These days companies have to do more with less. They have to be able to adapt quickly to changes, create continuous momentum and jump on opportunities as they arise. Companies are becoming learning organizations that put humans at the center of their marketing thinking.
The objective is to deeply understand the cultural and business landscape in which they operate, and to continuously monitor their progress in changing this landscape to their benefit.
Traditional research techniques are becoming less productive. New tools are needed that generate richer insights, faster, and more cost effectively.
One of the consequences will be a shift towards mass observational research. Consumer behavior and conversations in the digital space can be observed limitlessly. With the right analysis this has the potential to offer powerful insights, fast and cheap. Google has a variety of monitoring tools that can be used for free. And companies like Collective Intellect uncover and analyze what people are saying with an enormous degree of specificity and context.
This is only half of the story. Micro observation in real life is needed to bring the consumer context further to life and create a holistic point of view on their behavior and that of others in their environment, to gain deep understanding of underlying needs and motivations, and to uncover hidden truths and unspoken conventions.
The result is that the traditional paradigm of qualitative versus quantitative research will soon be outdated and replaced by a new paradigm of observation versus interrogation.
It also means that the traditional boundaries between product and marketing, and marketing and research are disappearing.