You Can’t Force Fit Mobile Into the Current Market Research Process

My industry pick this week goes to Leslie Townsend of Kinesis for her frank discussion regarding mobile research. Mobile isn’t something you force fit into the current market research process we use today. Mobile is its own category of research and those that approach it from this overall perspective – not merely as the connection piece of the process – will be the ones successfully interacting with their mobile audience.

Simply put, taking a standard survey, making it shorter, changing a couple of questions and pushing it out to a mobile device is not mobile market research. Leslie highlights an industry issue when saying till now most of the talk around mobile has focused on making it fit into our current process. I heard this many times during The Market Research Technology Event held in early May.  Are we doing mobile market research right? Thoughts from TMRTE 2012 provides the highlights around that mobile discussion.

Bottom line, those taking the time to define each step of the market research process from the perspective of being mobile – from initial planning of the project scope through data analysis – are the ones that will be successful in the mobile world.

Mobile is not about getting a survey on your phone. It is about connecting with a person living and functioning in a mobile environment. Think about it, the person taking the survey is mobile. They’re busy, they’re on the move, they’re multitasking – develop research that fits their mobile lifestyle not just their mobile device.


Change as a Result of Radical Openness, Highlights from TEDGlobal 2012

Change is uncomfortable and often disruptive, major change results in stress. Don’t believe me? Check out the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale measuring the impact of 43 life change units – pretty heavy stuff.

On the flip side change can be positive, resulting in personal growth, innovation and new solutions. It’s this perspective on change, as a stimulus for collaboration and improvement, that I believe was the catalyst for the TEDGlobal 2012 theme of Radical Openness. The ability to embrace new ideas, look at everyday situations differently and collaborate with unexpected allies is all part of radical openness and driving positive change in our world.

The second TEDx OrangeCoast session I attended via live simulcast was titled Long Term and focused on just that – long term changes that are needed in our world. Six people shared their ideas for the future via the TED famous 18-minute talk. The initial session, see my post on Shades of Openness, was all about challenging yourself to throw out everything you know as fact and simply be open to what could be.

The Long Term session took a very structured look at significant changes six people feel are needed in the world. Here’s a recap of the Long Term session ranging from climate change to some awesome guitar playing.

Vicki Arroyo, Environmental Policy Influencer, focused on what she calls the ‘wrenching’ changes needed to combat global climate change. Don’t believe in global warming? Vicki offers some compelling reasons to assess your personal impact on our global climate and how small changes in your community can make a difference. Jonathan Trent, Scientist and Biofuel Guru, offered game changing energy ideas with Project Omega from NASA. The idea is to grow algae for biofuel via a solar powered system in the ocean.

I was most intrigued by Susan Solomon a stem cell advocate from The New York Stem Cell Foundation. She shared the concept of stem cells being the ‘black box’ of disease management. Stem cell research truly puts us on the threshold of personalized medicine.

The highlight of this session was Usman Riaz, a 21-year-old percussion guitar player that was nothing short of amazing. He learned to play watching his guru Preston Reed on YouTube. We were lucky enough to see them play together!

Looking at these sessions from a business perspective it’s easy to see the importance of looking outside your box. It makes you think why not in place of that’s the way we’ve always done things. As the co-founder of a medical technology company I’ve had to push myself outside of my comfort zone and explore new ways to meet customer needs.

At InCrowd we have brought a new tool to the decision support industry  – that tool is real time information. We’ve developed a platform that enables a company to get answers to market research questions from industry experts in hours. It’s different than traditional market research; it leverages mobile technology and a do-it-yourself component to access immediate information from a highly targeted sample.

Is this new market research tool going to change the world on the same magnitude as Project Omega? Probably not. Can it be game changing to businesses using the new technology? We believe it can. Brining an innovative product to market does however highlight the need to remain open to new ideas and solutions. As we work with clients and investors it’s interesting to see their reaction to a disruptive technology. Some are open to a different way to access quality data faster but some are truly resistant to change. It makes you wonder, if a person puts up a barrier to accessing data faster how are they going to react when faced with a radical change?

My lesson learned from TEDGlobal – stay open to what’s possible. Don’t let new and different be unsettling; let it be exciting and empowering.

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk.

Shades of openness from TEDGlobal 2012

How do you define radical openness? Do you believe it exists, that it’s obtainable? Do we really need to be radically open? As the forces of technology, global travel and social media converge to make the world an increasingly interconnected place, the way we communicate, interact and share will change. Some of these changes will be for the better others perhaps not; but make no mistake our world is changing.

How do we remain open to this flood of change? How do we navigate the new rules these changes will bring? These questions were the catalyst for TEDGlobal 2012: Radical Openness, held in Edinburgh, Scotland June 25th through the 29th. I was lucky enough to attend a live simulcast of two sessions – Shades of Openness and Long Term – via TEDx OrangeCoast. During each of these sessions six people shared their ideas on radical openness in our changing world.

TED events are known for bringing together the ‘thinkers and doers’ of the world, those interested in sharing their ideas to drive change. TED mirrors the 140-character twitter structure, limiting each talk to 18 minutes or less. This approach keeps the discussions focused and the ideas flowing.

As I arrived at the event, I wondered how TED would fill four days with dialogue on openness? Doesn’t everyone want to be open or transparent (to use the current buzzword)? As I listened to the speakers I came to the realization that transparency holds different meanings to different people, four days is not nearly long enough and being radically open to new ideas can be game changing for the world.

Here’s a recap of what has kept me thinking and conversing long after leaving the event…

Part I: Shades of Openness

Ivan Krastev, a public intellectual from Bulgaria, contests the idea of transparency in our democratic institutions. His idea that ‘what went right is also what went wrong’ and that we ‘need to look at the other side of the things we like’ is truly an eye opener.

He challenges that transparency is actually the management of mistrust and a means of control not openness. He sited a situation in his own government where the transcripts from political sessions would be made public within 24 hours. When asked why they would agree to this level of transparency, a government official stated this was the best way to keep the mouths of his cabinet shut as none of them wanted to be explaining themselves publically. Hence transparency becomes a form of control.

Digital anthropologist, Gabriella Coleman, told us ‘everything you know about Anonymous is wrong’. Anonymous being the enigmatic groups of hacktivists or digital protectors, depending on your view, leading protest activity via the Internet. They truly function within shades of openness as they work to protect the freedoms of the Internet while remaining anonymous. Gabriella’s talk provided a better understanding on the value of online anonymity and the nebulous definition of openness.

Journalist Leslie Chang provides a voice for the subculture of female Chinese workers that make our iPads and Coach handbags. Mainstream journalism leads us to believe we are taking advantage of these workers, their living and employment conditions are beyond appalling and that they are forced to remain in these jobs. After spending two years living with and interviewing these workers Leslie shares a different story. Yes life in a Chinese factory is hard but not as hard as remaining on the family farm in rural China.

Yes the way they live and work is different than ours, but it is better than how they live and work on the family farm in rural China. These women have chosen to move to the city and find factory jobs. Their choice to work in a factory provides them with social mobility; offering them the opportunity to achieve a life they define as valuable. Leslie teaches us to not look at a situation solely from our own perspective but to be open to a different view of the world.

Coming from a business perspective, it’s the openness to different views that I find empowering. We are all trying to make sense of the changes in our world; openness to what’s new, different or outside of our comfort zone allows us to question our most fundamental beliefs and imagine what is possible.

Part 2: My lesson learned from TEDGlobal – stay open to what’s possible. Don’t let new and different be unsettling; let it be exciting and empowering.

Have you been to a TED event?

I’d love to hear your thoughts from the experience.

This post originally appeared on CROWDTalk