As the New Year starts, what will be ‘hot or not’ in our industry is the question of everyone’s lips. We turn to a consortium of industry opinions to try and deliver an answer to this:

The first question, it appears, is do we need to ask about methods anymore:

Interesting to read the word “methods” – it sounds almost old-fashioned. Tech will drive “methods”, be it in the area of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, biometrics, machine learning….and we will be constantly faced with asking questions: what can we do with these, what kind of usage will they have in MR? On that note – I’m looking forward to the IIEX in Amsterdam.

I honestly wonder if we shouldn’t drop the words “methods” and talk more “techniques” “tools” – might be good for broader stakeholder engagement.

Edward Appleton, Happy Thinking People

New research methods and technologies are always emerging, but these are all simply a means to an end – better business decisions.  As an industry, we often forget that and focus too much on what we do, rather than why.  That’s not a revelation.  ‘Insights’ and ‘action’ have been buzzwords for a long-time now, but these words are often hollow.  There’s an increasing backlash against this from consumers of research, and that will build up a head of steam in 2017.

As a result, a new breed of researcher will begin to emerge – one that is equipped to make a real business impact because they couple research expertise with a skill-set akin to that of a management consultant.  That’s exciting because if, as an industry, we deliver on this then that will elevate the position of research and make it an indispensable tool.

Andrew Dalglish, Circle Research

If we should ask about methods, here’s where we should focus:

2017 should see a flourishing of alternative methodologies; seeking to move away from traditional ideas of representivity and measure things like emotive biases and the forces of persuasion impacting over new battle lines. In an ever changing political landscape, traditional divides are changing. So to gain a better picture we will need to diversify and adapt our methodologies to suit the new decision making processes. 2017 offers a great opportunity for us as an industry, to innovate and expand in this field, and really show our worth.

Alex Wheatley, Lightspeed

Ethnography is on the up. Researchers watching people vacuum their homes saw the need for a cordless vacuum cleaner. Data analytics hadn’t identified this opportunity. There will be a continuing growth in big data analysis but this doesn’t provide an understanding of emotions. Researchers are interested in tools that enable them to track and identify emotions.  There will be more ethnography which will be physical (ie on site) and virtual (ie online).  We will see a greater use of images captured on mobile phones, providing rich ethnographic insights that previously were costly to obtain.

Paul Hague, B2B International

Rather than focus on innovation within new methods, I hope that 2017 brings a renewed focus on rigour and quality within our existing methodologies. Bring back real control groups, questionnaire pretesting, and pilot testing. Bring back a priori hypothesis testing, post-hoc comparisons, appropriate statistical tests, and drop the p-hacking and 300 page crosstab clickbait. Let’s bring back respect and understanding of basic research methods so that the work we produce is valid, reliable, and reproducible.

Annie Petit 

Is technology a methods killer? If so, tomorrow will reveal more on this….

One area in which we are starting to feel a sense of decline is with the more traditional quant tracking. I say tracking and you start to snooze right? We know this decline is attributed to the ever growing amount of data already available at our clients’ fingertips. It feels like we are moving away from monthly testing of the same variables to see very little change in insight. Clients are starting to want more actionable and timely insights. So, whilst we might see traditional quant tracking reach the state of its art in its final iteration, we’ll soon see its complete replacement by fully automated in-moment customer experience trackers and ad hoc research.

Emma Kirk, Business Development Manager, Join the Dots