When you boil it down to its core, qualitative research is about using communication methods to understand how people think, feel and what drives them to do what they do. The focus group facility was an application of the family kitchen table or the business conference room. The current growth in online qualitative coincides with the explosion of “social media” which demonstrates the ease with which people can connect and communicate via the internet.
So, what is next? The future may just be in mobile phone research. Its difficult to imagine at this point what form that takes but it is equally difficult to argue against the persistent march of technology off our desktops and onto our mobile phones. The new Apple iPhone being introduced this week will have 100 new apps and many new features for communicating and obtaining information. Also, IBM has just announced a $100 million investment in mobile phone research over the next 5 years. The research will focus on: mobile enterprise enablement, emerging market mobility and enterprise end-user mobile experiences. Analytics, security, privacy and user interface, and navigation will be also be covered by the research effort.
‘Mobile devices are gradually becoming ubiquitous,’ said project leader Guruduth Banavar. ‘We hope this research will serve the millions of people who now use their mobile devices for managing large forces of enterprise field workers, conducting financial transactions, entertainment, shopping, and more.’
Concurrently, 20/20 Research has seen tremendous interest in our mobile text messaging product for uses ranging from gentle homework reminders to in-depth logitudinal research to recruiting assistance.
For those of us who have been in qualiative for many years, our world is changing almost too rapidly to keep up. The future a bit intimidating. It is also very intriguing. The potential is vast. Hang on. The qualitative future may be a lot of things but dull is not one of them.