients. And you have to invest and try and not just talk about, but you have to actually risk your own money to understand the new technologies that are emerging and evolving and how they will change, what role they will have in your industry. So whereas I was always around digital and digital customer experiences, around 2010, when we made a real focus around data collection was our focus, it really became around, “Let’s look at data collection not only today but the future.” The future isn’t going to make us money, but the future is gonna form us the businesses that we want to invest in and the direction and we can have informed discussions with people about doing that. So the desire and the passion to keep on understanding how technology is transforming industries, particularly use of digital and data collection, it’s what gets me up every day. Because there’s no constant to it. It’s always evolving. It’s always changing. But what doesn’t change as quickly are the decision-makers of the people who actually have to do insight. So that’s where you have to be very patient.

[00:22:05]

Jamin: Yeah. Philip – What was his last name? Kotler. Kotler. Everybody knows. The father of marketing. Or modern marketing, I guess I should say. He was a big believer in the prioritization of product. It’s something like, and I’m gonna probably botch the quote, but it’s something like, “You’ve got to-,” or, “It’s the role of product to drive revenues, not sales.” Again, I’ll have to look this up and provide the right quote in the show notes. But the thing that really comes to mind to me right now is the companies that were very late, the laggards to adopt digital transformation have struggled tremendously. Whereas the companies that were ahead of that transformation have really just had a boom this year. Everybody had a relatively quiet summer, but Q2 and Q4 have just been gangbusters if you’re in those enablement spaces. Have you seen that transfer also into Delvinia?

[00:23:06]

Adam: Yeah. I think there’s a couple things. When you’re looking at something like Methodify, which is a research technology platform that is automating market research but also enabling researchers to capture and bring their data into one place. What you have to realize is, instead of many researchers or insight people in an organization, for all intents and purposes, they were in the business of procuring research. If you were a research department in a brand, you might be four to ten people servicing 300 clients in the organization. And so, you’re just pounding out studies. You have your research agency partners helping you. You have very little time to consult and advise, “Is that the research you should be doing? Maybe we did that research already in the past and you don’t have to do that study again. I’ll pull up this. This is what happened. It’s exactly the same.” What happened to market research is they became procurers of research. It wasn’t that long ago that the market research industry was under threat because the marketers just didn’t feel they were delivering value anymore. They couldn’t keep up to the demands of their digital consumers and marketers needed to make faster decisions. So they would do crazy things like putting a Facebook poll up and making a $5 million decision. And the researchers struggled to adapt. We need to change. It’s us that needs to change. And when we entered into the automation game with Methodify, what happened was initially, researchers wanted to do their custom jobs, their one-off custom jobs but get it at the price and the speed of an automated solution. And you’re going, “You can’t.” An automated solution isn’t going to replace a one-off custom job. But what it will do is: How many of the jobs that you do in a year, if you’re doing 150 studies in a year, how many of them could actually be automated? Maybe 60%, 70%. If you can automate 60 or 70% of them, then suddenly 30% of them that truly need you to put your insight head on and solve the problem for your internal client to make decisions as opposed to just procuring 150 studies. And this is fundamental change. This is not simply, “Hey, you’ve got a research automation platform. I can do it for cheaper. And oh, by the way, your sample’s too expensive, but I want quality data.” It’s not just cheaper and faster. This is about: Are you changing the way – Is the researcher measuring their ability to derive insight by the success of their organization, not by the success of if they’re getting the research faster and cheaper? So I always measure myself with this change and I measure the success of our company is if the clients that we’re working for who are trying to evolve and change, we help guide them and be patient about how they’re gonna transform and how they’ll use this technology to change their organization. And I would say Q4 is the awakening like we’ve never seen. And people are not so much right now, but people are making commitments for 2021 now but in ways that they really want to understand it. The pandemic – It’s sort of they jumped in the pool and now they’re feeling it all. They’re kicking everyone’s tires. And then, I think what’s happening now are they’re determining, “Who can I trust to guide me through this?” So a lot of the companies, including ours, have a lot of similar tools and technologies. But the differentiator I’m seeing at this moment are: Who do clients trust to genuinely guide them through this transformation? And yes, I agree with you to answer your question from before. Q4 has been suddenly the awakening. Q2 and Q3 were really just trying to fight through the pandemic. But Q4, we’re really seeing thoughtful – Maybe it’s because they’re all planning for 2021. Thoughtful decisions around investment in transformative technologies to help them.

