I’m at the Market Research in the Mobile World Conference in Cincinnati where the constant stream of cool MR mobile applications is off the charts. You can’t help but be impressed with the creativity being brought to the task of using mobile to give us a whole new perspective on consumer behavior. And the people showing their wares here in Cincinnati all seem to be having a great time doing it. The excitement is palpable.
But the most interesting session of the day to my ear was the client panel to which our host and MR impresario Lenny Murphy posed the question: “What’s the gap between what clients need and what suppliers are offering?” The answers all seem to boil down to our failure to help them understand how all of this cool new stuff and the data it produces can be put to work in their companies. There were lots of specifics—boring reports that need to be rewritten, failing to help internal stakeholders integrate the data into their existing databases, not being clear about how new methodologies do what they purport to do, not understanding their business and industry, etc. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard this from clients. And I’ve seen zero evidence so far that mobile helps.
Clients have been complaining for years that researchers mostly just deliver facts, or what they claim to be facts, and making real business sense of those facts is not a deliverable. For all the talk about the importance of storytelling, it’s just another way to present the facts. Ditto for most of the cool video and animated deliverables being generated out of mobile. Clients want us to connect the dots from those facts to their business and they keep telling us over and over that we’re not getting it done. I guess we’re just having too much fun with data collection.