The New Future of Insight

6 Apr 2020

The New Future of Insight - Hannah Marcus

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to be named as one of the GRIT Report Future List Honourees, and I took part in a panel with four other Honourees to discuss the future of the industry at IIEX Europe. That now seems like another world. It’s very odd – sitting at a conference devoted to the future of an industry, with very little conception of what the nearer future was about to hold.

I found it an interesting exercise to go back to what I and my fellow panellists said on stage only a month ago (though it somehow feels like a lifetime), and think about what still feels relevant, even in a different context to the original. As such, I’ve taken the piece I had meant to write, sharing the panel discussion with those who were not there, and updated it – with the caveat than in another month’s time, who knows what else will be out of date.

At the time, and in the following weeks when I’ve talked about the future of data and insight, I’ve talked about the importance of the intersection of technology and humanity. Within the industry, I think we’re moving to toward a more symbiotic relationship, a hybrid working model of technology and human experience and expertise. This has always felt like the right direction to be heading, but now it seems like we’re getting there a little faster than before.

Technology can be incredibly useful for facilitating human connections and augmenting human intelligence rather than replacing it. This is why I feel so lucky having found a place at Discover.AI, where we use artificial intelligence to supplement the expertise of our strategists and analysts, rather than replace them. That philosophy runs throughout the company, across all the technology we use - whether it’s platforms to keep in touch with our internal teams or client facing technologies we use for innovation.

The shift to working remotely has been quite interesting; it’s something we’ve been doing at Discover.ai since its inception, and it was incredibly easy to move all of our day-to-day work online. Yet what this means is that the primary advantage of our office space was for social and company culture – which is quite striking when we think about what has been lost in this shift. In recent weeks as everyone has started working remotely, it’s vital that we don’t lose sight of the role for technology to facilitate and create human connection because that’s where its the true power lies – but also because that’s what is going to bond us together in new ways.

However, there were some elements of the panel which I think still hold true, speaking to different questions than those posed by the COVID world. When asked what advice I’d give to my 18-year old self (not that she’d listen), it was an opportunity to talk about the time and energy I wasted with imposter syndrome. I had spent a lot of time feeling I wasn't really a semiotician because I hadn't had certain training. Then weirdly, it was only at the point when I got a job where I actually do proper semiotics, that I felt like I could call myself a semiotician.  There are young researchers, strategists and analysts that may well have joined companies during this period of encouraged isolation that will not have met their teams face-to-face. Without that initial office dynamic, imposter syndrome could be a very thing. So, for those new starters, I advise be confident in your skills and abilities, and for those managing them; make sure you’re considering that when we’re all working remotely.

We’re living through a very unique time, new and unique challenges are coming thick and fast, but what’s important to remember is that at its core our industry and companies that we work in are based on human connection, and that will be the future of our industry regardless of any technological advances.

Written by Hannah Marcus
Semiotician and ex-qual researcher, fascinated by the intersection of culture and technology in modern life. Looking for new meaning to her life since finishing a part-time MA in cultural studies.

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