Why would 20|20, famous for pioneering digital tools like QualBoard, buy a smartphone qual platform? To answer the question, you need to have a sense of how digital qualitative research is shaping up as we enter a new decade. The 25-year growth in online qualitative has been remarkable. There’s been a consistent flurry of online qualitative platform innovation aiming to turn our newfound digital access to consumers into powerful insight.
Online solutions like QualBoard, offering digital discussions, diaries and more, were first out of the gate. Suddenly a moderator could assemble a group of consumers online and get them sharing rich feedback through their keyboards. Participants were often anonymous, which fueled candid, comfortable interaction and led to a level of insight that often wasn’t always available in face-to-face qualitative. This broad acceptance and ability to deliver fresh insight made boards the standard for online qualitative for nearly a decade.
Then along came the smartphone. Suddenly consumers had the ability to surf the web, email, text and much more, wherever they were and whenever they wanted. And it opened up a powerful opportunity for market researchers to connect with consumers in-the-moment just about anywhere they might be.
The emergence of the mobile phones led to the development of another type of digital qualitative tool – tools designed specifically to take advantage of the smartphone.
As a pioneer for this type of mobile ethnography tool, Over the Shoulder spent a decade building and honing a native smartphone qualitative research platform that makes it easy and engaging for consumers to interact in-the-moment. Participants can carry the tool in their pockets and purses and share experiences as they happen. And because Over the Shoulder was designed specifically for the smartphone, we were able to make it much quicker and easier for participants to do things like capture photos, record audio, and capture HD video.
But in developing Over the Shoulder as a smartphone-only platform, we had to make a choice and a sacrifice. If we built the platform only for smartphones to get deeper into consumers’ realities, we would be unable to replicate many key features that make enterprise platforms like QualBoard so powerful.
For example, the impactful “social” dynamic that lets board participants see each other’s submissions and react to them just can’t happen as well on a smartphone, with its relatively tiny screen and keyboard (believe us, we and many others have tried). Similarly, there’s really no way we could make a smartphone screen accommodate powerful QualBoard features like markup and screen-sharing.
On the other hand, an in-the-moment in-store journal that includes multiple instructions, logic and a few video captures can is cumbersome on a board but simple and quick on a smartphone qualitative app.
The Over the Shoulder team made a conscious choice to build an app-based platform that would work better on the smartphone to get deeper into people’s in-the-moment realities.
As various other online qualitative platforms have entered the market, each has had to make a similar choice: is it better to 1) build a smartphone-focused app for their in-the-moment insight advantage or 2) build a web app that supports powerful desktop and smartphone interaction but may pay a price in terms of in-the-moment capture.
It used to be that researchers doing smartphone qualitative had to make the same choice…do I want the broad capabilities and social dynamics of a multi-method discussion platform, or do I want to be truly in-the-moment and “in the pockets and purses” of participants through a mobile ethno app?
You can see where this is heading. 20|20’s acquisition of Over the Shoulder makes us the first partner that can offer you whichever approach best suits your needs. Whether it’s QualBoard’s flexibility and robust functionality or Over the Shoulder’s dedicated in-the-moment smartphone qualitative capabilities, we’ve got you covered. You can even include BOTH in a single project, while still working with a single point of contact. No more sacrificing one for the sake of the other, and no more dealing with single-method partners whose platforms can be hammers that make them see every problem as a nail.
With the Over the Shoulder platform now part of 2020’s innovative set of online qualitative tools, we’re in a unique position to answer a question that many people are asking: “What’s better, digital discussions or smartphone qualitative?” And the answer is, both.
If you’d like to hear more about 20|20’s acquisition of Over the Shoulder and learn more about what’s in it for you, contact your account manager or feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.