50 years in the making: IFF’s journey from 1965 – 2018!

With just over a week until IFF’s office move we have been reminiscing, raiding the archives and reflecting on our 50-year heritage. We thought now would be the perfect time to describe the different stages that have led us to this point.

Foundation and principals: 1965 – 1995

Industrial Facts and Forecasts was set up by Lord MacIntosh of Haringey as the first company to undertake business-specific research for Government, providing survey-based findings into business markets. Lord MacIntoshs’ political passions for education and his personal faith in the ability of individuals from all backgrounds to grow, develop and rise to the top, formed the original driving force for the business which still endures today. This attitude and value system encapsulates the ethos at IFF and our actions have always been led by an ambition to incite positive change.

Read about IFF’s purpose and values.

A not so recent press release announcing our office move in 1988! See how things have changed by reading our 2018 announcement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovation and change: 1995 – 2015

The next significant stage in IFF’s growth was the broadening of our offer to a full range of services and markets, and the shift to a younger team of Directors who bought out the long-standing board through the 90’s and 00’s. This (now slightly older) young guard has taken the company forward to the present day, encouraging a people focused policy of promoting from within and innovation in the approach to projects as well as an acute awareness of the importance of training and ongoing development. Meet some of the team here.

Before there were smartphones. IFF celebrate 30 years in the research industry in 1995. Check out our retro snaps:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growth and development: 2015 – Present

The final stage has come in more recent years in response to the increasing challenges and competitive pressures of the information age. IFF has seen growth year on year and has become recognised as one of the UK’s leading independent research agencies, working on large-scale projects with clients who share our ambition for positive change all while retaining our signature bespoke, people orientated and flexible feel.

Visit the case studies section of our site for details of some of our key projects.

In 2015 we celebrated our 50th year in the research industry at Tower Bridge London, coincidently beside our new offices at St. Magnus House, Lower Thames Street.

 

IFF hire super 6 in a busy April!

IFF Research have appointed 3 new Research Managers, Daniel Salamons, Isabel Kearney and Emma Moselen as well as 3 Trainee Research Executives through their graduate recruitment program.

  • Isabel brings over 5 years’ mixed methods experience working at educational marketing and communications agency Edcoms. She also has previous experience working at the Research Partnership as part of their healthcare research team.
  • Emma has over 7 years’ social and public policy research experience, principally In New Zealand working for the University of Auckland. Most recently she has been working for UK agency, Accent.
  • Daniel joins IFF’s Learning and Skills team from Shift Learning, a research agency specialising in education research, where he spent over 3 years.

Matthew Foxwell, Kyle Robertson and Manuel Domingos are the latest new starters to join IFF through their graduate recruitment programme which will see them support the agency across their 7 key sectors.

David Vivian, Research Director and Head of Recruitment at IFF commented: “We’ve made a number of valuable additions to our ever-growing team this month. We are delighted to welcome a mix of experienced Research Managers and enthusiastic graduates with more exciting business and staff announcements coming very soon.”

Moving on to bigger and brighter things! IFF will be moving premises in May 2018

We are very excited to announce that this May IFF is moving to a bigger and brighter central London location right along the Thames to St. Magnus House, 3 Lower Thames Street, EC3R 6HD. Directions are nice and easy because we’re located between almost every London landmark with the Shard and HMS Belfast out in front, Tower Bridge to the left and London Bridge on the right. Check out our main view below, we’re looking forward to more sunsets like this!

The move reflects how we have grown as a company. Once young and bright eyed, moving to the up and coming Hoxton ‘before it was cool’ (over 15 years ago!) and now an established agency with a clear vision (admittedly a victim of gentrification and inflated rent prices), ready to take on the next challenge.

We have been proud to call Hoxton our home for the last 15 years but this has been an amazing opportunity for us to build a space that better suits our approach to work and to further optimise the office layout and facilities for staff across all departments on one floor in a collaborative working space. You can see the development from an empty floor towards a modern, functioning office with the move just around the corner (we’ll be sharing more pictures of the development on our social media platforms over the coming weeks):

This move represents a shift in geographical location but also a shift towards improved working practices and capabilities with additional collaborative workspaces, events space for our research seminars and our own on-site viewing facility. Keep an eye on our blog and social media pages throughout this month where we will be sharing details of our journey from Chart Street to St. Magnus House as well as our plans for the future.

 

Feeling the love: Feedback from some of our not so secret admirers

We love our clients and we always appreciate their feedback but this year we have really been blown away by some their kind words. For this weeks valentines special and to kick off a new regular feature, #FeedbackFriday, we wanted to say a big thank you to everyone and share some of our favourite feedback from the last 12 months!

