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There’s an old Danish proverb – prediction is hazardous, especially about the future. Nevertheless, I will be taking some risks and will make some predictions about changes in market research software in 2017, mainly based on MRDC’s experiences in 2016. The biggest changes I can foresee are 1) the growing importance of online reporting, 2) the growth of online communities for qualitative research and 3) the adoption of online and CAPI research in Asia Pacific.
Predictions turning into reality
Predicting what changes will happen is not easy, but it is easier than predicting when something will happen, particularly in relation to technology and software. It’s perfectly normal to see a new technology emerge, but predicting when refinement, acceptance and general adoption will take place is not easy.
Slow and incomplete adoption
I remember in 1997 when Microsoft allowed you to record and write macros that meant you could automate PowerPoint reports. It seemed an exciting development to me. Yet, 10 years later only a few market research companies were using report automation techniques and almost 20 years later many companies still generate reports in PowerPoint manually with no automation.
The tipping point
Online reporting and online communities have had similar histories in some ways. Tim Macer recently reported in ESOMAR’s Research World magazine that the number of research companies offering or planning to offer online communities was higher in 2009 and 2012 than 2015. Yet, online communities are likely to become more common and more mainstream in research in 2017 as planning to do something does not necessarily equate to actually doing something. A tipping point may be reached where in 2017 where many more research agencies do actually move into this field.
Prediction 1: The case for online reporting
Online reporting is not new. Most large companies have systems in place to provide information online for their various operations. I’ve found it disappointing that research, being an information business, has been slow to provide much of the data it generates online. Cost has been the main barrier rather than a lack of technology or software. However, software products that make it easy and cheap to deliver results online to any device are few in number. Having said that, I have made this a priority in our offering at MRDC as I believe that online reporting will become the norm suddenly and be the main method of distributing research findings.
Is PowerPoint dead?
My predicted growth of online reporting means that the importance of PowerPoint may diminish, but old habits die hard and it is only when there is a wide range of good quality and competitively priced software products that the full transition to online reporting will take place. Online reporting offers so much more than static PowerPoint presentations. It allows interactivity from data users and can be used in live presentations or meetings. PowerPoint isn’t dead, but online reporting is ready to soar.
Prediction 2: Growth of CAPI and online research in Asia
Another prediction for 2017 is the growth of CAPI and online research in Asia. North America and Europe transitioned from paper questionnaires and CATI to online and CAPI research almost, it seemed, “overnight”. I remember attending a conference in USA some years ago where I was surprised to learn that 60% of research was being conducted online in North America whilst Europe was around 10%. This quickly changed in the next two years and the percentages were almost identical whilst growth continued in North America. Changes are taking place in Asia. As recently as 2015, ESOMAR reported that in Asian countries such as Philippines and Indonesia, the percentage of quantitative survey research that was conducted online or by a mobile device was 5% and 3.5% respectively. This is changing. We have seen a huge growth in online and mobile software enquiries and subsequent purchases from us.
Big questionnaires can’t go online
Online means a culture change. Pen and paper questionnaires in Asian countries tend to be long. The sheer length of the questionnaires just cannot be converted to an online platform where respondents can leave at any time. It has meant that buyers of research are having to accept that shorter surveys will give better value for money as online costs are so much lower with results provided more quickly. This change is beginning, but will, I believe, gather speed.
Prediction 3: Growth of Online Communities
Qualitative research has tended to be unaffected by technology, but online communities are starting to come of age and are becoming an accepted research tool. It’s hard to believe that Facebook has grown from 179 million members at the beginning of 2009 to almost 2 billion members today. The advent of websites like Facebook led many in research to believe that the “Facebook of Research” was the next big thing, but it’s taken some time for software and buyers of research to catch up. But, I predict 2017 is going to be the year of acceptance if not, perhaps, the tipping point.
Why I have moved into online communities
I have considered providing software for online communities to be a priority in our offering and hope to be making a big announcement very soon!
Changes, changes, changes
My predictions will not be 100% accurate, but leading MRDC in the right direction to meet our customers changing needs is crucial for MRDC to continue to be successful. I promise to review my predictions at the end of 2017 and comment on what actually happened.
Interested in online or mobile surveys? Click here.
Interested in online communities? Send me an email and I will tell you more!