Tim Macer interviews Mario Callegaro, a senior research scientist at Google, about why companies use DIY research, the key issues to be considered and the most important skills and capabilities that a DIY researcher should possess.
Let’s start with your definition of what DIY research is.
Most people think of DIY in terms of quantitative, but it can just as easily include qualitative research, like one-to-one interviews, and also usability studies among a small number of people.
Another way to think about DIY research is typically web survey research for quantitative, and some qualitative research both done without having to hire a research agency, using software tools you purchase on a subscription basis.
What are the changes that have made DIY possible, and more attractive to companies?
Just a few years ago, there was no option but to hire a research company. You could possibly have done a mail study, but anything at scale would almost certainly involved a third party to provide the expertise and the technical capabilities.
The first quant DIY software tools only gave you the web survey questionnaire part. They would distribute surveys to your sample but you needed to upload a list of contacts. Now, the tools keep getting more powerful and the companies providing them give you more, such as question banks to call upon and respondents, through online panels.
On the qualitative side, more and more companies are giving you a pool of – not necessarily respondents – but users willing to do tasks for you. Instead of needing to bring people to a lab, this can now be done remotely and at scale without the need to hire a company to do it. The webcam is the symbol of DIY qual – it can be used for online focus groups, in-depth interviews, eye-tracking, and even emotional coding.
When do companies use DIY, and why?
DIY is lowering the entry barrier and democratising research. In theory, anyone with some basic knowledge of the subject can now do research. So, small companies use DIY because often they cannot afford to hire a third party. But another main reason is because it can be done faster.
A third reason, especially for bigger companies, is not wanting to share your internal data with a third party due to confidentiality,
Then there is social media listening, where the tools allow you to create monitors (list of keywords) on your own with some training from the company managing the tool.
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