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Back and buzzing after QRCA Lisbon – with sore feet but lots of new ideas

Paul Kingsley-Smith 10/13/23 9:19 AM

Reflecting on a great qual research gathering 

The QRCA conferences are always super – and this year’s event in Lisbon was definitely no exception. As platinum sponsor and provider of the online hub this year, Qualzy was right in the heart of things.

As with any event, the atmosphere is all about the attendees.  It was great to see so many of our clients and professional contacts from the qualitative research world there – including Nichola Quail who travelled from Australia with her Dilmah Tea Bags for our Battle of the Teas! It was great to finally meet Jay Zaltsman in person - we’ve collaborated on a number of online events, and he moderated our AI panel, and Susan Fader, who has been a long-standing user and friend of the Qualzy platform. We caught up between sessions, on the Qualzy stand, in the coffee queue, and over meals – anywhere and everywhere, in fact!

Conversations were fast, frequent, and full of insights and ideas for everyone to take away, featuring a wide-ranging mix of themes...


QRCA Worldwide ConferenceAll Mentions


Debating the future of qualitative research

It was hardly a surprise that this year’s discussions significantly focused on the future. 

The presentation agenda explored the impacts and implications of everything from COVID and hybrid working to skills shortages, globalisation, and the profession’s history – and, of course, of technology.

It will be no shock to anyone who knows us that we wanted to be right at the heart of that last one. 

The lightning-fast advent of generative AI has unquestionably changed the conversation as everybody associated with qualitative research considers how a future with AI might unfold.

I was privileged to be part of the final panel reflecting on an afternoon of pragmatic AI exploration, with speeches from Daniel Berkal and Sidi Lemine provoking much thought and many, many questions.

We certainly noted that much uncertainty remains – not just because this is incredibly new stuff, but also because it really isn’t quite clear to all yet how AI and human research professionals will interact, overlap, and work.  There are common fears of replacement, of a decreased personal touch, of instant and automated analyses, and risks as yet unrecognised. Often these are based on myths and assumptions – such as that it’s only a matter of time before AI can do all that humans can do.

There’s also huge curiosity – and this is where opportunity lies. If researchers, agencies, and research bodies start to use and explore AI in ways that make sense, familiarity will grow, and fears fade.

The overwhelming take-away was that an AI future is coming, like it or not. We do like – otherwise we wouldn’t be embracing it so actively.  And we see it as part of our own mission now to help others explore and find ways to understand how AI can benefit them in their research activities.

To that end, we’ve lots of ideas bubbling away as to how we can help.

We already offer an AI Idea Playground – a sandbox of sorts, to help you explore how AI might expand and execute on a research project brief, safely and securely so you aren’t risking any sensitive client data. As well as our AI features, including AI-assisted moderator probes and AI summaries. Learn more on our AI page.

Mind you, I’m not kidding about the feet. 

They were definitely feeling the pinch after that three-day stint – so I thought I would compound that by running the Lisbon marathon which happened to be at the weekend just as the conference closed.   I ran in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity, an amazing cause that’s close to my heart. Despite, missing the start by over 6 minutes, I ended up finishing in a very respectable 3hrs 18 minutes - not a personal best, but in the scorching heat that was never on the table…

Now, it’s back home and back to business.

However, we’ll be sponsoring the QRCA annual conference in Denver, Colorado this coming January too – are you booked in? If so, we’ll see you there. If not – what are you waiting for?

We’re always delighted to demo – so if that’s of interest, book in here. Otherwise – watch this space. Because we’ve more ideas to come!