[00:27:22]

Jamin: So along those lines, what are some practical ways that we should be investing in our industry?

[00:27:26]

Adam: I think everybody in the industry needs to understand what their role in it is. And many research agencies don’t have an R&D budget. They don’t invest themselves in R&D. And we probably spend probably about 20% of our revenues on investing back in R&D. Now one of the benefits we have in Canada is we have a great tax – Even though our products sell globally, we have a great tax structure. We have great support for innovation where we get significant tax back. We get innovation dollars from our government to be able to invest in this R&D. But if everybody worked on the application of these technologies? You’ve got the technologies providers like us and the platforms, then you’ve got the research agencies who are trying to figure out how they’re gonna adapt, and then you’ve got the clients. If people are willing to invest in the innovation in very practical ways around the application of technologies with their partners and then publish it, share their knowledge, we’re gonna see really some incredible things to change the way the psychology of insight is going to be not today but in the future. And so, I think Number 1 is that everyone needs to commit – And it’s hard to say because we’re in a pandemic and the economic struggles. But people have to commit real dollars to innovation. And like I said, we do. We do it not looking for a client because many companies do it and they’ll try to find a client who will fund it. We just do it ourselves. Because if we’re gonna sit there and wait, you could sit, wait six to eight months before you get someone who may try it. So we’ve chosen to invest. The other one is you need to share your knowledge. This is why we’re having a summit like Amplify is share the knowledge. Amplify isn’t us getting up, talking about our tools and technologies. We have great people from around the world. It’s sharing the innovative stories of what people are going through, of what’s succeeding, what’s failing, what are the struggles they’re going through as they’re trying to transform their organization and have these discussions. We really need to have those forward-thinking discussions. Not discussions about the efficacy of an online panel versus telephone. Those conversations are done. We have to talk about the use of AI in market research. We need to look at the role of block chain in providing consumers protection of their privacy. These are the forward-thinking conversations that we need other people to look at of not what’s happening today but what’s happening tomorrow.

[00:30:07]

Jamin:: Yeah. And what I like about the framing, there’s two things, right? One is knowledge. So things that are working and things that aren’t working. And then, the other is really vision. Where are we going? And there’s this adage, “Leveraging protectionism to protect your product is a sure way to lose it,” I think is exactly right. You’ve gotta leverage innovation and be able to have transparent conversations, difficult conversations, with customers and competitors in order to identify if there’s crossover opportunities for partnership. Or just like we can all work better together as an industry if we operate with a little bit more transparency. Not to say that we’re gonna go unarmed into sales because of course we’re all in it to win it. But the broader point that I’m trying to make here, and I think you’ve brought out, is that the successful companies are gonna be the companies that are brave enough to have the conversations and share information with one another as opposed to just hoard information and keep everybody else out.

[00:31:12]

Adam: And let’s not underestimate. You’ve got someone like a Michelle Gansle at Mars who is an innovator, and she managed to convince her organization to support her. So a lot of the people that are truly innovators in their own organizations have their own battle within their organizations to move ahead. So that’s why it’s even more important that we collaborate together. And you’re in for the long run. I’m very much passionate about this as a long-term play, not just a short-term win. And we love it. This is what gets me up every day. Whether it’s moving our own company ahead, whether it’s we’re doing our own R&D to find some innovative way to do things, or investing in some innovative company that I know I’m not gonna make money on for the next five years but I know it’s the right thing to do and that they’re putting effort in the right place so I want to make sure that I can bring my experience or company resources or opportunity to test it. And also, I think it’s take these shots and these investments, you can actually do well financially. So it’s exciting times.

[00:32:21]

Jamin: So this particular episode is in conjunction with a series that I’m dropping in December on the predictions for 2021 and beyond. We’re releasing it early in context of the Amplify show or event-summit, I guess-that you guys are putting on. So one of the questions I’m asking each one of my guests relative to the topic of predictions is: I mean, 2020 has been the craziest year I have ever experienced. What are three predictions in market research that you have for the next three years?

