Judging the RAEAWARDS

By John O’Toole (Judge since 2010)

Picking Winners

It is always an honour to judge the RAEAWARDS and see what New Zealand’s top businesses and researchers believe is best practice in Market Research from an effectiveness perspective.

Discussing entries in each award category with a highly experienced panel of judges is always rewarding and often a chance to learn different perspectives on all things research. Sometimes the winners pop out easily, with the judges choosing the same entry and agreeing on why it is a winner. Sometimes the entries are a lot closer and it is difficult to identify clear winners. In these instances, there can be a lot of debate about which entries are the best and why. Considering that entries can range from large companies and projects with huge budgets through to projects for small businesses and “Not for Profits” with tiny budgets; the judges often must use their discretion and work through their different perspectives to arrive the fairest rankings of award-winning entries.

The Importance of Good Story-Telling

Sometimes there are clearly entries that are let down by the way that the entry has been written. The judges can only judge what is before them, so this can be disappointing. A little bit of extra effort especially around the business results achieved component can make the deciding factor between two entries.

Leading from the Front

There is a strengthening trend of technology-enabled innovation happening in the world of research (just like every other part of the business world). Personalisation, Big Data, Small (Micro) Data, IOT, Proximity Marketing, AI, VR, Peer to Peer Computing, Virtualisation, Dashboards, Online Focus Groups, Real-Time Responses, RPA (Automation) and many other technologies all change what can be achieved in terms of customer experiences and insights.

With the growth in digital experiences across all industries, customer experience management becomes even more critical. Today organisations need Design Thinking (Human Centred Design) capabilities and these are driven off their feedback collection and insights capabilities. Technology and Market Research capabilities are both required to develop and maintain compelling customer experiences today. Strong external partners are often the best way to stay competitive in these areas presenting an opportunity for strategic service providers.

My Favourite Categories

The Innovation, Partnership and Sustained Success Awards are particularly rewarding to judge as they are a good barometer of the health of the overall industry. Seeing innovative new research solutions is always a highlight as a judge. This is what everyone is interested in:

1) What are the leading/best practices and;

2) How are they evolving to keep up with clients’ needs in a world where technology is driving so much change on so many fronts?

Based on the standard of entries in the 2018 RAEAWARDS – the New Zealand Research Industry is very well positioned to capitalise on these trends.


Research Now SSI Supreme Award winners - The Thinking Studio & Foodstuffs NZ Ltd


John O'Toole at the 2018 RAEAWARDS



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