Last week, a colleague forwarded a LinkedIn post by business consultant Michael Roderick which was particularly pertinent in this unprecedented time. Roderick urges us to focus on what we CAN still do, even as we are faced with social distancing, curfews, travel bans, companies issuing work-from-home mandates and of course, the serious nature of the COVID-19’s impact on health and well-being of our families and societies. It is a good read and one that might give you the boost needed to stay optimistic and positive this week.
It got me to thinking about PRS IN VIVO’s business, our industry and reasons to be optimistic, as we grapple with significant challenges in the days and weeks ahead. We have all sadly confronted a lot of what we CAN’T do right now, but counter intuitively there are reasons to be encouraged. There are certainly things that we may be taking for granted that DO facilitate continuing to serve our clients’ needs, even during these difficult times.
The way we work as advisers and partners is always better when we can collaborate in person. And in-person research must be a key component when we are attempting to understand and predict consumer behavior.
But it is actually amazing to think about the ways we can “work-from-home” and yet stay connected, communicating and collaborating virtually among our teams and with clients, planning and executing on client objectives, and longer-term strategies. And when I say “we” it covers everyone across the entire industry: agencies, partners for services like panel access, programming and translation, as well as clients. We are all making do even as the circumstances and the long-term impact unfolds.
We have secure VPNs, online collaboration tools and reporting portals. We have Google Drives and ways to share and edit documents internally and simultaneously. We have secure e-mail and file sharing options. We have data repositories that we can mine using tools like AI analytics. We have options for online research, DIY and mobile research. We have virtual tools for analyzing past survey data and even data coming from other sources. We have ways of reaching consumers confined to their homes.
Our mobile devices as almost as good as our desktops and, bandwidth permitting, we can work from just about anywhere! (As long as out of school kids are not kicking up a storm in the background. We have all developed new-found respect for teachers, I am sure.)
It is not easy, but as recently as 10 years ago, the lack of tech enabled resources would have impacted our ability to “Carry On”, as an industry, in even more drastic and insurmountable ways.
Circumstances surrounding COVID-19 may be unique, but the tools we have, coupled with expertise in categories or disciplines such as behavioral science, analytics, design thinking and semiotics, and old-fashioned ingenuity, make this a unique time for creativity in our responses. At PRS IN VIVO, we had been hard at work evolving our suite of virtual and online tools over the last year, so as clients are looking for alternatives, we were prepared to meet them with an enhanced FlashSuite which we rolled out last week.
Regardless of what transpires in the coming months, it is likely to be transformative in ways it’s hard to anticipate. At PRS IN VIVO, we know we are equipped with the resources and assets needed to continue to live up to our role as trusted partners for our clients. Among those assets are agile tech solutions, a proven behavioral framework, and a cadre of people with second to none behavioral research expertise.
To our employees, we say THANK YOU, for your enthusiasm and tenacity every day trying to innovate, improvise and support our loyal clients. I always knew you were good, but I have been amazed and humbled seeing our teams do extraordinary things behind the scenes to keep things going over the past week.
To our clients, we say thank you as well, for your presence and your confidence. We are here for you, don’t hesitate to connect and ask. Even if it is simply to imagine new ways to work once things return to a new sense of normalcy.
To the industry, we say let’s all keep striving to understand consumer behavior and help clients apply it to grow their brands and businesses.
If we focus on what we CAN do, we might surprise ourselves in what we DO achieve in these historic moments, now and in the months to come.
Oh . . . and everybody, wash your hands and keep smiling!
Alex Hunt is the CEO of PRS IN VIVO, a BVA Group company, which provides behaviorally driven consultancy in shopper and product experience. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexHunt84 and Instagram @AlexHunt71214.