A couple of weeks ago we were basking in the sunshine and heat of Atlanta, attending the Insight Innovation Exchange (IIeX) conference. Each year provides a fantastic opportunity to not only meet new and existing customers, but to also soak up some great presentations by speakers from North America.
This year three themes struck me as particularly prominent:
- Visceral visualization – Virtual environments and more robust media in general
- Interrogating respondent’s implicit motivations and feelings
- Automation of analysis
It makes sense that these different elements would develop together because in my opinion, one supports and facilitates the next.
Starting with what I’m calling visceral visualization, there was technology (including our own) to simplify the process of capturing, uploading and cataloging the details of the world around them. Researchers are immersed in the lives of participants through the photos and videos that they can effortlessly share in-the-moment. Researchers are presented with new depths of context found in the media collections constructed by participants.
I was also taken by how modern technology will potentially enable us to build customized virtual spaces in which participants can be immersed and then observed. An exciting example of this at IIeX is the possibilities offered by SciFutures Interactive Space. Specifically, they offer a VR application that could possibly, for example, transport participants through any number of differing retail spaces in an instant.
The next theme I found compelling was the use of tech to capture and measure respondent’s implicit, unstated attitudes. Sentient’s presentation, “The Politics of Emotion and Reason,” was a fascinating example. Sentient deployed implicit data to predict the outcome of various US primary elections with impressive accuracy.
As participants are increasingly immersed in virtual environments and allowed to contribute in more comprehensive and complicated ways, I am interested to see what modes of analysis will emerge to better interpret the context that surrounds a given response. What implicit cues could be measured, for example, as a virtual shopper interacts with a space that is new to them?
This introduces the final theme that seemed consistently present: the automation of analysis. As the volume of data surrounding responses increases along with the number of ways we might interpret them, a bit of help will surely be appreciated. In the presentation, “Will Watson Replace Researchers?” Ravesh Lala suggested that this help is on the way. While AI sorts out the subtlety of sentiment (and hopefully decodes available context cues), researchers will be freed to focus on the development of informed strategy.