Making Sense of All the Data

I just got back from the Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research in Vienna.  One of the themes that emerged for me was the fact that qualitative researchers are in greater demand today because we can help our clients make sense of the very large amount of data they’re receiving from sources such as website analytics, purchase data, social media, etc.  We are the ones still talking to human beings and putting that data in context for our clients.

Many of the presentations talked about not just conducting research, but at looking for ways to ensure that we truly convey the research findings to our clients.  Human beings (including executives!) all have a tendency to perceive input as agreeing with their preconceived notions.  And executives tend to think their customers’ world is similar to their own.  As Ben Skelton put it: “we need to use qualitative research to get executives to understand their customers’ world is different from theirs.”

Some ways to do that:

  • Utilize methods where clients interact directly with their customers, such as co-creation workshops, or serial interviews (“speed-dating” style)
  • Look for more immersive ways to report research results, such as video rather than PowerPoint
  • Steve August and Shannon Danzy try to determine how their clients prefer to learn, and report results accordingly: they might provide lists for engineers and videos for designers. They’ve even hired a comic artist and turned findings into a comic book (I can’t wait for an opportunity to try that at Bureau West!)

Overall, the conference reinforced my desire to make sure we approach each new research project with fresh eyes and look for the best way to answer the research questions most effectively.  Let’s do that together!  Call me at 818-752-7210 or email info at


Source: QRCA Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research, April 13-15, 2016