Navigating the Future of Insights: Leadership and AI Innovations at the Heart of Industry Transformation

Published May 09, 2024

Jamie Clarke, Managing Director MR & Consulting - FR, NL & UK

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At the end of March, I hosted Toluna’s latest Insight Leader’s Lunch in London, where senior leaders from our MR & Consulting team were joined by 14 C-Level executives from the UK’s top insight firms.

We host these events quarterly and they are built on the premise that leaders of insight firms have many shared challenges. The events provide a forum for a Chatham House Rule discussion (where participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speakers, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed) of these challenges, one of which is how AI and Synthetic Data will impact their businesses.

When I attended the May 2023 Quirk’s event, AI was the hottest topic. At the time, I felt that half the delegates were excited about the positive impact it would have on our industry, while the other half had the exact opposite viewpoint. Just ten months later, I attended the MRS Conference and it felt like every session had AI or Synthetic Data in its title. I even recall one session where the panel host commented how extraordinary it was that it took ten minutes before AI was mentioned.

While AI and Synthetic Data were at the core of the conversation, it felt as though our industry had only progressed from “AI is going to take all our jobs” to “AI won’t take your job, but someone using AI might.”

Knowing I was about to host 14 industry leaders just a few weeks later, I reached out to Renee Smith, our EVP of Innovation, for an update that offered practical ways we might be able to partner with our clients on this topic.

At Toluna, we began leveraging AI and Machine Learning in our business long before ChatGPT was a “thing” by:

  • Creating a dedicated team of machine learning engineers
  • Improving internal tools like our survey router
  • Deploying Large Language Models (LLMs) to create automated tools for data quality checks
  • Migrating to ChatGPT tools
  • Running the latest GPT-4 models on-premises (with no confidential client information going off-premises)

Renee also spoke about our views on Synthetic Data and how it can be used to mimic the statistical features of real data. She shared examples of how we’re already partnering with clients on this, what we’re BETA testing, what’s on our roadmap, and possible areas for partnership in the near future.

At Toluna, we’re acutely aware that AI, Machine Learning, and Synthetic Data are topics that will transform our industry. That’s why we’ve invested in these areas and will continue to do so going forward. To ensure our clients thrive in these areas, too, we’re offering ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions with our clients to share our view of the market and how we’re helping companies tackle these topics.

If you feel your team could benefit from a Lunch & Learn session, or if you’d like to attend one of our quarterly Insight Leaders Lunches, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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