Mike Abel appointed as nonexecutive chair of Irish firm Sens
The company enables researchers obtain more truthful answers, including by using human-like avatars
Sens, a tech-based market research company headquartered in Ireland, recently announced that it has appointed Mike Abel, executive chair of M&C Saatchi Group South Africa, as nonexecutive chair.
By marrying market research with behavioural science and artificial intelligence (AI), Sens provides marketers with better data to help them make more informed and accurate decisions.
This is not the first time that Abel has been offered such a position, but it is the first that he has accepted. It was his insatiable curiosity that motivated him to do so, he says.
“I’ve always been more interested in ensuring we are asking the right question before looking for the answer. So when charming Swede Per Lagerstrom, a former McKinsey executive and successful tech entrepreneur, approached me for this role, I looked deeply under the bonnet. Why would this research offering be compelling, useful and fundamentally different in understanding sentiment? And I have to confess, after 35 years in the marketing and communications industry, this was something distinctly fresh and profoundly interesting.”
One of the less frequently discussed matters in research relates to the veracity of the feedback respondents give, he says. “We ask questions and we get answers. But what about the ‘garbage in, garbage out’ factor? This is not to say it hasn’t been a key consideration, but how have we decided to address this?”
Sens is able to look a little further and elicit the truth
While most marketers are familiar with both qualitative and quantitative research and their various methodologies and tools, Abel questions whether there has been enough innovation in this space, particularly when it comes to AI and behaviour tech.
“The great disrupter in this industry is blending AI with the latest technology in data, behavioural science and behavioural economics, and then adding facial recognition and psychological assessment tools,” he says. “Seamlessly blend these together, and back them with an extraordinary human team of proven researchers, engineers and business advisers, and you end up with something that can add exponential value to decision-makers when it comes to clients, customers and employees.”
Abel says Sens is also able to use human-like avatars to engage with research respondents in real time, and to adapt their questions and responses depending on the answers to these questions and the truthfulness scores that are being recorded by the facial and tonal behaviours given.
“A number of studies have confirmed that a huge percentage of our truth actually lies in our non-verbal cues. Not just what we say, but how we say it. Where we look, our time in responding, our posture, our tone and style.
“These critical cues can now be assessed, and, in a respectful manner, our researcher — human or avatar — can dig a little deeper to get to the nub of the real sentiment or emotion and why the customer is choosing brand ‘x’ over brand ‘y’. Not just from a rational perspective, but also from an emotional one, and with a truth or veracity score.
“If an employee is telling you they love working in a company but their nonverbal cues suggest otherwise, Sens is able to look a little further and elicit the truth in order to course-correct the organisation and unlock positive change.”
Abel was recently taken through a project. The company had a high staff satisfaction score through their research tools, yet, simultaneously, a high staff turnover. Sens was appointed to understand this better. Its investigations revealed important insights about why there was dissatisfaction, enabling the client’s leadership team to address the actual problems, rather than being lulled into a false sense of comfort that there were no real issues.
“I’m extremely excited by this new blend of technology and psychology, combined with deep research smarts, to get to a whole new level of being able to ask and answer the right question, to enhance the lived experiences of the key stakeholders and improve the performance of our clients’ organisations. I also love the high level of ethics, respect for privacy and confidentiality that the Sens team embraces, with insights being discovered purely to enhance the experience of customers and clients. This is rare and unique.”
Making Sens available as a tool to all clients, agencies and marketers around the world, says Abel, will be a game changer in understanding “stakeholders” far better and realising the related opportunities.
The big take-out:
The big take-out: Market research is being disrupted by the blending of AI with the latest technology in data, behavioural science and behavioural economics with added facial recognition and psychological assessment tools.
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