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QUAL360 Findings: Evolve and Transform.

In a world where online polls and surveys are ubiquitous – from news sources, travel companies, clothing brands and far more – “data” can seem like a fast (and sometimes even free) solution. Yet the quantitative research field isn’t the only one that’s evolving. Those of us in qualitative research are continually looking for new ways to uncover and share the important nuggets that matter to clients. That search led us to Qual360 in Washington, D.C., where we joined other leaders in the field to share ideas about the latest trends and innovations in the world of qualitative research. Here are some of our biggest takeaways:

The qual vs. quant battle has finally come to an end

For many years, qualitative researchers have expressed concern about their role in a world where big data has been on the rise. This year, however, the mood was one of relief and motivation. More and more businesses appear to understand the complementary value of both quantitative and qualitative research. While quantitative research can provide scale, qualitative provides the deep insights and rich context vital to truly understanding those findings and confidently making strategic business decisions.

Companies are moving faster than ever, and so are their research needs

As companies have increased pressure to accomplish goals on a tighter timeline, qualitative researchers are feeling pressure to increase the momentum of the research process. In response, they’re finding new ways to deliver insights quickly without losing analytical quality. Daily field updates and topline reports that summarize major findings are just two ways we deliver insights more efficiently. Of course, we still provide a final report that includes the rich detail and contextual information necessary for true understanding.

 Man vs. machine: The role of the researcher is evolving as tech takes over

Observing how technology is taking over more and more labor from humans, qualitative researchers wonder how their roles might evolve over time – or if they will even have a role at all in the future. At Qual360, many felt that the human researcher will always be needed in some capacity. When asked to describe qualitative research, researchers said it is “messy,” is “fuzzy,” “requires incredible amounts of empathy,” “is more art than science” and “is all about storytelling.” Various speakers argued that the qualitative researcher’s role in this messy realm is that of a “cultural navigator and contextual interpreter,” or the person who seeks to answer the question “why?” They argued that while machines may be able to help with part of the research process, the work of empathy would always require human involvement.

Let’s keep the conversation going

Connect with Fusion Hill to learn more about our approach to qualitative research and how we’re continually evolving it – from finding new activities for co-creation sessions to designing impactful, interactive new deliverables.

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