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Whether you're at a shopping center in Europe, at a bus stop in Vancouver or in a rural area in Asia, you'll likely see people using some sort of a mobile device.

Mobile is taking over the world, blurring the online and offline worlds. More importantly, mobile is ready for research - but are you?

Here are six ways incorporating mobile devices can enhance your research:

  1. Get real time data

    Because of the on the go nature of mobile devices, research on mobile allows you to talk to people who are doing the behavior you need to observe. People's responses can be based on their thoughts, feelings and opinions as they happen. Getting momentary reaction instead of recall usually results in better insights: your data is more immediate and you can link opinion more strongly to behavior.

  2. Invite more people in

    Mobile's market penetration is impressive. In fact, more people have cell phones than laptops. Some stats even suggest that more people have access to mobile phones than to bathrooms or toothbrushes. For researchers, mobile's ubiquity is great news: it means you could invite more people into your studies. Reaching more people from all socio-economic groups is also easier than ever.

  3. Gather better content

    Mobile's capabilities allow researchers to create interfaces that are interactive and more fun to do. Also, because of the real time nature of mobile research, it's better at getting information about people's emotions as they happen. The feedback you get tends to be short, as well as highly personal and situational. From previous research, we also found that people who complete studies on their mobile tend to enjoy the experience more. Essentially, this means better quality research because people's experiences are more engaging and in the moment.

  4. Acquire results sooner

    With people's permission, the rich features of smartphones allow you to get information without asking questions. For example, if people opt in to location tracking, a person's physical location can be added as a data point when gathering responses. Having this information right away saves people time, allowing you to get insights sooner.

    Because of the interface of mobile devices, researchers usually ask shorter questions, which then allow people to finish surveys more quickly. Over time, these short responses can build a customer profile and lead to insights just as efficiently as longer studies can.

  5. Make it easier for people to participate

    Mobile devices enable people to participate when they have a few minutes to spare wherever they happen to be. They don't have to log in to a computer or a laptop to participate. The mobility of these devices reduces participation barriers for people.

  6. Get richer data

    The ability of mobile devices to collect and support multimedia allows you to get richer data. For example, you could encourage people to share photos, videos and voice recordings instead of typing their responses. Conversely, researchers can share photos and videos with their insight community to illustrate a point and encourage deeper discussions. With mobile, you can do online research beyond just text and get more context from images, videos, and audio.

With mobile expected to become even more prominent in the new few years, you toned to develop a robust mobile strategy for your research. Including mobile in your research is not just about getting better insights: it's also about meeting people's expectations.

To learn more about the application of mobile devices to research, download the Gen2 Advisors white paper "Blurring of online and offline worlds - The future of mobile in research".

How has mobile devices enhanced your research? And how will mobile devices shape research in the next decade? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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