The History of Digital Transformation in Marketing Research

Rafael Roxas
Oct 03, 2021

Defining Moments of Digital Transformation that Influenced Marketing Research Technology

It’s surreal to believe that digital transformation is 60 to 70 years old. Ever since the microchip and today’s widely-used semiconductor transistor were invented, we’ve made steady progress in advancing the digital age in every decade. Its influence has become so ubiquitous that the ways we conduct our personal and professional lives are now widely enabled by the tools and services we use that embed digital components.

The proof can be seen when you track the growth of IT spending around the globe. In the year 2000, IT spending was calculated at $1.35 trillion which rose to $3.35 trillion in 2010. In 2020, the numbers were even greater with IT spending totaling $3.76 trillion despite the difficulties incurred by the global pandemic. 2021 will see an even bigger increase with the prediction set at around $4.07 trillion.

As digital natives start to slowly dominate the workplace population, the demand for better and more efficient technology continues.

Digital Transformation in Market Research

Over the last decade, online qualitative research has become an essential methodology across the market research industry. With COVID-19, its significance has doubled. Many researchers have turned to online focus groups, online communities, online in-depth interviews, and other mobile methods of gathering data to fill the void left by in-person or in-lab research restrictions. Digital transformation works to make it all possible and continuously ensures the survival and expansion of online methodologies.

Here are a few trademarks of digital transformation that have influenced the development of market research technology:

Online market research tools are heavily dependent on the internet, personal computers, mobile phones, tablets, and super fast internet technology. None of them would be where they are today if it weren’t for analog computing shifting to the digital landscape starting in the 1950s. Innovations like the ARPANET and 2G may sound dated, but they were pioneering innovations that started us on the path of global qualitative market research.

By the 21st century, technology shifted toward a quality-of-life approach. Innovation became geared towards reliability, speed, convenience, security, connectivity, and possibility. Cloud computing paved the way for well-developed apps and services that help host our market research web rooms, community boards, and ethnographic software. The Internet of Things (IoT) now greatly influences product testing where devices are being developed to transmit their own data for troubleshooting and utility. And AI technology supplies AI-specific tools like chatbots for more self-sufficient data collection.

With remote work, platformication, and digital solutions set to remain well into 2022, the next decade for qualitative research looks big and bright.

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