Window into the future of research?

A recent article on influx insights got me thinking about the future of market research...what will it look like in 20 years time? The article is about the CEO of supermarket chain Asda, taking some bold strategic moves and encouraging the customers to participate in the business. Here is the quote that got me thinking

"...Asda plans to put customers at the center of it's business, and looking for customers to do and be more than participants in simplistic market research".

It seems to be a fairly solid trend, that companies are continually finding ways to encourage people to participate in their business and share the emotional or monetary rewards.

Encouraging people to participate also ties into the adult-to-adult theme our agency identified a few months back. Companies are now re-thinking about how they used to speak down to consumers by playing an advert on TV with catchy jingles and call to actions. Now they are thinking about how they can engage in two way dialogue with their customers in an adult-to-adult way (e.g. Queensland Tourism and Kraft have both done this successfully and reaped the rewards)

So what does this mean for research if the gap between the customer and the company continues to get smaller and smaller?