Annie Pettit

May I begin with a quote from the Ontario Kindergarten curriculum guide: “Full-Day Early Learning–Kindergarten program should provide opportunities for learning, self-expression, self-regulation, and self-discovery in … cooperative activities with peers.” Now that we’re adults, we use more grown-up words to describe the same concepts, words like education, innovation, and best practices, and these words were plentiful throughout the MRMW conference.

Suppliers and buyers must engage in cooperative activities with each other. Historically, researchers have been providers of data and buyers have been receivers of data and that dynamic worked great because suppliers had something, data, which was in short supply. But now, data is a commodity and every supplier has far more of it than anyone knows what to do with. What it means is that buyers can refuse to accept data and instead insist on receiving advice, interpretation, stories, and smarts. Suppliers not wanting to cooperate with buyers in this sandbox will find themselves struggling to stay in business.

Suppliers must engage in cooperative activities with each other, and this was no more apparent than during the social media research panel. Both the supplier and buyer sides of the panel were split on whether standards were reasonable and possible to put into place so early in the game, especially when there were worries about standards stifling the self-discovery (innovation) process. There were even disagreements about whether suppliers could even work together to even start a process of talking about standards. Self-regulation (standards) imposed by an industry body did not put smiles on many faces. Sharing each other’s best practices (learning) was an idea that was nearly spit upon table. Cooperative play? Sorry, not this time.

Methods must engage in cooperative activities. It was abundantly clear that mobile research is not an entity on its own. Suppliers and buyers know there are weakness to the method (as with every method), and these weaknesses are best addressed through multi-mode methods. Mobile plus focus groups, mobile plus online surveys, mobile plus ethnography. We saw that this is the ideal way to find and stitch together all the pieces of the research puzzle. There is no such thing as one method that can solve every problem and mobile researchers know it. When a project stays within one company, and that company is capable of offering various modalities, it’s quite easy for diverse methods to play cooperatively. But when methods are forced to come from different sources, from different companies, we once again have trouble putting all the pieces together.

The market research sandbox is very big. Technology companies, management consulting companies, and even a few market researchers are playing in it. Let’s do our best to cooperate in every area to make sure mom and dad (government legislators) aren’t forced to intervene and make us cooperate in ways we don’t want to.

Annie Pettit, PhD is the Vice President of Research Standards at Research Now and the Chief Research Officer of Conversition Strategies. She recently became the Editor-in-Chief for VUE magazine.

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