If you’ve been following our blog over the last several weeks, you’ve read or heard about the ways iMotions is helping brands and academics enhance research by getting out of the lab (most notably with our Online Data Collection module and Mobile Research Platform. But just because we are expanding research possibilities into the real world doesn’t mean that we believe lab-based environments have peaked. Rather, we are sure that human behavior research labs will remain the centerpiece of modern research – both in academia and the commercial world.
For years, iMotions has developed and kept improving upon our industry-leading behavioral research lab software. Our desktop-based, lab solution is and has always been an invaluable tool for any R&D or academic researcher trying to glean insights from respondents to fuel research, development, production, and marketing decision-making processes.
The difference now is that the world of research is changing, and researchers need flexibility. With iMotions Online Data Collection and the Mobile Research Platform, the data collection process can happen where respondents live out their daily lives: on the internet and on the move. However, data collection is only one tool in a researcher’s toolbox — analyzing that data and gathering insights is just as important.
The brains of the operation
With the aforementioned new data collection solutions that iMotions is currently rolling out throughout 2021, the desktop-based lab solution has become more critical than ever. Aside from being a multi-modal data collection powerhouse in itself, with all its applicable modules, our lab solution shines brightest when it comes to analyzing your collected data. With the expanded data collection capabilities (Online and Mobile) now available to our customers, the need for a strong analytical platform is critical.
The best way to see the iMotions product sphere could be to regard the desktop-based lab as the brain that connects the various data collection platforms and software, and in turn, makes sense of all the information collected from either the immediate lab or from respondents out in the world through either of the new remote data collection solutions.
The reason for this, and the reason for the enormous importance of the lab setup, is that it remains the central analytical software for all information collected with any of iMotions’ data collection options. When we thought about how to build the infrastructure of data collection and data analysis for the future, we realized it would be counterproductive to use anything other than our tried and true central lab software to analyze data. In short, your lab is running even if your data is coming from the other side of the world.
Everything it can do and more
With the desktop-based lab solution becoming a more versatile, analysis powerhouse, its primary function is still to be the industry-leading software solution that more than 1500 clients all over the world rely on when conducting their research.
Our lab software solution can help researchers in both academia and the commercial sphere maximize their research output and streamline project designs, data collection, and analysis across multiple teams if the need should arise.
The lab offers continuity, collaboration, and depth of insight. By implementing, or having access to, a lab – whether that’s one station or dozens – you can integrate the best and latest technologies for the most complete understanding of the person, population, or behavior you are studying; for example, you can deploy studies when consumer feedback provides value (i.e., always); and your teams can begin to look at the same data, providing insights at the margins. Studies in the lab may not be as nimble, but researchers can use a wide range of sensors, see data in real time, and have greater control of variables to drill down on specific areas.
In academia, a central human behavior research lab becomes a vibrant intersection for multiple departments to access insights that go much deeper, and are more accurate, than surveys and questionnaires alone. In doing so, it creates collaborative opportunities that can make the lab a prestigious center by opening the door to working with high-profile, cross-university partners.
In the commercial space, this means all of your teams – such as R&D, product testing, UX/UI testing, marketing, and customer behavior research – work in the same platform, have access to the same data and potentially work collaboratively at different stages to gather relevant crossover insights.
Too often, human behavior research is underestimated and undervalued during product development and distribution, often reserved only for marketing around a launch process. This, of course, neglects the critical role that customers can play in shaping how, why, and where that product can fit into their lives. Adopting a more holistic strategy for customer research can give manufacturers and distributors a much-needed competitive edge in that crucial, often quick, decision-making process in the mind of customers and respondents.
Greater than the sum of its parts.
Steve Jobs famously said that “creativity is just connecting things.” We’re big believers in that because more often than not, creation is about envisioning and piecing together what most people do not see as being connectable, but is nonetheless. That is very much the case for our hardware-agnostic approach to the iMotions Lab. By creating software that cares exclusively about the functionality and quality of the hardware rather than the brand, we created something the market had not seen yet, something that we believe is greater than the sum of its parts. Having created a piece of hardware-agnostic software also allows us to partner with a wide range of top-of-the-line hardware producers on the market for the benefit of all our clients.
For businesses, this can mean that breakthroughs can be more a case of variation rather than true invention, and research at various stages can fuel that process. For academics, it means that connecting research across departments can provide a richer understanding of human behavior and the human condition.
This connected approach differs slightly on campus but is largely in search of the same thing. By teaming up, or working off research conducted with the same technologies, researchers in different departments – whether in Healthcare, Psychology, Communication, Economics, Marketing, Philosophy, or any other – can use their unique skillsets to make discoveries that would take much longer otherwise. The future of university research not only looks more deeply at human behavior, but it seeks to harmonize cross-campus, multi-disciplinary thinking.
Some of this is likely to, and should, take researchers out in the field, but the glue that keeps the research together will continue to be the lab. We see this as providing the best of both worlds, where our clients are enabled to both collect the best data, as well as having the best analysis tool for any given research project.
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