January. Isn’t it just about the strangest month in the calendar year?
Most people have the post-holiday blues and some want to let go of the past year but can’t quite do it just yet, perhaps because they can’t face waking up to the reality that they have it all to do again. The despair here differs greatly depending on the type of previous year you have had, of course. For some unknown reason, the New Year hangover seems to eat away deeper into the month every year that passes by.
It is also about this time of year that many of us are evaluating the good, the bad and the downright ugly from the past year’s accomplishments at work and at home, whilst frantically rolling out new plans that are already technically underway for the next 12 months. In many cases, this involves setting private and professional goals and resolutions. It’s also about this time that many of us already start to wonder whether these goals are a) reasonable; b) attainable; or c) broken yet. And so it came to pass that I also decided to hitch a ride on this bandwagon and reflect on what happened in 2012 and assign what brain power I have in this strange month towards where things are heading in 2013.
So first things first, let’s start with the easy items. I had 3 personal resolutions I wanted to keep this year, each with varying degrees of difficulty. One was to keep my word on having a ‘dry’ January (so far so good) after the excesses of December, another was to be the best Dad in the world once my yet-to-be-born, first child arrives and the third was to ensure that I managed to secure my West Ham United season ticket again despite the complexities of this relating to resolution number two!
So privately I think I’m good to go and hope I can write here again in 12 months’ time to report back on having ticked all three off, or at least having successfully navigated my way through the first few months of piles of nappies, baby-grows and sleepless nights in the new role of ‘Daddy.’
Professionally, there is also excitement in the air and with a new year comes heightened focus on key goals and objectives for the Cint business. I have a feeling 2013 will be a landmark year for the company. We spent a good part of 2012 in funding mode and managing a lot of change in the business, knowing that we had to do so if we wanted to come good on our word to remain the leader in self-service (DIY) sampling and project management solutions. The funding round closed successfully last autumn and some key structural and strategic changes were worked through aggressively during the latter half of the year. With all this comes a relatively high degree of risk, of course, and it was not without its challenges. Looking back now it may well just be one of the smartest moves we made as a company and our Q4 performance in 2012 is an early proof point of that.
In short, everything we have done and do from here on in is geared up to becoming (and remaining) the most innovative technology platform provider for insights attainment. We truly believe the time has come for self-service/DIY sampling and audience measurement solutions to empower research buyers with the right tools to target specific audiences in a cost and time-efficient manner – all without a compromise on quality.
The majority of our revenue today still comes directly from market research agencies and we build features in Cint Access primarily for this segment. That’s not to say we don’t work with other types of clients, because we clearly do, but our starting point and legacy has come from within the market research industry and that won’t ever change. If we build on a commitment to professional research we can safely assume that the tools and features will be rich enough for all.
And why not have an ambition to take market research to the masses? We hear all this talk about wanting to protect the fine art of research and keeping things as a closed shop, yet here we are in 2013 facing a global economic recession, with many, many research agencies struggling to stay afloat and little change taking place. If we want to broaden the commercial opportunity for market research then don’t we need to also look within and broaden our own attitude, no, willingness to test, explore, create, co-create and share. The more the world knows about market research the better. There will be greater demand, more users, more buyers and ultimately a plethora of opportunities for all. The only folk who should be scared of that future are those hanging on to the past. Invent, reinvent or die. As harsh as it sound that’s the reality for us all.
Now stepping down off my high horse for just a second, and thinking more about the present for a moment, as I say I genuinely believe MR is at a cross-roads, is ripe for change and technology in conjunction with methodology and process, is at the heart of what’s going to drive this industry on. What better proof for us than looking at our own development in the past 12 months. We are now selling more self-service/DIY projects than managed services studies. We have seen close to triple-digit growth in self-service revenues during this period, over 100 new unique buyers join our platform to self-serve in this time and household MR agencies migrate to simpler, easier to do research onto our platform to self-serve. At the same time, we have also now fully integrated APIs with over 35 different software firms, connecting their tools and platforms to our online panel marketplace, OpinionHUB, and grown our global supply base with publishers and media partners to fuel all of this demand to over 7.5 m active willing participants of research.
Change is happening; it’s here, and if you blink you’ll miss it. We’ve learned it pays to stick to your guns. Focus is everyone, and if we have one resolution in 2013 it is this: let’s control what we can control and allow the noise to continue around us. So get your headphones on, tune into your frequency wave and set about your work.