Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Problem with Surveys

Paul Neto tries to keep things simple on his blog. Last Monday, he posted his vision on why today's market research surveys are broken. Visit the original here.

He takes us through a short history of surveys and research methods ever since central location became en vogue in the late 1950s and ends with the introduction of a couple of MR firms who are getting some recognition for doing innovative things today.

He ends his post by saying that ... online research is a sector that has been growing incredibly fast... ...Though, due to lack of innovation there are many concerns in it's direction. Some major firms are even starting to pull away from using online research due to the rise of professional survey takers, poor methodologies, weak panels and questionable sampling techniques.

Nearly 10 years ago, we were all trying to justify online research to clients. Today just about everyone is online because it's the place to be. The next generation of research is not far around the corner. It really only takes a little innovation to lead to big changes...

I do applaud his post and agree with almost everything he says. I recommend you visit the original here. But I wonder: how should we be preparing ourselves as an industry? The answer I believe must be found somewhere in the shift which will undoubtedly happen over the next 12 years: we will move away from measuring "claimed behaviour" (the whats, whens, wheres and how much) toward analysing "real behaviour". The only thing left in the near future that we may still need to ask for is the why. All the other Ws can be measured simply because (research) data will become a commodity now that all new technologies today are based upon the concept of at least having huge databases.

So on one hand we should have more "web 2.0" type of communication with respondents: really engage them by using survey methods which facilitate creativity, collaboration and sharing of experiences and information on one hand. On the other hand we should facilitate those companies owning the databases to make data accessible and transform digits into data into information into knowledge into insights...

Drop me a line, I am interested in hearing your thoughts!