I'm at #NetGain8 today, and thought I would blog live. These may be fairly brief, but this conference is usually a great one. Plus, I have to moderate the final panel, so I do need to pay attention.
THE FUTURE OF RESEARCH - Jeffrey Henning
Jeffrey Henning from Researchscape International is talking about the future of the MR industry. bitly/NETGAIN8 has the slides, he says. He drew a beautiful metaphor about how roads and transportation have changed, but we still need to go from place to place faster than our feet will carry us. Methods change, fundamental needs do not.
Surveys are a victim of their own success. There is a lot of pressure on surveys, including length, badly written, too complex, declining response rates. And even more, behavioral economics has made it clear that direct questioning methods may not be very useful, because they rely on us being good observers of our own behavior and intentions.
However, some of the things driving growth are: mobile surveys, micro-surveys, DIY systems, automation, and cool features (think feature wars among software and solution providers) like the ability to capture emotions.
Proprietary analytics is one of the ways companies are competing in this environment. Better dashboards that reduce the need for human work to provide specific views, like single location results, for example. Automatic weighting, which is not very good now, is likely to become better as companies keep iterating. Automatic coding of open-end responses is getting better, especially where the answers are very short (e.g. what brand, what tv show). Statwing.com, for example, automatically applies the appropriate statistical method to the data, meaning someone without statistical knowledge can do good analysis. Crowd-shaped surveys change the questions based on early answers. Better weightings, text analytics of long verbatims, and a lot of aggressive innovation will characterize the supplier environment.
Things he thinks we should do to differentiate are interesting. Several of them are already being done by good qualitative people. e.g. infographic reports, posters, storytelling, running workshops to help internalize findings, and increased qualitative analysis. [Personally, I do a lot of these things, and many of my colleagues do as well. So my conclusion here is that the statistical part of the MR community is catching up to the qualitative side. Not sure if I like that trend, but it's still a good idea.]