The 2020 edition of SampleCon was last week in Atlanta, shifting from Austin, where it was held the last couple of years. This year brought together some of the leading minds in the sample industry, leading to some of the highest quality sessions the conference has ever put together.
Here are the top 4 topics from this year’s conference:
Data quality challenges in the sample industry have always been prevalent, but perhaps even more so in the past few years. However, it now seems that the marketplace clearly recognized this, and has invested in potential solutions. This led to many new products and companies (many of which were at SampleCon) emerging to help sample providers and buyers become more confident in their data. There are more traditional digital fingerprinting options available, as well as newer, more innovative techniques and technologies from crowdsourcing, artificial intelligence, automated validation techniques, and blockchain. While a couple of years ago there were limited options – that is no longer the case. There are many options and the newly crowded landscape needs to be navigated by the industry to identify and implement the best options.
There are 2 related components to this topic. The first is how the sample industry can attract and retain Generation Z into their panels. Gen Z is different than other youth generations – they are much more tech-savvy, absorb and retain information differently, and have different needs than other generations. The industry has long struggled with attracting younger respondents and it must adapt in order to obtain their opinions. This doesn’t just mean shorter surveys but incorporating more modern question types and methods for delivering surveys through methods like smart speakers or gaming platforms. Companies should focus on innovations like these to keep the industry moving forward.
Second, the industry must continue to adapt in order to attract the best talent. Are we positioning the industry for this? Are there things we can be doing in terms of work-life balance, working remotely, and non-compete clauses in order to bring in the best up-and-coming talent? Just like how we as an industry need to innovate to attract Gen Z respondents, we need to innovate to attract them and top talent from other generations.
Blockchain was once again a hot topic at SampleCon this year. Measure Protocol, Veriglif, and other blockchain companies took the stage to talk about the benefits of blockchain, only unlike previous years, we are starting to see the potential technology bear some fruit. Blockchain doesn’t seem to be going away, but in 2020 you will probably see the technology, and the companies pushing it, make some strides in turning it more mainstream within the sample industry.
It seems that SampleCon is ushering in a new level of industry collaboration for this year and beyond. We saw more competitors than ever working together to solve problems. Dynata, who traditionally eschewed SampleCon, made a strong statement this year – first by joining the SampleCon board, and then by having their CEO, Gary Laben, present on stage with other industry leaders on the future of marketing research. However, at the close they basically announced that they are going to do their part to help educate the industry, sharing best practices among other things. Dynata, and the former companies it is comprised of, have long been leaders in sampling, so this is a good sign and hopefully will help to lift the industry.