Staying ahead of the curve is crucial in the ever-evolving landscape of market intelligence and strategic planning. To gain insights into the cutting-edge trends shaping the industry in 2024, we sat down with Aaron Cruikshank, President of CTRS Market Intelligence. Building on his 20+ years of experience in the field, we talk about the transformative impact of AI-powered tools, the rise of data democratization and literacy, and the integration of multimodal data.

This blog post presents the conversation in a question and answer format below.  Let’s dive into what Aaron shared! 

AI-Powered Tools

From what we are seeing in the industry, there is a growing emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI) in the market intelligence space. How do you see this trend evolving in 2024? 

Artificial Intelligence is improving market intelligence for everyone in the field. In 2023, AI’s utility grew beyond data collection. These days, AI tools process and deliver insights that can enhance the work of a market intelligence analyst. AI automates processes that improve data relevance and accuracy while lowering human error. The predictive powers of AI are especially intriguing since they provide insight into future market trends.

That said, I know there is always this element of fear that AI tools will replace jobs or result in wildly inaccurate data. AI tools are just that – tools. Don’t rely on them to do more than they are designed to do. They can’t come up with strategic insights for you. Personally, I use them to develop ideas that might not have occurred to me, to better understand highly technical concepts (for example, how heavy water turns into deuterium gas and what companies use it for), and to help do data cleaning.

The market intelligence professional has three jobs:

  1. To find data points that will support a strategic decision
  2. To triangulate many data sources to ensure that the data points are the most accurate available
  3. To take this data to provide a contextual brief for the strategic planning process

AI tools support the first job. However, the other two jobs still require a human analyst. So no need to worry about job security when it comes to your market intelligence career. 

The Rise of Data Democratization

There’s been lots of talk about “data democratization and literacy” in the market intelligence field – what are your thoughts on these trends?

Our goal at CTRS is to help all businesses, no matter how big or small, fully utilize the potential of market intelligence for every employee. I support data literacy and democratization greatly because of this. These trends aim to make data available to all users, regardless of their level of technical expertise. Innovators and well-informed decision-makers at all organizational levels are encouraged by this inclusivity. In 2024, there will be an increase in the training and tools available to support data democratization, which will make data more accessible and more useful for a larger audience.

The biggest barrier to democratization today is organizational culture. Traditionally, business intelligence, market research data and market intelligence have been closely held by siloed teams within an organization. There is some fear that democratizing data will “give the farm away” and make these internal experts less relevant. I don’t believe that. Giving everyone in the organization access to the data makes their jobs even more important. 

You can set someone loose in a hardware store, but most people won’t know how to turn lumber and nails into sheds or swingsets. That takes specialized skills and knowledge.

I would love to see a time when employees with access to this data come to the market intelligence experts with hypotheses based on that data and ask the market intelligence analyst for support proving that hypothesis. That would make the job more attractive, in my opinion.

The Integration of Multimodal Data

Multimodal data and integration is a hot topic right now. Can you elaborate on its significance in 2024?

Multimodal data is revolutionary. It is data in multiple formats, including text, photos, audio, video, and more. This data’s integration and analysis offer a comprehensive market picture by highlighting trends and opportunities that single-mode data might overlook. Methods like sentiment analysis, computer vision, and natural language processing are crucial in multimodal data analysis. As a discipline, we will use these methods more than ever in 2024 to extract insights from large, complicated data sets.

The Future of Market Intelligence

To wrap up our conversation with Aaron, we asked him what the future of market intelligence is. Here’s what our resident market intel expert had to say after pondering the question.  

The future is bright and data-centric. AI will remain a key tool in increasing the effectiveness and insight of intelligence gathering. As data becomes more accessible, organizational cultures will become more knowledgeable and collaborative. The breadth and depth of market intelligence will also increase dramatically as we refine multimodal data analysis. Not only are these trends influencing the future, they are defining it.

My advice? Embrace these trends. The landscape of market intelligence is dynamic, and staying informed is key. Whether you’re a business leader, strategic planning professional or a market intelligence professional, understanding and leveraging these trends will be crucial for success in 2024 and beyond.