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Choosing the Environment that Best Fits your Research Needs

by Raj Manocha.

Platforms. In our industry, the word can spark the idea of innovation or all-out fear. Every day we see new platforms – the latest mobile tool, the latest community tool, the latest VOC tool. The list goes on, and on, and on. There’s no shortage of platforms in the market research space that can help companies collect data. And, the creativity and innovation behind many of these tools is inspiring.

But, every single one has it wrong. These aren’t platforms. These are environments. We’ve been so conditioned to think that technology is what leads our industry but it’s the data. Data is, and will always be, the platform. Essentially, it’s the underlying technology that makes our industry run.  Everything else is just an environment that we layer on to the data. Thinking this way gives us a better perspective of what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re trying to achieve it.

With this thinking, it should be easier to understand the importance of being agnostic and choosing the right environment to collect the right data. Newer tools like crowdsourcing and mobile shouldn’t be hard-pressed to gain acceptance. That being said, they shouldn’t be used to replace technologies that have worked for years either.

As a collective, we need to be willing to play in environments that best fit the research need, not the environment that we know best. I don’t think anyone can argue that research in multiple environments, concurrently, will provide a much more robust understanding versus conducting research in just one environment. As logical as that sounds, it seems to be a difficult buy-in to achieve from many researchers.

Yet, I equate it to your wardrobe at home. You have lots of clothes; some you love wearing all the time, and others you wear once in a while. You wear what suits the occasion. Even if your favourite item is a pair of jeans, you know for a fact that you can’t wear them everywhere you go. Sometimes, you might get creative and push your comfort zone; maybe you’ll add an accessory and wear a colour that you’ve never worn. The one thing you’ll never lose sight of is the platform…you.

Research, like your wardrobe, needs to be catered to what works, without losing sight of the platform – the data. As an industry, we shouldn’t be afraid to push boundaries, be collaborative and have the courage to try different combinations to see what works best.