IFF client feedback:

“Thorough understanding of subject matter and wider context. Great project delivery and extremely adaptable in delivery of the project around our restrictions / requirements”

Sian Lewis – Legal Ombusman


“Very thorough, strong analysis, good writing style in the research report, very flexible and customer-orientated”

Greg Crouch – EHRC


“Project delivery could not have been improved”

Simon Brownlee – Jigsaw


“Flexible approach and good understanding of what we were trying to aim for”

Ian Hill – CITB


“Thoughtful, make proactive suggestions, take responsibility for timelines, chase up when necessary, always looking to ensure that recommendations are realistic and actionable”

Sara Jones – FCO


“Good overall communication and understanding of customer needs. The report was very well received by internal customers”

Sonia Carrera – HMRC


“Recruitment was high quality, support with discussion guides and questionnaires”

Kerry Matheson – SLC


“Good contact where we had queries on the research and attractively designed outputs”

Yuan-Huang Chow – HMRC


“The research was well planned and very thorough and provided more than adequate detail to support effective decisions at this end. The regular communication maintained throughout the project meant we were up to speed with progress”

Gaganan Awano – ONS


“Excellent quality data collection and analysis, regular updates on the research and any problems encountered”

Adina Huma – DWP


“Professional staff and attentive. Very strong on the quant, kept us abreast of developments well, delivered full sample on time”

Max Malagoni – CMA

Keeping it real: Key considerations for engaging, empowering and inspiring Generation Z

Last week IFF attended the MRS Kids and Youth research conference hoping to learn more about the next generation, Generation Z, and more importantly how to engage them with insight.

The day started with an opening from the chair and we were all very proud to be familiar with some of the crazes that rocked the world in 2017 like ‘the floor is lava’, ‘bottle flipping’ and ‘fidget spinners’. Our delight at being down with the kids was short lived however as we were told that these fads were so last year and a quick survey of the room revealed that only one delegate was young enough to qualify as Gen Z having been born post 1995. We were out of touch once again but ready to learn!

An introduction to Gen Z

The line-up was made up of a host of youth brands and young speakers from the likes of BBC Radio 1 Extra, IKEA and Channel 4 as well as several research organisations who have done work with this age generation in the last year.

Martin Oxley from BuzzBack revealed 8 truths about Gen Z in the ABC’s of generation Z. The group were shown to be anxious, lonely and quite stressed. This was said to be due to the pressures of coming of age during economic and environmental crisis, and spending their lives online – having to keep up the appearance of having the perfect life on social media. Maybe because of this pressure, compared to Millennials, Gen Z are more privacy oriented and more like to ‘press pause’ on the digital world and unplug.

One of the most interesting topics was Gender and Gen Z. We’ve all heard the term gender fluid and Emily Porter-Salmon of Sign Salad talked about some of the key shifts in attitude from Millennials to Gen Z. For this generation, the lines have blurred and gender is no longer defined by a person’s sex. There are no correct behaviours and people can identify as whatever gender they like and this can change from day to day. Her message was that we need to be aware of this new outlook and question our own predispositions.

In The new rules of engagement for advertising to Gen Z we were introduced to one of the key take outs and a common thread for the day, the idea that this group loves choice. The advice given was that immersive, multi-platform experiences work best for engagement and that Gen Z enjoy controlling everything from music and filters to advert outcomes and pathways through voting and skippable content.

Keeping it real: authenticity, honesty and imperfection

The next theme that emerged was the importance of authenticity and honesty or, to put it in old people speak, keeping it real. In the panel discussion about finding authenticity in modern media products we were told that imperfection, mistakes and real people resonate most with Gen Z. The stars of today are individuals like Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and Scarlett Moffatt who are honest and don’t care about revealing the quirkier sides of their personalities. Celebrities are no longer seen as unreachable. Social platforms remove the barriers to connecting with anyone and, in an age where everyone has a profile or persona to upkeep, those who shine a light on all aspects of their life and don’t hide behind a mask are given the greatest respect.

Are Generation Z really that different?

By the end of the day it felt like we were less distant from the teens of today. Although the fads, technologies and fashions have changed Generation Z are fundamentally not that different from everyone else. They are value driven, they have insecurities and they want to be understood and accepted. It may seem like mobiles, apps and online games are their best friends but they are human after all and the best way of ‘connecting’ with them is to recognise, acknowledge and embrace the fact that they are real people too.

The 2017 MRS Awards: A glitzy and glamorous evening but IFF come away empty handed

The Market Research Society pulled out all the stops for this year’s industry awards at the fabulous, starlight Supernova venue in Embankment Gardens. Over 900 excited research professionals (including IFF’s team of 10!) were greeted to a champagne reception for the largest turnout in the awards history.

