insight about their economic prospects generally is a critical responsibility of all businesses, especially their leadership teams. However, insight is not data, no matter how big. Insight is real understanding of opportunities, economic prospects, and threats. Dare I say it: Ultimately, insight is wisdom!
There's a constant need to refine and explore the most appropriate processes for generating business insight. Hence, the never-abating market research literature that describes and evaluates all manner of techniques for teasing out insight - often in excruciating detail! But here's the reality: There are really only five fundamental, proven processes - literature reviews, surveys, phone interviews, personal interviews, and focus groups/panels. And they all have their place.
The point I want to make is that there is sometimes no substitute for personal interactions, i.e. personal interviews and focus groups/panels. Other techniques are often easier to arrange, inevitably less expensive, and often adequate to the mission at hand if the goal is to acquire data. When the goal is to inspire insight, there's something powerful about talking directly with others, when visual and vocal nuances are shared and respondents reveal their reactions in full detail. Personal interactions are best suited to understand the 'why' behind the 'what'.
Developing insight about the likely future prospects of potential new products and services is a large part of what we do. To support my point
I share a summary of one consulting engagement
dealing with opportunity assessment in the field of point-of-care patient assessment.
Ours was a five-step project that included a literature review, an online survey, phone interviews, and expert panels. Only during the final step, roundtable discussions including relevant medical experts, did we establish two new findings: (1) some additional clinical applications were worthy of pursuit, and (2) several serious impediments to product adoption were created by the lack of a full understanding of how the proposed product measured what was claimed.
Full, personal, interactive discussions among the experts made all the difference.
Your computer and your phone are both tempting tools. Don't sell personal interactions short; they can be critically important in your search for insight.