How Can Research Help Google?

March 15, 2012 at 5:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I have never considered myself a qualitative or quantitative researcher. This may be because I started my career client side but I have always thought of myself as a business person, trying to work in or with companies and government to make better decisions (with their customers/constituents in mind). Often, how we collect the information required to make better decisions has not mattered (primary and secondary), as long as it is collected ethically, accurately, with quality in mind and has more than a sprinkling of analysis and thinking added in.

This has led me (and many of you I am sure) to all sorts of information and data collection methods including ‘desk research’ (a term now only used by those of us that can remember work before the internet). I am excited at the opportunities for our profession operating in the so-called ‘Google age’ because the potential appears endless (or, in other words, I am finding it hard to keep up ), as long as we choose to evolve and be part of it.

The world we are living in includes new potential competitors and contributors to primary research – along with new applications like Pinterest, Gentlemint and Instagram that may well play a role in research, given that they show us photos and imagery people all around the world choose to represent a word or a brand. The problem is we don’t exactly know who thinks what and why they think this and geographic boundaries rarely exist.

Google and the many new competitors may need our help in making sure these new tools are useful not only as methods of collecting data but also provide the analysis and thinking that I mentioned above. New companies and professionals need our advice and input to ensure ethics, quality and privacy are considered, so that long term they can continue to be useful. They don’t know what they don’t know yet, but our profession knows very well how to collect information in a reliable and high quality manner.

I recently completed a business-to-business survey that was sent to me from one of the new competitors in primary research and believe me when I say they could do with some advice on the principles of basic questionnaire design.

One important consequence of the Google world in which we live is the expectation of speed. We are expecting everything faster than ever before but I am not sure that commercial decisions are being made at the same pace.

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