The evening was hosted by comedian Susan Calman of Strictly fame and after a 5-star meal we began to rattle through the 25 award categories across numerous research disciplines. There were plenty of worthy winners and enthusiastic celebrations and we couldn’t help but get our hopes up when it came to the Research Live category and our nomination for the Best Place to Work Award.

We won’t lie, we were very disappointed not to win (losing out to Opinium Research) but in true IFF spirit we took the opportunity to celebrate what was a proud achievement for our company and our team. We will continue to embrace the people first approach to business that so defines who we are (you can read more about why we were nominated for this award here).

We are honoured to have been nominated once again and would like to congratulate Opinium Research and all the other winners this year.

All we want for Xmas this year is an MRS Best Place to Work Award

Hollywood may have rolled out the red carpet back in September but now it’s time for the world of research to follow suit ahead of “the biggest event in the industry’s social calendar”, the annual MRS Awards.

At IFF we’ve already begun dusting off the tuxedoes and sifting through the frocks ahead of Monday night’s event where we’ve been nominated for the Best Place to Work award for the second time in three years. Whether we win or lose isn’t really that important at this stage and whether or not we’re recognised as the best place to work in the industry, we’re pretty confident that you’d have to go a long way to get even close to matching our team.

Shining a light on our shining lights

This award honours those that place people at the heart of their strategy, something we see as being fundamental to success at IFF. We endeavour to provide illumination in a world which is characterised by information overload, and thereby to help organisations, businesses and individuals to make better-informed decisions.

Our research is done for people, through people and by people. And we believe that the best way of achieving the results that keep our clients coming back to us time and again is by developing a work culture built on a foundation of respect and trust which allows all of our staff to contribute to the fullness of their considerable abilities.

Our team is made up of some of the most hardworking, friendly and imaginative individuals you could possibly find and there is a unique sense of community stemming from a conscious encouragement of work-social balance that has created a camaraderie among staff at all levels and functions.

“IFF combines a bright, enthusiastic and people-centric service with innovative data collection methodologies to ensure the delivery of an exceptional end-product.” Matthew Ashman – HESA

Skills development

Career progression is woven into our fabric and we support staff in developing skills across 6 areas (Research, Client, Technical, Business, Soft skills, Specialist) through our unique ‘Learning and Development Pathway’. This structure has been developed by volunteers from our team who wish to improve upon their own leadership skills and includes a blend of internal, MRS, SRA, AQR and other external courses and conferences which are continuously reviewed and updated following recommendations from staff. It’s important to us that all voices are heard and people are consulted at each stage along the pathway to ensure our structure is meeting their own individual needs.

A gold standard in fieldwork

It’s an obvious truth but one which is so often over-looked in our industry that our team includes interviewers as well as executives. IFF has around 300 interviewers on our payroll at any time and this team is one of our strongest assets. we are one of the last remaining agencies to offer a truly ‘onsite’ telephone research solution. Within the team there are opportunities for consistent performers to move into supervisor and management roles within the fieldwork team and beyond. Two of our current Directors started out as telephone interviewers!

At IFF operations and research work as one cohesive team, a direct result of the open and collaborative approach of both departments and the people who manage them. Being human first is not only one of our core values but an important approach we take to working. Our people are friends as well as colleagues and always aim for a Win Win.

Awarding excellence

The winner of this award will demonstrate innovative thinking, enlightened approaches and new initiatives that make their organisation a great place to work and we are confident that IFF not only meet but exceed these classifications.

It is a positive reflection of how our industry has grown over the 50 years that IFF have been in operation that all nominees will be in a similar position and we wish the very best to all agencies nominated across all categories, commending them on their commitment to driving our sector forward. By continuing to push each other we will ensure that our industry not only survives, but thrives during these challenging times and we look forward to a great night regardless of the result.

What it’s like to work at IFF

Research futures seminar summary: The future is closer than you think – what technology means for research

The third event in IFF’s seminar series, The Future is closer than you think – what technology means for research, took place last Thursday evening at Skills Matter, Moorgate, the UK’s largest venue dedicated to technology events. It was an appropriate setting for a gathering of professionals from across research to discuss the technological revolution we have all found ourselves a part of, and more importantly what impact it will have on our future.

IFF Director and Chair for the evening Rowan Foster started proceedings by introducing the concept of the next technological revolution (otherwise known as the “4th industrial revolution”). This movement is undeniably changing not only the way we live, with the invention of Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D-printing and driverless vehicles, but also the jobs we do and how we do them. An interesting and exciting time to be alive no doubt – but Rowan raised the question of whether, professionally, technology should be something we should embrace or something we fear? And perhaps more importantly what impact it will have for us as researchers in 10, 20, 30 years’ time?

The seminar was a thought-provoking, sometimes funny, and more than occasionally sobering evening giving the audience a chance to gaze through the looking glass towards a dystopian future.

