Much like other categories of the discipline, business research methods cover a variety of contexts and scenarios. So what precisely is research? Distinguishing between theory and practice can be all-important, particularly in today’s market. From the get-go, there are two major sections to consider.
- Qualitative research assesses interpersonal reactions to products or content, as well investigates a target market’s consumer choices and lifestyle
- Quantitative research, meanwhile, uses numerical methods to analyze performance and reception from a large sample pool
Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. Qualitative data is a good starting point to inform product direction, as it helps designers conceptualize the project’s target market. While excellent for averaging a central market, however, qualitative data is also time-intensive: average interviews last 45 minutes or more, and typically include 6 or less participants. Those looking for larger metrics turn to quantitative assessments, which typically analyze a large number of participants who, in turn, provide snippets of input via surveys or other means.
Qualitative Research: A New Presence on the Web
Business methodology itself is changing strides, and research methods must follow suit. Market opinions are changing at perpetually faster and faster rates. Staying relevant requires staying active online as much, if not more, as offline. Quantitative research immediately blossomed in this new environment, thanks both to large subject pools and internet-exclusive rebates. Qualitative research, however, requires emotive detail when using methods like focus groups and interviews. Only recently available, HD-streaming video with the same observational quality as the human eye now makes online qualitative methods far more feasible.
New-found applicability is the prime benefit of online qualitative research. Content and product creation are exceedingly faster than traditional qualitative research, which requires months of juggling logistics like travel and facility rentals. Through the net, qualitative methods of research can again inform direction, features lists, and other project elements. If today’s market is any indication, customer engagement needs to leverage new trends or concerns in smaller and smaller time-frames. Development teams have the specialized tools they require to keep pace with market demand, and now so does market research.
Online Capability, Agile Compatibility
Updating technology enables researchers to access insight faster. Best applying said insight, however, also requires more dynamic processes. Once the domain of software developers, Agile processes are becoming more mainstream with each passing year. A system of iterative releases that use customer feedback to adjust and improve, Agile methods center on addressing customer’s immediate, web 2.0-influenced opinions and reactions. Implementing such processes can be complex, but the addition of online qualitative research is a major asset.
Much like technology, market expectations will likely stay in a perpetual rate of faster uptake and greater democratization. Qualitative insight via webcams delivers the information that developers, Agile or otherwise, require to ensure their products and content are relevant to their markets. Just as importantly, it also offers access to a far wider variety of voices and backgrounds. Experience our demo or about page to learn more about taking your market research methods to the next level.
Zach Simmons is the Founder and president of Discuss.io. Zach has 20 years of experience building software. Prior to founding Discuss.io, he was the Technical Product Manager for Amazon Web Services (S3) where he ran the team that built the infrastructure that now powers a significant percentage of the modern Internet. Zach holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
An entrepreneurial leader, Zach is passionate about building disruptive and agile SaaS based market research startups as an alternative to traditional market research. Seeing a need for change within the Industry, Zach launched Discuss.io, bringing Market Research to the digital age.