Spotlight on Yudan Sugiharto: Our Qualitative Research Director in Indonesia

Yudan Sugiharto

This month, we catch up with Yudan Sugiharto, Qualitative Research Director at InsightAsia Indonesia. He demonstrates how, with the right analyst, research is a tool to make bolder and wiser business decisions across the region.

Hi Yudan! Tell us a bit about your role at InsightAsia...

I am the Qualitative Business Head here in Indonesia. That means not only working closely with our clients to bring them consumer insight, but also managing budgets and resourcing behind the scenes.

How long have you been working at InsightAsia?

I've been here since 2009, which includes the several years I spent working on international projects at InsightAsia's regional office in Singapore. So it's been a long time! I guess that’s proof of how much I like it here.

InsightAsia is a place that grants you flexibility to seek out new challenges and risks. A place that drives you to innovate.

What has changed at InsightAsia Indonesia since you started?

We're now embracing the millennial generation to shape the future of research in InsightAsia and Indonesia. So to succeed and innovate in the research industry, it's important to trust the instincts of our young team.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I am first and foremost a researcher. I love understanding humans with all their intricacies and inconsistencies. 

But it doesn't stop there. Each business is a unique creature of its own, and, just like humans, every brand has its own characteristics and limitations. Understanding and navigating around these challenges to make sure that our research really benefits the client is what I love the most!

What does your typical working day look like?

I'm a morning person. All my best, most beautiful and creative work happens in the morning. I was not built to burn the midnight oil, as by that time, I just don’t have any oil left to burn. I like to start work at 8.30am after a full breakfast and some play time with my lovely daughter.

Yudan Sugiharto

Afternoons are more about meetings, discussions and administrative work. By 5.30pm, I am usually getting ready for my bike ride home to spend some more quality time with my daughter.

This 'morning is best’ principle also applies for when I am out in the field. The more sessions I can do before 2pm, the better.

What makes qualitative research interesting to you?

Personally, I like that our work requires us to make well-informed and calculated decisions, as well as take a few risks! While research is a means to make wiser decisions. I love the way the information from research can empower decision-makers.

Qualitative research is exciting because it is tasked to map a very complicated being: humans as consumers or users. Finding patterns and inconsistencies between what people do and say to uncover the human truth is what we enjoy the most!

How does UX Research differ from other forms of Qualitative Research?

Many differentiate between qualitative and UX research, but to me they are quite similar. The foundation principles are the same: discovering human truth from what people do, say and how they react to things.

Besides the slight differences in methodologies used, the main difference is how the researcher uses the learned information. UX research information is more often used with a design-thinking mindset, while qualitative research information is more often used with a business-oriented mindset. UX research thinks how it could shape behaviour, while qualitative research thinks of ways to influence actions.

What kinds of qualitative and UX research does your team carry out in Indonesia?

At InsightAsia Indonesia, we carry out a wide range of research to explore needs, define opportunities, evaluate ideas and shape the user experience.

While our insights are business-centric, the research methodologies we use are consumer-centric. We find this is the best way to capture the real insights behind human behaviour and actions.

From online self-ethnographies to capture real life product experience to in-the-moment immersions to capture real beverage decision-making and the drinking experience, we make sure that we capture unbiased, individual reactions within every project.

What does the market research industry look like in Indonesia at the moment?

There is an opportunity to increase the value perception of research through more researchers believing in their work and collaborating with clients to show how impactful research learning can be for a business.

Research is not just data. With the right analyst, it is a tool to help our clients make wiser business decisions.

Do you face any challenges when carrying out research in Indonesia?

Indonesians live by intuition, which can make us inconsistent.

To uncover the human truth, we really need to spend time observing, listening and experiencing everyday life as it happens. This means embracing the distances, bumpy roads and travel time required to get beyond Jakarta into secondary towns and villages.

What expectations do you have for market research in 2018?

I believe creating differentiating propositions and experiences will be key when building successful brands and products among Indonesian millennials and Generation Z.

Besides using big data to map out behavioural patterns, more immersive and experiential research is needed to find meaningful connections with consumers or users. More personal connections will be critical for brands wanting to develop in 2018.

We are looking forward to more ethnographic immersions, self-ethnos, online curhat station (‘curhat’ refers to a casual act of opening up your heart, and this research method is used to capture gaps - which can be emotional, experiential and also functional - about the life of a product or experience), consumer design collaborations, ethnographic observations, and much more in the near future.

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