r2i @ BIG – examining business confidence in an uncertain world

14 July 2017

There has been a lot of recent media speculation about how the General Election outcome and Brexit uncertainty is impacting business confidence. On June 29, the MRS/BIG conference in London on the Future of Business-to-Business Research featured that  as a  keynote topic and I set the context for what became a great panel discussion by presenting findings from PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey

This research was conducted by r2i in Autumn 2016, a couple of months after the vote, when CEOs in the UK had had a chance to reflect on the shock of Brexit and the potential implications for their businesses . At that stage though, UK CEOs were still relatively bullish – with four in ten saying they were very confident, up from a third in 2015.

But there were some clouds on the horizon. UK CEOs were gloomier about global economic growth and were concerned in particular about the future of the Eurozone, exchange rate volatility, geopolitical uncertainty and the availability of key skills. Indeed, concerns around skills shortages were considerably up on the previous year and reflected the findings of our Business of Evidence research which was conducted for the Market Research Society, pre-Brexit and which revealed concerns about skills shortages in the research industry as a whole.


GK MRS presentation
Gillian Kane (second from left) takes part in the discussion at MRS/BIG

So what does this mean for the market research industry ? There was a consensus at the conference uncertainty meant that our clients are going to demand more information and more insight than ever before. Our MRS research suggests that the research skills shortage will be in data analytics and business skills. The top responses the skills of the researcher of the future will need are being business-savvy, having a strong understanding of data analysis and interpretation, and being a good communicator and storyteller – yet three in ten our CEOs across all sectors find recruiting staff with creative skills very difficult and a fifth said the same for digital skills.

Our challenge in the industry will be to keep positive, reinforce the attractiveness of the research industry to potential new recruits, and continue to develop the new generation of researchers - as access to these skill sets becomes increasingly more competitive across all sectors, not just market research, post-Brexit.

Gillian Kane, r2i Senior Manager 


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