The automation takeover? How to co-exist with robots

Market Research, Qualitative Research


Automation has moved into the world of qualitative research, and it’s safe to say it’s here to stay. For years now, robots have threatened the jobs of quantitative researchers only, but now that the latest technology has crept into the world of qual, is your job at stake? Will robots, one day, replace the role of humans in qualitative research? Lucky for you, the answer is no. Robots are simply working with humans to better the insight for our clients, and for now, they are happily co-existing.

Even luckier for you, robots are not only making your job easier, but they are even highlighting your value as a researcher. But before we get into the good stuff, let’s quickly review where we are with automation in qualitative research.

Robots are already quite possibly more involved than you might imagine they are in qualitative projects. Robots are perfectly capable of acting as the interviewer, the ethnographer, and even the prober during the data collection stage. But it doesn’t stop there. They are also able to analyse the data in real time and create usable reports, even with recommendations. Better yet, they can do this much, much faster than a human – saving 80% of the time it takes humans to analyse the data and come out with a report.

So where do you, the researcher, stand in this new era?

This technology is continuously advancing, so how can you make sure you’re marked safe during the automation takeover? Here are a few tips to help qualitative researchers not only survive, but thrive, in this new era of automation.

  • Take advantage its weaknesses. Automation has a lot of weaknesses, and these weaknesses highlight your skills as researchers. The reports created by robots can only go so far, and humans are left to put forward their creativity and expertise to connect the dots fully, and also read between the lines. Humans are programmed (for lack of a better word choice) to understand the context, the emotions, and even sarcasm, far better than a robot. The latest technology helps researchers get to the ‘what’ quickly and accurately, but it takes the researcher to truly understand the ‘why’.
  • Practice empathy. You’re able to truly empathize with the client from start to finish. After all, in the end it’s a human to human job. Robots are just there to speed up the process. You have the consultancy power. You’re able to identify the specific problem unique to each client, which is critical in forming the research design. Then, you can take the data and work out the bigger picture. This bigger picture is used to create an optimized strategy for the client.
  • Let your expertise shine. You need to know when to automate, and when to think. Automation speeds up the process of qualitative research, automating the mundane and tedious tasks, to empower the researcher with more time to be creative and use their unique skill set – the stuff that really matters. And that’s the true, deep insight that ultimately meets the client’s objective and takes the insight to another level.

It’s time to embrace the future of automation, because if you don’t, you won’t make it in this new era. You need to be the person who is actively looking for new technology, for more efficient ways to do things, while simultaneously strengthening your own skills that can’t be automated.

Our final tip in thriving in an automated world is to avoid being first, unless you’re prepared to fail more than a few times. The most successful brands, like Apple and Google, most often aren’t the first to try out the latest technology. They instead follow in the footsteps of the guys who take the risk. So, we at L&E, rely on our trusted technology partners who are embracing the latest technology, and have a proven track record of success. If you don’t want to get left behind, stick with us. Check out the latest technology used by our partners in qualitative research in our emerging methods and technology white paper here.