By Sami Kaipa
As we bring a fully self-serve GlimpzIt offering live to the market in the next few days, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the revolution that is DIY research. The value of DIY research tools in a word – TREMENDOUS. I don’t think many sensible individuals disagree at this point. The concept of DIY, even just a few years after its birth, doesn’t divide market researchers like it had before. There is a very safe niche for full service market research professionals amidst the indispensable tools on the market – that niche is to use these tools to more effectively make sense of the world. And smart researchers and marketers get that. These tools help researchers do more, faster and better, and they help marketers do research that was otherwise untenable.
Today’s DIY tools accomplish varying degrees of work. In some cases, they help with data collection, in other cases, with data categorization and organization, and in some cases visualization. In other extreme applications, they do almost “human like” tasks like making sense of unstructured text. The fact still remains, however, that they make practitioners’ lives easier in all cases. A sensible data scientist running factor analysis these days wouldn’t think of proceeding without excel, or a calculator at the very least. These tools make his task far easier. A qual researcher, similarly, should consider the use of sentiment analysis tools, because, if you believe in their efficacy, they can make tasks far easier for the same reasons.
Ok, enough with my diatribe on why we should use DIY tools. We all get it right?
Well, I’m pleased to note that most people do. My experience at the North American Insight Innovation Exchange Conference in Atlanta this year was reassuring. When describing GlimpzIt, I could freely use terms like DIY, self service, or self guided with confidence, knowing that folks understood our offering and even more so, our value prop. Contrast that to just over a year ago at IIEX 2014 Amsterdam, when you could hear a scornful murmur in the crowd when Paul MacDonald from Google talked about how Google Consumer Surveys could help bring cost effective research to small businesses. Moreover, I didn’t sense the same sort of fear around losing business or even more personally, losing your job. That underlying sentiment seemed to permeate the Amsterdam conference center, and certainly still continues to at other conferences like CASRO.
It takes only a slightly deeper study of DIY tools to appreciate their value even more, and realize that they make all of our jobs more productive, not obsolete. During my exploration of the more common DIY tools in the insights space, I learned quite a bit about DIY strategies and their respective value. Let’s take a quick look:
SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics, Google Consumer Surveys – these are the giants and pioneers in the space and we all know what they do. The take away from these services is to make products valuable and applicable to researchers, but also accessible and usable by non-researchers. A marketer or product developer in the past, who might be completely unfamiliar with executing a survey, now has that potential, and that’s a good thing!
Zappistore, Qualtrics, CoolTools – they provide platforms for companies to submit their products for researchers to pull off the shelf and use independently. As an example, you might buy a “standard” NPS test where the question is pre-formulated, the survey is pre-programmed, and everything is executed for you automatically, all online. From these offerings, we’ve learned that DIY tools should strive more for turn-key solutions. We don’t need to stop at just delivering a function. There is merit to layering methods, analysis and presentation into our DIY offerings to make them more valuable and complete.
Other Somewhat DIY Solutions:
GutCheck – based on client needs, they make research methodology recommendations and are able to pull the appropriate “products” off the shelf to meet these needs. The learning from this strategy is that solutions that mix consulting and automation are just as effective, if not more so, than DIY alone.
Google Consumer Surveys, Branded Research, TAP Research, Cint, Federated – through the use of online web apps and APIs, anyone with some basic computer programming know how can recruit sample and achieve completes – no need for professional services anymore to confuse us with terms like LOI and incidence.
Google Analytics, Kissmetrics – perhaps we don’t think of these tools as research, but their value is clearly aligned with the goals of many researchers, i.e. to understand consumer behavior and help with making more informed business decisions.
Our own tool, GlimpzIt, is used in scenarios ranging from ethnography and ideation to issue identification and political message testing. Cool stuff right? Sure, but we have a lot to learn from our predecessor DIY brethren. As a starting point, we adopted a similar vision – to democratize our brand of insight generation; make visual conversations accessible to anyone, regardless of job role, expertise, and budget.
I am happy to see the direction in which the industry has evolved just in a matter of a few short months. Its my firm belief that, as these tools get better and researchers get more comfortable using them, their use will become even more widespread. It’s time we sharpened our resolve to innovate, not dust off our resumés. With less time spent on the mechanics, the door is wide open for researchers to focus more on revealing deeper insights and deriving innovative methods to get to them.