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5 predictions for the future of qualitative research

Paul Kingsley-Smith 1/9/24 12:41 PM
Future of qualitative research - crystal ball

Come with us as we gaze into our crystal ball to see what 2024 holds for qual

As a shiny new year beckons, it’s time to look forward at what the next twelve months may bring. Even though we had a truly brilliant year last year here at Qualzy, we know the really good stuff lies ahead.

There’s no shortage of predictions from analysts, consultants, and business pundits. This year many see AI as an inflection point in business, offering huge opportunity, yet everything is tempered by the rather gloomy realities of the global socioeconomic and security scenario.

We don’t presume to predict what may happen for all businesses, but we do have five things we think the qual research sector should look out for in the months ahead. Here they are:

  1. Expect to see AI gain traction. Despite some reservations and reluctance among some researchers, the reality is that adoption of AI will accelerate next year within every organisation. Not only will AI features emerge in more of the tools you use. Those already integrated will continue to mature and be tested in earnest with real projects. That means best practices around AI in use in research organisations and teams will also start to emerge. This may make everyone feel a little more certain about their future. The future may be AI enabled, but in qualitative research engagement the human aspect remains vital, so this year will be about finding balance.
  2. Traditional and digital qual will find a new balance too. Platforms like Qualzy wouldn’t be growing at the rate we are if digital online research were not increasingly and widely in use. However, we anticipate a new balance will soon emerge. The big shift to digital that happened due to the pandemic isn’t the only factor. Changing demographics and society’s general drift to a digital normality are now key – but face to face research is far from dead. It took a little time for some traditional techniques to become normal again. Now, researchers are blending traditional face to face and remote digital qualitative research with confidence. Expect to see many more projects which leverage both the old and new in perfect synch.
  3. Gen Z challenges will continue to mount. As if engaging Millennials wasn’t tricky enough, the oldest of Gen Z will be hitting the ripe old age of 27 this year (depending on which start date you accept). Not just digital-first but social-first, gaining their attention and feedback means offering a rich array of choices, challenges, and routes to feed back – then throwing out many of the assumptions you may make about which tools they will love or hate. Every decisionmaker needs to take the views of this vocal and opinionated but highly varied generation into account – not just those in the mainstream working world, but the pandemic-influenced generation that follows. So, tools like Qualzy that constantly offer new and engaging ways to interact will be important – we are learning a huge amount about that in our student research work with The University of Warwick as they unleash student voices and insights to inform their future.
  4. Researchers of the future, step forward. We’ve spoke before about how research businesses must rewire to face an AI enabled digital future, but one of the most important aspect of this is not about the business itself, but the researchers themselves. As employers face another year of recruiting, they must expect to see candidates who are Gen Z as well as Millennial. They are thoroughly digital by default and expect the very latest technology to be in use and at their disposal from day one. They will assume AI is part of the landscape, geographic boundaries are irrelevant, information is ‘always on’ and engagement with participants will be digitally enabled and social, just because that’s how things are done – right?
  5. In-house research teams become even more self-sufficient. The research tech now accessible to companies as well as researchers mean that they can do many things directly that they might have looked to external agencies for in the past, especially as corporate data science continues to mature, and all organisations become increasingly data driven. Qualzy is a great example – there’s no reason at all why an in-house team could not set up ongoing customer or stakeholder engagement through long-term communities. Yet the deep expertise and experience of expert external advisors and agencies remains extremely relevant – it simply means that brand teams may turn to them for different things. It may be time to put the thinking cap on and conceive new products and services that make that value clear and compelling.

Just five directions, but we think they are all very significant. We are already internalising these very trends as we continue to shape the Qualzy platform for the future.

2024 is going to be an exciting time for us, with new enhancements and features in the works.

Visitors to the QRCA Annual Conference in Denver this January may even get a small sneak peek at what’s in store – but if you’re not going, don’t despair as we will unveil all very soon.

If you want to see if Qualzy could be part of your future, don’t hesitate to click and book a chat or a demo...