The other day I was sitting down with a client to discuss the potential for creating a qualitative research program to support a long-term program of work that impacts the work life of thousands of internal staff. As we were discussing the merits and necessity of taking on this work, the client said to me,
"I have data. Reams and reams of data. What I need is intelligence."
It was an acknowledgement that the traditional methods of gathering product adoption and usage data only tell us so much. Spanning from NPS scores, percentages of product use, durations, and activity down to surveys of customer perceptions of usefulness and satisfaction, none of it could explain why.
Why are people abandoning a product or service? Why are people unable to adopt the service fully? What barriers make product adoption difficult? What problem is the new product actually solving? Perhaps more importantly, what problem is the product not solving?
A qualitative research program can be the diagnostic tool your organisation needs to ensure the challenges staff or customers face are understood and that the solution itself actually addresses the challenge and does not introduce new challenges. Better yet, taking on the baseline qualitative research before any solution has been selected or created will ensure the requirements you set forth for your solution (particularly when we're talking IT) are driven by the staff and customer experiences you want the solution to enable.