This past week Synthesio was proud to sponsor and speak at the IIEX North America conference in Austin, hosted by GreenBook. For nearly a decade this event has been the place for insights and marketing professionals to share ideas, network, and see the latest tech solutions. And this year there was an extra buzz for many of us who have been craving an actual live event. Let’s just say the venue, and content, and downtown Austin food scene did not disappoint!

So with more than 100 speakers and 1000 attendees there’s a LOT to digest. But just like Texas barbecue, the fun is in the variety of offerings, and not only the main acts, but also what happens on the sidelines. Here are 3 key takeaways.

AI was everywhere – from sessions to (many) vendor booths.

From sessions on the state of AI and AI for image analytics, to the use of text analysis for processing open-ended survey responses, there’s a growing set of use cases for AI in the research field, and we heard broad interest among practitioners we saw – not just in the outcomes AI enables, but also how and where it fits. There’s a particular demand for using AI for multi-source data fusion (a passion of mine back to my R&D days), and not only enabling innovation like spotting trends and emerging consumer needs, but also for automation – streamlining existing research tasks and shortening time to insights (yes, the Synthesio AICI platform does all of this!)

Insights team are tackling a growing set of use cases.

As Forrester has covered in its research for consumer insights pros, top brands are  broadening how they gather and interpret their quantitative and qualitative data, and blend in data from outside their firm. They are also using AI and AICI platforms to look beyond current behaviors to emerging trends, outliers and unexpected shifts. This expanded role for insights teams is not only creating (potentially) a bigger impact in their organizations. It’s also requiring new “processing” to handle larger and more diverse datasets and use cases like innovation and product development, get the right data cleaned up, and in the right place, and allow users to explore and visualize it – what we call data hybridization.

As always, it’s about looking at problems from new perspectives.

What do a Caribbean branding agency, a European consumer goods company, and a Chinese appliance manufacturing company have in common? They all want to get closer to their customers. And they were all at IIEX too. And while they all have different starter use cases when it comes to AICI (brand health, competitor tracking, product innovation), it was clear in talking with leaders at all three of these firms that they are tasked with challenging conventional wisdom, looking at consumer insights from a (largely) tech-driven perspective, and building cross-functional teams that are not anchored to just one method or data source.

This diversity of perspectives – and having a venue to bring them together and spark new connections is why live conferences will never go away. And why we are excited to do some of our own meetups and events in the second half of 2022. More on this soon!