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CRC 2023 Review & Takeaways: Navigating the AI Era


Straight from the tarmac and into the researcher’s den, Chicago greets you with a brisk chill that reminds you why it’s called the windy city. Attending the CRC conference was an exciting foray into the world of research and insights. For first-timers like me, it’s a unique blend of overcoming awkward conversations and valuable learning along the way!

As you step into the conference hall for the inaugural session, it’s evident that the theme will be Artificial Intelligence (AI). Amidst the excitement, a fundamental question lingered in the minds of researchers and insights professionals. How can we keep the human element alive as AI continues to transform our operations? And is there a lurking fear that AI might eventually lead to global destruction?

It appears that humans are safe for now. However, what’s undeniable is that AI can either be a powerful ally or a formidable foe.

So how can we harness AI to amplify our insights?

It begins with breaking free from old research habits. The traditional divide between quantitative and qualitative approaches needs to be bridged. To embrace a more holistic approach that will allow us to truly activate insights, we must go back to the drawing board and ask: How can we craft a compelling story with the data at hand? And how can we foster a sense of community among individuals who share these common interests? Doing this will enable you to look beyond methodologies and harness the real power of your insights.

Consider the genius of Henry Ford during the Industrial Revolution. While many before him tried and failed to market the automobile, Ford took a different path. He recognized that people had a deep attachment to their horses, so he reframed the narrative. Instead of urging consumers to abandon their beloved equines, he positioned cars as a modernized extension. He activated the insight that consumers wanted to keep their horses and used it to create a community. Even today, we see the legacy of this approach in the seamless integration of terms like “horsepower,” “Mustang,” “Bronco,” and many more in the automotive industry.

Start with what your customers know and build a bridge from their familiar world to yours. Tailor your approach to the unique demands of each project and don’t get caught up on methodologies. Utilize tools such as AI to support this process, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to streamline every process. It can turn into a slippery slope and trying to eliminate friction may cause you to backslide more than leaning into it.

In fact, friction shouldn’t be looked at as an impediment to productivity at all. In the world of sports, running relies on friction; it’s the force that propels athletes forward and allows them to change direction swiftly. In many ways the research arena is similar, a certain amount of friction can be the catalyst for propelling innovation. Friction can promote creativity, critical thinking, and the development of more practical and robust solutions. Researchers who embrace and leverage friction as an integral part of their work are better equipped to address real-world problems.

In summary, the CRC conference in Chicago provided a glimpse into the ever-evolving landscape of research and insights in the age of Artificial Intelligence. As we continue to grapple with the question of how to balance technology with the human touch, one thing remains clear – AI is here to stay and we have a lot to learn in order to use it more

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