The Seismic Research Shift: Moving From Hindsight to Foresight

About a year and a half ago, I had the good fortune to walk on a glacier while visiting Patagonia in Argentina. It was amazing. I’ve been thinking about that walk a lot lately, especially as I look at our changing economic landscape.

While walking on top of the glacier, I didn’t feel anything moving. Then I went into the valleys where the glaciers had receded, and I saw all these micro-impacts on the geography, because the pressure points had been so intense. You don’t feel these impacts on top of the glacier, but they are happening all along the way where the glacier is receding at any particular point in time. It’s similar to the way macro-economic trends work, where intense things occur in specific industries at specific points in time, again and again. So, looking back at these macro trends provides a picture of what happened over a long period of time in the past — hindsight.

Now imagine a tsunami hits the glacier. COVID instantaneously disrupted every single thing we do. It’s been like a tsunami that accelerated everything, making everything not just important, but urgent and important. Look specifically at consumer-facing organizations, and they have to respond much faster than they ever have before, because if they don’t, they could face an existential threat to their business. Just ask the airlines; just ask Uber; just ask WeWork. They all had to do things differently in an instant. Decisions had to be made at the snap of a finger in a situation that was completely unfamiliar. To be honest, hindsight wasn’t all that useful anymore.

If looking back at what has already happened isn’t helpful, then what is? 

At its core, research is a way to collect information or data to learn more about a situation, so you can make smarter decisions. 

Great! Research is an enabler that de-risks decision-making and investment cycles. But traditional research is driven by hindsight. Companies look back at what’s already happened to help figure where they should go next. In times of turbulence, especially, hindsight isn’t always 20/20. Plus, traditional research is slow. And now, more than ever, companies don’t have the luxury of time. 

The reliance on hindsight research needs to change. Companies, particularly those that have been upended — and who hasn’t been? — are looking to foresight research. What is in your consumers’ minds today, and where are they heading? Foresight research is at the core of ResTech, which allows you to get quick feedback about what your customers want right now. It gives you the ability to rapidly innovate, test a hypothesis, get feedback, make another decision, test that decision, get more feedback, and do that all very, very quickly, so you can stay on track. Agile, real-time consumer feedback allows you to pivot at a moment’s notice and still keep moving forward. 

ResTech is causing a seismic shift, turning research to face forward instead of backward. While there will always be an important place for hindsight research to analyze what you’ve already done, most companies cannot afford to sit still and wait for such feedback — to see what changes the moving glacier has left behind — before they act. They need fast, easy, reliable consumer insight to inform everyday movements. ResTech is enabling this kind of decision-making, giving businesses automated tools to gather research that allows them to move ahead and respond fast — even in the face of a tsunami.

Interested in learning how Agile ResTech solutions like Feedback Loop can inform your decisions with foresight? Book a demo today!

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