mrmwsignI really enjoyed my time last week at Merlien’s Market Research in the Mobile World 2011 – a great place to meet and exchange ideas with the people and companies working to make effective mobile research a reality. We discussed the nitty-gritty of mobile survey applications, and the big picture of mobile adoption around the world. Taking it all in it’s hard to argue that mobile won’t play a major role in the future of the market research industry, both in the developed and developing worlds.

Here’s the thing, though. Most of the conversation during the conference focused on the “what” of mobile research – how to reach people, or whether or not to keep surveys short(er). Very little was said about the “so what,” even though that’s where we as research professionals can earn respect and remain relevant.

Technology firms were ascendant; discussions about what to do with the data far less extensive. And while this was perfectly appropriate given the emerging nature of mobile survey applications, it made me wonder about how we'll do once mobile's fully arrived as "the 5th methodology."

Right now of course more people are asking why mobile? than are asking how mobile? There are very good answers to that question (It's immediate! It's in the moment! It lets us into places we haven't previously been invited!), but we should be careful not to confuse these methodological arguments with useful research answers. As mobile research mainstreams our clients will stop questioning its validity and start demanding its utility. Will we be prepared? Or will the current inclination towards DIY mobile research turn into another nail in the traditional market researcher coffin?

Hey I'm someone routing for MR to adapt and thrive (coffins are creepy). Let's play to our real strengths - the ones that really should be true regardless of methodology.