Surveys, Video and the Changing Face of Agile Research

Emily James

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Paul Hudson

    Agile research is a common talking point in the insights industry. We are constantly on the lookout for new tools, new techniques, new methodologies, new anything to help us design and implement agile research experiences easier, quicker, and cheaper than ever before. But we still haven’t reached the point where we can conclusively say that we are able to nail agile research experiences whenever we require it.

    What is the obstacle that we can’t quite get over? The fact that we all have slightly differing thoughts on what agile research actually is, but at the same time, all of our differing views are correct.

    What if the trick to overcome this challenge isn’t to create a new tool or methodology, but to look at what we’ve got now and use that in a new way to solve our pressing agile needs? Let’s look at how surveys and video specifically can open the gateway to agile research experiences that generation valuable insights every time.

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    How can surveys and video open the gateway to truly agile research experiences that generate valuable insights every time?

    The Path to Agile

    Towards the end of 2020, my colleague Heather Wendlandt conducted a little ad hoc research to find out what the true interpretation of agile seemed to be among insight professionals. What Heather found was a wide range of interpretations, with the majority (46%) believing agile meant ‘iterative’, just under a third of respondents believing it to mean ‘fast’, and the minority thinking it means ‘cheap’.

    For our agile research innovation to work, we need to take all of these interpretations into account, but especially ‘iterative’ and ‘fast’. There is a lot of focus on ‘fast’ agile research at the moment, with the current climate pushing for reactive insights in particular, so focussing on ‘fast’ first, and ‘iterative’ second would start us on the path to a widely applicable methodology.

    Surveys and video are two widely applicable aspects to any research experience, but for agile, they’re imperative. Surveys have been the lifeblood of quantitative research for years, and have been one of the most adaptable tools in an insight professionals’ arsenal because of that. The tool has an inherent agility to provide insights in any situation, an ability to appear in multiple forms both tangible and intangible, and links heavily to other forms of research when needed. With the fluid format, the universal applicability, and the reliability of data generation, surveys are already one of the most relied upon tools within the insights industry.

    But if surveys provide a level of agility, what would happen if we were to combine it with an equally accessible and applicable tool: video? It is not only researchers who are discovering a love of video-based survey research, but also respondents. The accessibility, the ease of communication, and the wealth of unexpected insights provided by context and incommunicable, automatic actions all aid in our quest for rich and directly actionable insights.

    Combining surveys with video is to combine data with emotion, the perfect blend of quantitative with qualitative. This surely, is the path to truly impactful agile research.

    Effective and Efficient

    The defining elements of iterative and fast agile research are efficiency and effectiveness. This blend of quantitative and qualitative data generation provides exactly that, with factual data gathering initiated through surveys, and emotional intelligence capturing through the video elements. There is a brilliant degree of flexibility involved in how we combine surveys and video, and it all depends on what sort of video you would like to use.

    There are a few use cases of video in market research to consider here, for example: real-time, in-situ data generation which can be filmed on-the-go; voice of the customer videos at home or on location; longitudinal diary-style or product testing videos.

    Whichever you pick all depends on what insights you need, the time frame of your research project, and the tools you have at your disposal. If you need quick insights to make an impending decision, then embedding the video capturing answer capabilities within you’re a single survey will allow you to use both tools to the best of their abilities at the same time - providing a single engaging research task for respondents to complete in-situ through their smartphones or computers.

    If you have a longer-term iterative study, then you can still use the video answers within a survey, but you can also implement video elements within as tasks themselves, such as taking part in online focus groups (to capture live insights in in-depth interviews and facilitate a closer to face-to-face discussions that you can also respond to in real time for any clarification or redirection you find you need.

    Insight professionals are able to conduct diary studies of indeterminate time, collating intensive video data at regular intervals, as well as using surveys to inform respondents and gather their knowledge of the topic they are to be discussing that day or week, or even target specific respondents to ask them more questions about the insights they have just provided.

    With videos able to be recorded from just about anywhere though the prolific use of smartphones, the integration of surveys and videos are more than feasible. Truly, there are a limitless range of applications for this survey-video research method for all insight professionals that hit both the ‘iterative’ and ‘fast’ definitions of agile research.

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    With videos able to be recorded from just about anywhere, the integration of surveys and video data collection methods is more feasible than ever - and the applications are limitless.

    Agile Understanding

    There have been a few studies and explorations conducted throughout recent years, one of our own Tribes report included, that all reveal a significant gap between when respondents say and what they do. Surveys, while a great adaptable tool, can only really capture insights based on what the respondents say they do rather than what they actually are likely to do. So, there is a crucial need a bit of qualitative influence in these research projects to close this gap even a little bit so we are able to get to the truest response and insights possible – only through combining surveys and video are we in with a chance of understanding consumer behaviour.

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