Sample industry thought leaders, researchers, and technologists convened in Atlanta last week for SampleCon 2020, the premier market research event solely focused on respondent sampling. From breakout sessions to panel discussions, networking to product demonstrations, collectively, we all strived toward a better understanding of factors impacting the future of the sample industry and the best way to respond to them. From my seat, as both attendee and speaker, two overarching themes stood out to me: data quality and technology. Here’s my take:

Sample Quality – Data Security, Fraud and Transparency

Conversations about the future of sample sparked various debates at this year’s conference, on stage and off. Numerous companies – more than in past years – demonstrated their security software capabilities and industry thought leaders sat on panels to discuss consumer privacy and fraud detection best practices. Ultimately, we all had an opinion. But the crux of the conversation centered around data integrity and improving how sample is sourced. Consumers are taking control of their data and the c-suite doesn’t understand sample and how it drives business objectives. Both present challenges for sample companies. Educating our stakeholders on the value of sample and leveling up our approach to survey design, delivery, and overall respondent experience is essential to the sustainability of the industry.

Technology Trend – Panel Management Software

When asked the one thing the sample industry could do to improve the field for everyone, hiring more engineers to code got a lot of fist bumps. Empowering our teams with the tools and resources needed to be innovative in our approach to sample is key and one of the areas ripe for innovation is in the technology we deploy. At the conference, I learned about sample management software, also known as panel technology platform software. Any company that has a database can now turn it into a sample/survey source, create their own network via APIs, and much more.

For example, Lightspeed GM/Kantar licensed Cint’s technology platform, causing a seismic shift in the industry. Lightspeed can now create its own API networks with sample/panel companies bypassing the exchanges, which is more cost-effective and increases conversion rates. This out of the box thinking is now being modeled by other providers, like Lucid, who announced a partnership with suppliers of panel management software as part of the exchange. This new trend in the sample industry will be interesting to watch. It will go one of two ways – sample companies will cannibalize each other in the fight for market share or this new enterprise level software will open the door for bigger companies not currently in the sample industry, to enter the market.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.