A little bit of cognitive dissonance is good for everyone. For me, it happened when I refused to step off a window washing platform hanging fifty stories up a skyscraper. Did it matter that I knew I was safely at ground level? Nope. Did it matter that I had quietly giggled at several people before me who also refused to take the leap? Nope. When I tried out LRW’s virtual reality booth, I was shocked at how willing my brain was to accept an obviously animated image as reality. That was when I truly figured out how real it must be to go on a virtual shopping trip, wandering through aisles, comparing products on shelves, and purchasing items at a store while wearing VR goggles. I can only imagine the fun researchers have creating 100 slightly different stores in order to figure out which one best meets consumer needs. Being about to move from grand scale mock stores to virtual stores is a great demonstrations of how irrelevant video games have become very relevant.
Rachel Lawes was one speaker who also managed to get inside my personal shock zone by pointing directly at someone in the audience and demanding, nearly shouting, at them to “Start innovating!” Well, anyone who is uncomfortable speaking up in the boardroom, or who simply doesn’t know how to be innovative, would have a tough time with that demand. For many of us, creativity was trained away in our path to adulthood, but Rachel explained how she is able get the creative juices flowing again. A notebook. Well, to be more precise, 50 sheets of paper stapled together. Research images related to your problem. Research language related to your problem. Write about the problem, draw it, and see what comes out of your brain. And while the first few bursts of creativity might look like high school chicken scratch, you will become more comfortable with being creative and innovative. This type of creativity is how video games turned into virtual stores. I have to think that your business, your products, your reports, could use just a bit more creativity, don’t you think?
And did you know that 96% of the world’s psychology research was conducted in just a few countries, mostly North American style? Elina Halonen shared a few facts about how culturally biased our research methodologies are. For instance, in a North American culture where time runs out, and time is up, and time is money, it’s natural for us to create and respond to research questions with time limits. But for other cultures where time is viewed as something that continues on into tomorrow and never ends, time limited questions make less sense and hold less incentive for a hurried completion. As researchers, we need to be much more creative when we plan out methodologies, particularly as each country becomes more cross-cultural. We really need to know what our biases are.
In another case of knowing your bias, Carl Wong spoke of the difficulties many researchers have collecting answers to open ended questions. He’s learned that certain people are very keen to share their thoughts in video, particularly now that so many people are perfectly comfortable using their phones for everything imaginable. Of course, anyone who is worried about their privacy or who has a negative perception of their physical image might not want to participate. Yet another bias to be aware of, a bias that is also culturally created.
As an industry, we’ve feared the influence of outsiders. We worry about their disruptive innovation and how they will take ‘our’ jobs. But you know what? Disruptive innovation has helped us to discover biases. Virtual reality and video have helped us evolve and improve our measurement opportunities.
In the last track of the conference, each speaker shared their thoughts on the future of our industry and the best way to get there. In its various forms, it all came down to innovation. We must embrace automation, and new methods such as neuroscience and biometrics. We must never forget that two people in a garage are a threat to your giant company if you become complacent and refuse to innovate. We must not focus our attention on what technology takes away from us, but rather the time that it gives back to us to think strategically. And lastly, as Ray Poynter challenged each one of us, we must continually learn new things, from rugby to R to ukulele, regardless of how many years of experience we’ve collected. Keep learning and keep growing.