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Recently, I was leading a workshop on mobile research in Amsterdam for ESOMAR. In attendance were a great cast of characters from China, Chile, Russia, Dubai, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and Singapore, to name a few.

We had been through the difference between computer interfaces and mobile interfaces and the possible implications for data quality and comparability. They could see the folly of taking that for granted. And they had just been respondents to a very long mobile survey that purposefully pushed the limits, in order to find out what a respondent's breaking point was on mobile. They had experienced how trying it can be to do an inappropriate survey on a mobile.

Now they were primed. I placed a bunch of commonplace on-line surveys in front of them and asked how they would or would not have to change them for mobile. It was like putting a match to gas.

The light went on, with a boom!

Suddenly, they realized that today's run-of-the-mill long surveys, with repetitive item banks and long winded questions, would not cut it on a mobile. Phrases need to be more concise. Labels need to be shortened. Rank order tasks needed to be reasonable. Maybe larger pretests could help weed out unnecessary items? There was lots to think about.

They could see that things would have to change. Mobile research would force them to do things differently, just like it did when face to face became telephone and when telephone became on-line. Research is constantly changing and it rewards the prepared.

Did you know that 800,000,000 million smartphones will be shipped in 2014? There is a mobile tsunami coming, better get ready!

Re-imagining research: 10 golden tips for the modern researcher

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