Two possible futures of the profession

Daniel Susskind, co-author of best-selling book, The Future of the Professions, and Fellow of Economics at Oxford University, spoke about two possible futures for society: one in which our existing approach to work become more streamlined and efficient through use of technology (though remains broadly similar), or alternatively, a rather more chilling future – at least for those of us who are not computer scientists – in which machines ultimately displace professionals.

He took us on a fascinating whistle-stop tour of the research covered in his book, from the birth of artificial intelligence to its implications for professional jobs.

Artificial Intelligence began with the idea of a human expert passing on their knowledge to a computer system, by writing down instructions for it to follow. Consequently, people initially thought that computer knowledge would be limited to what a human expert knew. Of course, this did not account for exponential growth in processing power, which sees machine learning now far surpassing that of humans. This ultimately has great repercussions for the world of work as we know it.

Daniel explained that the idea of professions (medicine, law, research) originated within a print-based industrial society, where individuals became guardians of the specialist knowledge of that profession (due to a natural limitation in the amount of knowledge a human can realistically learn). He went on to point out that a profession is not a homogenous thing, but can be broken down into a set of tasks which are often quite repetitive and could easily be learnt by a machine. He shared some brilliant, quick fire examples of industries, and individual companies, leading the way in harnessing technology to automate some of the more routine ‘tasks’ of that professional; one of which was the Catholic Church’s Confession app (worth a Google if you’ve not heard of it before!).

Applying this to research, he forecasts a move away from bespoke service and greater automation: perhaps we don’t need to start anew with every research question we face, but can use machines to our advantage by automating the routine tasks.

The keynote speech ended by giving us a rather stark choice: to either try to compete with computers, or to build them ourselves.

It’s not all doom and gloom

By contrast, the panel made up of Mark Carrigan (SRA trustee and Digital Fellow at The Sociological Review Foundation), Olivier Legris (Head of Strategy at Future Platforms) and Katie Metzler (Head of Research Methods Innovation at SAGE Publishing) were more optimistic about what technology might mean for the research profession.

They discussed several issues, from how we will upskill ourselves and whether social scientists need data science skillsets, to whether ‘big data’ may contradict traditional market research ‘small data’ findings. We will be sharing a guest blog from Mark Carrigan exploring some of these views and the implications of technology for research early next week!

Ultimately the audience were left considering the idea that machines could enable us to do things that were previously thought impossible, speed things up through automation and that there might in fact be more of a role for humans in the research process going forward, to ask the interesting questions.

IFF Seminar: The Future is Closer Than You Think – What Technology Means for Research (23rd November 2017)

As we move deeper into the digital age we are presented with a unique set of challenges, as well as exciting opportunities. Harnessing the power of technology to improve efficiency and reduce time, cost and burden benefits commissioners, participants and researchers alike. But the flipside is that technology not only enhances what we do but also displaces it.

Our keynote speaker Daniel Susskind (Fellow in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, and former policy adviser in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit) will be sharing insights from his best-selling book, The Future of the Profession. In this book he sets out two futures both of which lie in technology. One future is a reassuringly familiar, more efficient version of what we have today. The other is transformational – a gradual replacement of professionals by increasingly capable systems.

What this means for research (panel discussion):

A panel of experts will respond by reflecting on what this means for our own profession, including:

  • Which elements of the research process will benefit from technology/automation?
  • Which elements of the research process will benefit from retaining a ‘human’ element.
  • What skills will the researchers of the future need?

Keynote speaker:

  • Daniel Susskind – Fellow in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford University and author of the best-selling book The Future of the Profession.

Panel:

  • Mark Carrigan – SRA trustee and Digital Fellow at The Sociological Review Foundation.
  • Katie Metzler – Head of Research Methods Innovation at SAGE Publishing.
  • Olivier Legris – Head of Strategy at Future Platforms.

Chair:

  • Rowan Foster – Director, IFF Research.

Register your interest by following the link here.

IFF sponsor Crystal Palace U14 Ladies Academy of Excellence 2017/18

We are proud to announce that IFF are the new training kit sponsor of the Crystal Palace U14 Ladies Academy of Excellence 2017/18. At IFF we are always looking for opportunities to make a difference through our work and we are delighted to be able to support young people’s participation in sport through our sponsorship of the Eagles academy team.

Engaging in team activities and regular exercise is incredibly important for children and young people. Beyond the obvious improvement to physical health, engagement in team sports can have a positive impact on mental health, social skills and increases the likelihood of being active later in life.

In 2014 IFF completed a study into female participation in sport for Sport England offering recommendations for how to attract and sustain participation among women. We are pleased to be taking an active role in this area once again by supporting the stars of the future.

Read about IFF’s work with Sport England here.