Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Q&A With Vivek Bhaskaran on Mobile Adoption and the "Internet of Things" applied to Market Research

Just one week ago was "WWW Wednesday," marking the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web. The original proposal of the World Wide Web 25 years ago on March 12, 1989 by Berners-Lee titled "Information Management" has now evolved and taken over many aspects in our daily lives. 

Without the World Wide Web, SaaS like us and millions of others would not be here today. This week I took a chance to ask Survey Analytics President Vivek Bhaskaran questions about the current state of mobile adoption in market research and new insights the "Internet of Things" and connected world have opened up to us and the market research industry over the recent years. 

Q1: According to Google Consumer Surveys, Only 27% of researchers used mobile in 2013 - what do you think is the hesitation there?

Vivek: Research is driven by demand and revenue. It took about 5 years for people to move from telephone based research to online. There was a distinct cost advantage there. For the mobile shift, there is not significant cost advantage - but there is a bias / quality issue. This is very difficult to quantify and prepare for - the definition of "good" and "bad" data - is subjective. Non-Response and Reach oriented bias is very difficult to prepare for, quantify and adjust for. This in opinion is the fundamental reason for researchers not thinking of mobile as a significant medium for insights. 

Q2: Going mobile isn't just making sure your surveys display mobile - it's a whole different approach. People take the same research practices from one medium to the next - why do you think this is?

Vivek: Well - because that's the easy route. Thats what we know and seems like thats the simplest thing to do. The real innovation will be around models based on high frequency and low latency feedback - in the moment. That's where I think the true meaning and advantage of mobile shines through. Asking for insights about a plane ride - as users are exiting the plane is an example of high frequency / and in the moment capturing insights. Another example would be something like "See-Click-Fix" for the enterprise - See something, click a photo of something bad - and we'll fix it. Its a social contract that brands and enterprises can guarantee their customers. This starts becoming less research and more of an operational excellence - but thats OK!


Q3: The world wide web over the past 25 years has evolved into the "internet of things." Information is no longer rare. In market research, how do we take what we already know and apply it to what we ask next? Micro surveys, micro targeting, data segmentation - how can someone successfully strategize and tackle this implementation?

Vivek: The IoT (Internet of Things) concept is really applicable to real-time behavioral data collection. My take on the IoT is that it enables every device to be a "cookie" - its the "Offline Cookie" - that travels with you as you go from place to place. Yes - its Orwellian - and has massive privacy implications. But concepts like IoT and iBeacon enable scenarios that have never been possible in the past. We as a society have to determine what is acceptable and what is not - the same way we did with online "Cookies" - we collectively determined that its OK for websites to track where we go and in exchange we got personalized content and relevant advertising. The same will happen for IoT and research.


Q4: What new opportunities have technology and the connected world brought forward for you in particular, for Survey Analytics, and for market research? What do you think will happen next? 


Vivek: The thing that I am personally fascinated with is what has been termed - "The Biometric Selfie" - where wearable computing items like FitBit track your sleep patterns and give options on what you are doing. This high frequency data along with health data - makes it an amazing diagnostic and correlational tool - to determine cause and effect and see the patterns - at scale. One of my friends is developing a product around a toilet seat - that monitors your temperature and can run a bunch of tests - on a daily basis. Another smart idea I heard recently was using iBeacon and accelerometer data to help the elderly to make sure they are safe - if we don't detect movement or the pattern is mis-matched - then automatically trigger an alarm. 
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