Ivy Exec spoke with Camille Nicita the current CEO and President at Gongos, Inc. to learn about its founding and its innovative work in the market research space.
Gongos, Inc. is a decision intelligence company that partners with Global 1000 corporations to help build the capability and competency in making great consumer-minded decisions. Gongos brings a consultative approach in developing growth strategies propelled by its clients’ insights, analytics, strategy and innovation groups.
What is your origin story?
My origin story is that of an intern who believed in a man. That man was John Gongos. And while John, too, believed in me when he asked me to join him in the launch of a “better kind of company” in 1991, he set out to build a market research firm built upon integrity, a strong humanistic culture and doing right by our clients.
Fast forward 25 years later (we celebrated our quarter-century milestone in October 2016), while holding dear our founder’s legacy, I am cultivating many of those colleagues who began with us decades ago, while sourcing new talent (skillsets and mindsets), building new disciplines that extend and enhance our core competencies, and executing on a future that is based upon the shared vision of our leadership team, and all of our employees.
How are you changing the face of market research?
That’s an interesting question, as the face of market research has been changing all its own. There have been many conferences rebranded, several association mergers, and company acquisitions, all in the name of evolving an industry that frankly cannot exist in its recent, or historical, form.
That said, Gongos is pioneering what we call the decision intelligence space. It more suitably puts the onus on creating value on the end result, rather than the method or means to get there. At the end of the day, organizations are counting on us to help them make better consumer-inspired decisions, grow their business, and outsmart the competition. We sell them—and ourselves—short if we stop at “research.”
Knowing this, Gongos brings a consultative approach to coalescing primary research (a critical factor as it centers us on the human); data science (the need to triangulate behavioral data, or the “what” of data) and insight curation (a way to make consumer intelligence more consumable, immersive and memorable to influence behavior). Lastly, we work closely with our clients to develop activation and change management strategies to further drive ROI centered on consumer-minded decision making.
Where do your company’s best ideas come from?
Undoubtedly, it’s our people. We effectively have a balanced roster of 130+ tenured researchers, strategists, curators, data scientists, communication designers and programmers working side by side. Each are continually collaborating with one another to both converge and diverge ideas and experimentation.
We have also become less risk averse with piloting programs to determine what will both stick and create the greatest value to our clients and our own organization. Finally, we count on our innovation+trends team to bring an outside-in perspective to ensure we have our feet firmly grounded in the present and in the future.
What are your areas of focus within market research?
We really do solve for almost all consumer-centric initiatives. With regard to near-term programs, our work ranges from white-space and product innovation, to pricing strategies and marketing optimization, to retail evaluation and in-store testing, to customer experience and consumer journeys. With longer-view initiatives, we help organizations gain confidence in their future through portfolio management and planning, predictive analytics, trend analysis and activation, and paving a path to strategic foresights.
What is an example of an interesting project that speaks to your company’s capabilities?
Here is a healthy example (pun intended). Healthcare is an industry enveloped in disruption due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The introduction of it virtually pulled the rug out from underneath major healthcare providers, as long-maintained strategies became obsolete, and competition increases.
Our clients in this space are finding opportunity to drive customer centricity amid this landscape. Once part of a B-to-B marketplace, providers have shifted to a B-to-C model through: the talent acquisition of consumer-minded insights professionals; placing emphasis on empathic connection with the end-consumer; and gradually recalibrating their employee base to better mirror the consumer base it serves.
In addition, we’ve helped to guide product and service development initiatives leveraging cross-functional teams with consumers as the focus. To help them manage this transformation, subtle and overt cues have been introduced in the environment as constant reminders of this evolution.
Lastly, acknowledging that intraorganizational teams have different languages of learning, we’ve equipped ourselves to deliver intelligence in highly nuanced forms—via different platforms—to meet key decision makers and frontline employees where they are. In doing so, we clearly represent consumer needs and the big picture insuree/patient experience to everything, while infusing holistic consumer metrics as input to decision-making at all levels.
What is your outlook on the market research industry as a whole? Where do you see the Market Research industry heading in the next 3-5 years?
The “Era of Big Data” is opening up compelling new opportunities across the industry. Sophisticated decision analytics based on large data sets will uncover new kinds of insights for B-to-C organizations. However, for these insights to create maximum impact, it will be critical for them to be brought to life in the context of humans, who are the ultimate source of this tsunami of data.
In this context, our industry has the opportunity to push even deeper toward helping clients understand the collective context which makes consumers think and act as humans, rather than numbers on a spreadsheet. We will increasingly be in the business of humanization, making sense of the unconscious, irrational and deeply personal motivations that underpin human desires and motivations. From our perspective, these are exciting times that create a rare opportunity for “market research” to evolve beyond where stakeholders can even imagine today.
What are any exciting initiatives you have planned for 2017?
Very soon (in fact, the announcement is in the making as I write this), we are partnering with a Seattle and Valencia, Spain-based customer experience platform provider. The synergies—and palpable energy—between our two companies is already being felt. Together we look forward to bringing new design-driven value to organizations both on the front end of gleaning insights and on the back-end delivery of more than just dashboards and data portals, but a curated human story backed by an activation plan.
We are also putting into play a more agile people infrastructure so that we can serve our clients in the most effective and efficient way possible; as it’s clear that our clients are too feeling this notion of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity).
We acknowledge that we can only truly help our clients gain competitive advantage through customer-centric strategies when fully listening and adapting to their needs. Continuous cultivation of our team of multidisciplinary decision intelligence practitioners is not only critical, but appealing to us. Experimenting with how we staff both ad hoc projects and retainer arrangements is leading us to maximize the right talent to meet these needs, regardless of where they sit in the organization.
At the end of the day, this will be essential to helping our clients, and our own organization, continuously evolve into the next best version of ourselves with consumers (in all their humanity) as our North Star.
We are also excited to share a video with you where Camille explains how adopting an empathetic stance on a Decision Intelligence approach is crucial to guiding organizations toward gaining and applying wisdom to make better consumer-minded decisions: