Inside Rakuten Insight: Alfred Chin, Sales Director, Southeast Asia
“For online research, it is critical to always work with quality online panels so that correspondingly quality insights can be derived.” Read Alfred Chin’s, our Southeast Asia Sales Director, opinion about market research industry nowadays.
J: Hi Alfred, it’s great you can spare some time with us today. Will you introduce yourself to our audience?
A: Hello, a pleasure to get away from daily routines to engage in a conversation.
I joined Rakuten Insight in 2013 when it was still known as AIP Research & Consulting Pte Ltd. Most of the market research industry veterans should be familiar with this interesting name. For the past 6 years, I have been focusing on promoting and developing online research within Southeast Asia.
Whilst Rakuten Insight started running online research fieldwork in Asia since 1997, online research in Southeast Asia only really started to take off in the past couple of years. Global research companies and consulting firms are generally the first to embrace online research over here, while the regional and local players are slowly but surely seeing the benefits of online research.
J: Thank you for that. How has the 6 years been to you?
A: Looking back at how the online research industry has developed, as well as the important roles we have played behind the scenes, it has been an extremely fulfilling 6 years at the company.
We strongly believe in helping our clients grow, and we have been most fortunate to have also grown with them.
When I first joined in March 2013 there was only a small team of IT, finance and operations staff here in Singapore – less than 10 of us. Currently, the team in Singapore is about 15; while our Malaysia team is 5 and still rapidly growing. Incidentally, our entity in Malaysia was recently established in October 2018, shortly after the company was globally re-branded as Rakuten Insight in August 2018.
J: Wow, much progress in a relatively short 6 year. What do you think is the key success factors?
A: At any organization, it’s always the team who determines its magnitude of growth and progression. When I look at our team, I see mostly familiar faces who joined us on our journey years ago and are continuing to do so today. We are probably a rarity in this age when attrition is rampant in most organizations.
Our strong and quality proprietary online panels also supported the company’s growth in the region. While we can have the best research design, strongest analyst, most rigorous formulas etc, but if fieldwork data quality is compromised, then results and findings lose their meaning.
For online research, working with reliable online panels is one of the most critical requirements, and we are privileged to offer them.
In addition, we also differentiate ourselves by having experienced team members who can guide clients unfamiliar with online research. In addition to these, offering round the clock project support, as well as local panel managers who can provide localized insights for our clients.
J: What do you think is the next phase for Online research?
A: In the last decade, there was always chatter about traditional fieldwork methodologies such as face-to-face, CATI etc being replaced by more innovative ways of doing research. To date, these methodologies are very much still in demand together with other more innovative fieldwork methodologies.
Online fieldwork will similarly continue to be in demand, but more innovative ways of running online fieldwork will evolve to supplement current ways.
Businesses are now demanding quicker feedback so short online surveys (or polls) will eventually supplement traditional online research in much bigger ways.
Mobile research was widely touted to serve this purpose as far as 5 years back, but both infrastructure and society were not ready yet. Within the next 5 years, mobile research should then really take off as we finally start seeing companies figuring out how to monetize their large membership bases after delving in big data analyses.
J: That is a good insight and makes perfect sense! Is there any advice?
A: As briefly mentioned earlier, the backbone of any good research piece is always the source of data. For online research, it is critical to always work with quality online panels so that correspondingly quality insights can be derived. It is not uncommon for companies to invest huge amounts into innovative fieldwork technologies for the wow factor, and then having to economize quality due to budget constraints when it comes to online panel sources. Once again, quality of insights can only be as good as its source.
J: Thanks, Alfred! Talk to you soon!