ARCS Innovators Award

ARCS Innovators Award winners:
Curion and Electronic Arts

Call it old school or call it experience, there is always something phenomenal you notice when you have been around the block. With over 35 years of being part of the research landscape and having the fortune and pleasure of working in tandem with some of the stewards of the industry, it continues to amaze me how rapid change has been.

Recruiting for research initiatives has changed from a rolodex approach to an increased focus on having representative inclusion of the right audience. This reflects our changing society. And of course, technology follows this trend to help us achieve those goals. 

Being a part of Marketing Systems Group has given me the opportunity to work with clients who strive to achieve excellence in their field of research. We traverse between feature requests, recruitment requirements, bugs, and security audits. Although as DataTech geeks, it has been nothing but exhilarating to solve production problems (like a deluge of incoming traffic resulting in a million visitors signing up over a weekend, or requirements from customers to build a data warehouse that can help them mine and understand consumer behavior), this year we have certainly pushed our limits.

We decided we really wanted to understand what makes our customers true innovators. Not only that, we also wanted to show our appreciation and share their innovation. With that agenda in mind, we went on a hunt to find the stewards of today, the shakers and movers of our customers who have gone beyond the basic tech stack and pushed the envelope.

The next challenge was, how do we identify them? What are the common traits of these stewards? As I continued to ponder this with the team, we agreed on three things that would help us identify them:

  1. I truly want to understand my research participants so that I can make better decisions on how to improve their experience. How do I get more data and information to help me make these decisions?
  2. I want to make my team efficient so I can do more research. How can I use technology to automate and streamline the process?
  3. How do I make my research community more inclusive and representative of my research?

Armed with these questions, I started working with my team to map out all the work that we have done the past year coupled with our knowledge of what our customers have implemented within their organization, whether on our platform or outside. And Voilà! It is so amazing to see what they have done, and we are enormously proud to be a part of it.

  • An accessibility friendly participant portal so no one is excluded from research.
  • From check-in, to reminders, to replying to cancelation messages (automating where possible) and creating process flows to seamlessly handle communication with research participants.
  • Building complex data warehouse and KPI dashboards to keep the entire team abreast of the ops, as well as providing insights to decision makers.
  • Using workflows and other tools to automate repetitive tasks improving the overall efficiency of the team.

This is where I realized that true innovation does not happen because we at MSG built something cool. True innovation happens when what we build serves as a tool and is used by the craftsman of our industry to solve real world problems.

Here is where I raise my hat and smile at the winners of 2023 ARCS Innovators Award. We are inspired by what you have accomplished.

Remembering Dale Kulp

On what would have been Dale Kulp’s 66th birthday, we wanted to take a moment to remember a man who not only is responsible for the founding and creation of Marketing Systems Group but made innumerable contributions to the statistical sampling and survey research fields.  Dale’s career was already flush with accomplishment before he founded Marketing Systems Group in 1987.  He previously had worked for industry stalwarts Chilton, Bruskin and ICR (Now SSRS).  With MSG, he envisioned the development of a PC based in-house RDD sample generation system (GENESYS) that would become the cornerstone product of the company.

Aside from being the driving force behind the industry’s first in house sampling system, Dale was integral in the development of list-assisted RDD sampling methodology at a commercial level, which revolutionized the process for reaching probability-based samples of households. Through his many technical notes and various publications he remained vigilant about addressing the operational issues challenging the viability of this methodology, particularly those resulting from the unfolding changes in the US telephony.

Dale also started several Omnibus telephone surveys that not only continue to thrive 20 years after their launch; they have in at least one situation created their company.  Centris Marketing Science was created by Dale along with Paul Rappaport after realizing the value of the census block level data that the Omnibus survey collected.

Realizing that MSG should not be a one-trick pony, Dale continued to pursue other product lines that would benefit the survey research industry.  He assembled a team that included current MSG President Jerry Oberkofler and Vice President Reggie Blackman to develop the first automated screening process: GENESYS-ID.  Utilizing the technology and philosophy of GENESYS ID and applying it the survey research industry, PRO-T-S was born.  PRO-T-S was the first predictive dialer built exclusively for the research industry.  In 2004, Dale brought the ARCS Panel Management software under the MSG umbrella. ARCS is now one of the leading software packages in the sensory and pharmaceutical industries as well as a recruitment tool for large civic organizations.

Since Dale’s passing in late 2009, MSG has grown substantially but has remained attached to the vision, products and protocols that Dale Kulp laid out back in 1987.  Not only do the MSG folks wish Dale a Happy Birthday but we thank him for his vision, contribution and foresight.