Welcome to the WIRe Series. Recorded live in Austin, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from the WIRe MRx Meet & Mingle event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Horst Feldhaeuser, Group Services Director (SVP) at Infotools.
Contact Horst Online:
Horst, the Group Services Director at InfoTools. It is an honor to have you on this show. I’ve been following you guys for quite a while. Tell me a little bit about the business.
Well, InfoTools is a company that’s been around for 28 years now, based in New Zealand, but we have offices all around the world. And we do everything from the data to the delivery to the people: so data analysis, data harmonization, dashboarding, socialization, all that kind of stuff.
So, the gamut.
The gamut, yes. Apart from the data collection, we do it.
And we’re good at it.
Yeah, yeah, good. So, 29 years is a storied brand in our space. What kind of technologies have you guys built out as InfoTools?
Yeah, so, we’ve started off with a desktop tool basically to analyze the data as our first step, and then gradually over the years, obviously, we’ve moved into the cloud. So, our biggest tool is now the cloud-based called InfoTools Harmoni. It’s been used by big companies like Coca-Cola, or Unilever (no, not Unilever, sorry), Orange, Shell, Samsung, and more and more market research companies as well. So it’s really a tool for DIY or for the services…
Well, we’ll have to get this podcast in front of Unilever so they can be a customer also.
Yeah, exactly, they should be.
So, you guys have teamed up with the University of Auckland Business School to help give students in market research some hands-on experience. Tell me a little bit about that.
Yeah, that’s really a great partnership with them, and we’ve been in contact with them for a long time. They’ve been very close with the market research industry in New Zealand, and they have a market research competition since about 2011, where they have students working on real-life projects and there is literally it’s like a “Market Research Got Talent” thing with a competition, with judges from the market research industry and from the client side. They’re doing a lot with not-for-profit studies, and this year it’s with a corporation called Housing New Zealand Housing Foundation. We decided with our new cloud-based tool why not give it to them for free and have them use that instead of some of the other tools that we don’t think are quite as funky.
That’s pretty cool.
That’s very cool. And we just started the project. We just had a big training session with them with their previous data, and once they get the new data in, they can play around with it. And we absolutely love it; they love it.
It’s a big upstream opportunity, right? We had one of the plays that Qualtrics took early on in their career. I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily strategic. In those days it was just like available, kind of like Facebook. And it worked out profoundly well for them from a customer-adoption perspective. Is that part of the thinking? I’d imagine it would have to be.
Yeah, I can neither deny nor confirm it, and we thought about that. But, absolutely, I mean we want to support the students. And it’s great for us working in our background at home in New Zealand first, but we definitely want to go globally with that and approach universities across the world. So, if they want to get in contact with us, absolutely.
I think there’s Georgia Tech and Michigan State that are here at this particular conference, both of which have market research-centric masters programs.
We’ll be talking to them, absolutely. And I think it’s great. It gives just different opportunities for people to play with: they can upload their own data; they can really use it. And I think for us as well, it will give us a different focus and a different view ‘cause they’re going to go into it with a completely different view than you and I would go with all our pre-determined thinking.
Yeah, so I’m excited, very excited.
You know one of the problems with market research is – in any industry for that matter – is that, after you do something for 15 to 20 years, you become a leader in that space, right, or looked to as… And then, it can be harder and harder to relate to the new entrants into the… The younger researchers who are just starting their career. And I think about when I started my career in 1996 at the ripe old age of 26 years old, the way that I thought about market research literally… I mean just to give you a point of reference: I did among one of the first online surveys for commercial purposes in that same year whereas my boss was still doing normal, traditional research. And that was a really tough transition for him to ever make, that online research was actually going to be a thing, right? So, for me, let’s be really cognizant and aware of that as we’re aging researchers and make sure that we’re not just closed-minded to that next generation.
Yeah, and I think that’s the exciting part really, right? Well, I think that the great change from, say, what’s happening five, ten years ago is that we now have market research as mainstream in the universities. They can go in and do a major in market research whereas in the past they haven’t. But they go in with completely different views. We’ve seen that with some of the questions they asked us in the training day. They already have a completely different mindset, and we need to leverage that ‘cause these are the people in the future who are going to drive the industry. It’s not us, to be honest. We’re here for another 10, 15, 20 years, but then it’s them really taking over
That’s right, absolutely.
And looking at things differently. And we need to support them with the tools and the thinking.
How can we as researchers do a better job of engaging with that new generation of researchers? Is it more social? Is it through different industry events? You know you’ve got a number of… I think ESOMAR has their under-30 or under-40 category. You know what I mean? Is that…
Yeah, I think so, and I think we need to make it easy for them. There’s the whole meet-ups and all that kind of stuff that’s coming more and more. I haven’t seen it that much utilized from our point of view, from the industry point of view. In New Zealand, we have what’s called RANZ Social, which is a subgroup of the industry association. It’s driven by the young people, and it’s all through social media. It’s all through Facebook, and then they have their own events. But I think opening it up and giving them different opportunities but also sending them to conferences like this. I mean getting them out there, having the opportunity to share stuff. And that’s where the ESOMAR winners is great with a new speaker track that we have at IIeX. I think is absolutely brilliant. I love it.
….Annie Pettit’s… It’s a really important work there. If there was one question you could ask seasoned market researchers that would impart some wisdom to the next generation (You with me?), what do you think that question would be? Would it be centric to “What’s the best methodology a young researcher should learn?” Or would it be centric to core values?
I think I would try to focus on them and say “Follow your curiosity” and “Ask the questions that you want answers to, whether it’s qualitative or quantitative.” I think that whole qualitative/quantitative is obsolete anyway ‘cause it’s all… it’s about getting answers really and how we use that information ‘cause we have tons of information. We saw it already today in some of the workshops. But how we actually use it and bring it back to the business. Maybe that’s the question we need to learn to answer.
That’s very interesting. I think I’m going to incorporate… I might adjust my script a little bit accordingly. Thanks for that.
No worries. Do it.
Yeah, good, so my guest today: Horst, InfoTools. How do people get in contact with you?
Either through our website: InfoTools.com. Or check me out; I’m speaking as well on Thursday, on our Coca-Cola case study. But, yeah, through the website is the easiest.
I think the crowd is getting a little bit crazy right now. Absolutely a good time for us to go here. Enjoy the WIRe. Thanks so much for being on the show, my friend.
Good time for us to get a beer. Cheers. Bye, bye.