Over the past several years a few key trends have impacted the need for research and changed the way we conduct it. Research has evolved to meet the demands of the rapid pace of innovation required from companies. In today's climate even more discipline is required to be successful. Research ultimately is the best tool available to drive discipline in organizations. Research, we believe, is for companies that want to be desciplined and want to keep teams (their greatest asset) focused and inspired to drive innovation in the organization.
"Ultimately innovation is about people... and people need fuel. Fuel in technology is clarity of purpose and knowing who you are creating for" - christy
Here are 8 reasons we do research differently:
1. Research is more critical today than it was five years ago because the lifespan of software is shortening. Yet too often, companies forego research all together, in favor of a more iterative approach to software development such as, build and measure (or an agile approach). This focus on the rapid ability to change if something fails can not keep pace. Companies end up with a hodgepodge of features, brand confusion, and an iPad app that is out of date two months after it is rolled out.
2. Analytics are really good now! Analytics will trump research in many cases and should be used concurrently to determine research needs, develop, and support concepts.
3. The need for purposeful design over application proliferation: good design requires restraint, simplicity, and purpose. This requires strategic frameworks to understand customer "flow."
Clarity of how, where, and when the user will engage with a service.
4. No assumptions about the users current "attention" or their willingness to give you more. In the past we just evaluated user "needs" now we need to go further to understand the dynamics behind product adoption. Understanding needs, market segments, and triggers is no longer enough to maintain competitive position, now we need to know where (which device) and how (which channel)
5. The need for research outputs with stronger conceptual and strategic imperatives that can extend across the organization. These imperatives should accommodate shifting business priorities while providing structure for teams to understand flow across devices and applications (i.e. research is not thrown out when budgets are reallocated).
6. Alignment and focus of teams; clarity of goals and purpose and the development of commonly held beliefs about customers is essential to building innovation in teams. Business planning is complex and needs to be rooted in users real behaviors, not generally held beliefs in the organization.
7. Research for software and digital services is about gaining competitive knowledge, not being true to a single research methodology. No dogma.. change and tweak as you go. Keep it light-weight, nimble, and cost effective..
8. Today customers have ample choice of services across devices in both the lean forward and lean back experiences, otherwise known as the 1 foot (mobile), 3 foot (laptop), and 10 foot (TV) experiences. For many companies they have a role to play in each; for others they simple need to know where to concentrate their efforts and understand how they fit into the broader ecosystem around them.