[00:32:58]

Adam: Next three years will be the true growth of automation and research. And it’s not just like automating methods, but you’re gonna see the tools and technologies really mature and evolve around automating the research process and providing researchers with the tools to do things not only faster and cheaper but much better. We’ve been seeing everything sort of evolve but we’ve just scratching the tip of the iceberg and you’re gonna see it really, really, really expand. The next thing would be virtualization. So the role of AI in market research. We’re invested in it. It’s really early. There are some applied solutions like our PersonaPanels. The company we invested in in the U.S. that are coming out with some really innovative tools to give you instant responses using AI. Like our CRIS platform, which is a chatbot using for qualitative research. The ability to virtualize the ability to do research and do it on scale is going to huge. Because AI has been going on for a while, but applying it to research is still very early. And then, I think the last part will be around knowledge management. And I think knowledge management is something that everyone has struggled with. There is so much knowledge that organizations have. There are tools to help you manage and pull your knowledge together. But it’s still companies, while they can pull it together, there’s some really great companies like Bloomfire that we work with. And KnowledgeHound is another company. What they’re doing is enabling companies to bring their research into one place. But over the next few years is when the organizations understand the power that brings them. So those would probably be the three that I would think would be the big, big drivers of growth in the next three years.

[00:34:54]

Jamin: Knowledge management to me has been this really interesting meta-problem where – I mean, I’m a simpleton, so I think about an age question. And an age question: How old are you? Or which of the following best represents your age category? The categorization is usually different by survey programmer or by survey writer/author. And so, then that starts losing its comparability because knowledge management at the core of it is just structuring all this unstructured data. Are you seeing AI play a role in solving that problem?

[00:35:31]

Adam: That’s a big question. In R&D, I do. I think part of it is that organizations are looking for efficiencies due to knowledge management. So if a company’s doing a few hundred studies a year and there’s repetition, the first thing is: Can you be more efficient with the resources of an organization by having access to those past surveys and the knowledge of other information? So that’s only gonna be as fast as the insight individual who knows how to use it. Because it’s not gonna be the marketers. It’s gonna be the insight person. So I think the first thing is: How do you organize it and get it together? And then, I think what’s gonna happen is insight people start embracing knowledge management of what it could be. Not just what it is today but what it could be. That’s when I think you’re gonna see the role of AI. Because the use of AI in my opinion should replace the labor or the work needed by the researcher to do 15 million tasks at once. And going back to my engineering degree, my engineering thesis was the knowledge acquisition process of expert system design back in 1988. So how do you take the knowledge of an individual and put it into a computer to be used to help others? And I think what’s happening now is knowledge management is taking the knowledge of an organization, which then has to build the knowledge of the individual insight person. And then, once you have that, the insight person gains their knowledge of how they’ll actually use all this data, then I think AI can come into play to make it much more efficient and put it across the organization. That the most unsophisticated insight person or the most unsophisticated person in their organization or business decision-maker has the knowledge and insight of that insight person who’s learned how to use the knowledge management to provide them the answers they need. So that’s a complicated way of saying, “AI will have a huge part and a huge role once the insight people know how to use knowledge management.” In the meantime, AI can be used to replicate individual profiles to make – There’s lots of ways that AI can be used in the short term. But as it relates to knowledge management, I think it’s a much longer-term play that we need informed insight people who are actually embraced and invested in knowledge management to be those people to then train the AI to be effective for the organization.

[00:38:09]

Jamin: Last question. What is your personal motto?

[00:38:13]

Adam: I probably have two. Can I say both?

[00:38:15]

Jamin: Yeah.

[00:38:17]

Adam: Innovate or die. So the reality is is that if you are, especially with what’s happening now, if you’re in technology or you are involved with using technology, particularly what we’re doing, if you think you’re gonna build something and just rely on that, you’re done. You need to always be innovating and looking ahead. And the other one that I use all the time is: My only constant is change. I never sit back and accept anything as, “This is the way it’ll always be.” I’m always looking at, once we do something, how is it gonna change? Looking ahead, what’s gonna be the impact? And I never take anything for granted. So you don’t really rest, but at the same time, you’re always thinking ahead and you’re always able to embrace new opportunities as they present themselves to you.

[00:39:10]

Jamin:: My guest today has been Adam Froman, founder and CEO of Delvinia. Thank you, Adam, for joining me on the Happy Market Research podcast today.

[00:39:17]

Adam: Jamin, I had so much fun. Thank you for the conversation.

[00:39:20]

Jamin: Everyone else, I hope you will take time to screen-capture, share this episode. Additionally, and actually more importantly, I’d ask you to join us on Amplify. It is a free event for market researchers by market researchers. It’s seven days away at the time of this recording. We’re gonna try to push this out in the next couple of days, so it’ll be five days away. Take the time, sign up. It’s gonna add a lot of value and enjoyment. And I hope you have a great rest of your day.