A few weeks ago I had the chance to attend a “meet and greet” sales showcase, where a handful of online market research companies were each given eight minutes to talk about their unique approaches to solving research challenges in today’s market. This was an eye-opening experience for me, because as a researcher rather than a salesperson, I typically don’t get to see what other companies have to offer, unless I take the initiative and do some competitive research on my own.

agile market researchWhat struck me most about this experience is that every presenter stressed how agile their company is, and how quickly they can provide results to the client. Time after time I heard, “Get your results faster… quick turnarounds … Now. Now. Now.”

It makes sense, with “agile” being the new trendy MR buzzword these days.   But it also got me thinking … is all of this speed really what we need? Sure, by definition agile means to be “quick” and “nimble,” but it also means to be “mentally acute or aware.” This second definition is to me what agile market research is all about, and while it means we need to gather and analyze the data quickly and nimbly, it also means we should know when to take more of a long-term, iterative approach to ensure quality insights over quick delivery times.

More so, it means knowing which approaches are best to use in different scenarios, and how to deftly interpret the data into actionable plans. Agile market research is not about getting results quickly—it’s about reacting quickly as a researcher, and knowing what to recommend and when. It’s an iterative process, and at times, the recommendation could be to conduct a further analysis rather than run with preliminary results. Sometimes one quick study just isn’t enough.

There is no one platform, service, tool, or strategy that can be considered agile. It’s the sum of many different options, and the art is knowing when to use each tool at your disposal for maximum results.   And sometimes, taking some time to fully research an objective is the most agile strategy. After all, who wants to rush to market with a concept that, while it was certainly researched quickly and nimbly, also fell prey to the “Now Now Now” mentality, and as a result was not fully analyzed or even tested? Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and fully gather and analyze your data, rather than act quickly, and possibly even rashly.

That’s not to say everything needs to be overanalyzed and bogged down in too many reviews. There are times when the answer is easily identified, and no amount of iterative analysis is going to uncover something different. Survey data, anecdotal quotes, and the like all point to the same result, and a client can feel confident in running with it. But, on the flip side, there are times when it’s best to thoroughly review data, possibly reconfirm some findings, and even reach out for more qualitative insights and anecdotes to further support what you’re seeing. At the heart of agile research is knowing when to opt for speed, versus fully delving into a research need.