This year was another big year for the market research industry. As we look back at 2018, there were several big storylines that happened.
The most significant trend, topic, and point of discussion this year has to be the emergence of Blockchain technology in market research. Blockchain solutions took the industry by storm this year – becoming a leading topic at many conferences, from Quirks to IIeX. We also saw several new ventures starting up looking to disrupt the sample and market research industries: Opinion Economy, led by Ted Waz and Isaac Rogers; Veriglif, a consortium of sample companies brought together by Lenny Murphy of Greenbook; and Measure Protocol, led by industry veterans Owen Hanks, Paul Neto, and John Martin.
The opinions vary on Blockchain and its potential, from game-changing to smoke and mirrors. All we know is that this is a new technology that many in the industry are exploring, but it will take time to see if any of the investments bear fruit, and this will be a major topic in 2019 as we follow its progression.
2018 was supposed to be a big year for IPOs in market research, which are somewhat rare. Both SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics planned on submitting an IPO. However, it turned out that this year was a big year for both IPOs and acquisitions. SurveyMonkey followed through with their IPO in September with a $1.5 billion valuation. Qualtrics planned to go to IPO in November, only to agree to be acquired by SAP a couple of days before the offering with a staggering cost of $8 billion to SAP.
Both moves can have large impacts on the market research industry, with SurveyMonkey being one of the few publicly traded market research firms, potentially setting a trend for others contemplating IPOs.
Qualtrics proved its value, as it is reported they will retain most of their independence. There is potential that this is the opening move in more of these types of acquisitions, as data and insight firms look to integrate with more end-to-end offerings.
Another big news story in 2018 was around the Research Now / SSI merger. While their merger was back in 2017, there were still repercussions that impacted the industry in 2018 as they have started to combine and migrate their internal systems to a single platform. While many expected an announcement of the new name and branding for the combined company, it looks like we will be waiting until 2019 for that, along with many of the other details as these two industry giants become one.
While Blockchain was the hot topic in 2018, there was continued innovation made in other areas, including further integration of artificial intelligence for better insights, more applications of big data being used to mine for deeper insights, and further integration of platforms (like SurveyMonkey and SalesForce).
What can we expect in 2019? Only time will tell, but EMI will be here to monitor the next year so continue to follow us for the latest industry updates.
Have a Happy New Year everybody!