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  • 28 Apr 2017 2:04 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)
    From Delta Sky Magazine

    By Joseph Flaherty, March 2017

    In 1967, Herman Kahn, a nuclear physicist and futurist at the Rand Corporation (who also served as inspiration for the character Dr. Strangelove), wrote a book called The Year 2000 in which he made 100 predictions about what the next 33 years would bring. He was surprisingly prescient in predicting mobile phones, real-time banking systems and a pervasive surveillance apparatus. His predictions that humans would hibernate in homes staffed by robots and powered by personal nuclear reactors haven’t held up so well.

    Still, 50 years after Kahn made his bold predictions, we asked a group of academics, technologists and entrepreneurs to provide a shorter-term perspective on the most impactful technologies and trends that are likely to influence this year and beyond.

    General purpose artificial intelligence that can think and communicate like a human—what computer scientists call “strong AI”—remains a sci-fi fantasy. However, artificial intelligence trained to excel at a narrow focus, or “weak AI,” has turned out to be a versatile technological solution to many vexing problems.

    Using an elegant technique called deep learning, weak AI is what Facebook uses to tag people by name in photographs. It’s what allows Google to complete your searches before you even finish typing. Weak AI can develop new ways to beat video games, write sports stories based on a box score, create a creepily accurate copy of your voice and even write lyrics to a rap song. Weak AI has become powerful enough to best humans in the complex game of Go, decades sooner than experts had expected.

    This progress has led credible technologists, economists and venture capitalists to believe we could soon have a future in which tax preparers, paralegals, insurance underwriters and others find themselves out of jobs. Estimates from the World Economic Forum suggest that AI-based automation could cause 5 million jobs, mostly white collar, to be lost by 2020. Worries about the availability of desk jobs have replaced fears of a destructive robot uprising.

    But not everyone is certain that robots will rob humans of meaningful work. “Humans want to make things and to buy things. So I’m confident we won’t run out of work anytime soon, even as automation increases in some professions,” says Thomas Rid, a professor of security studies at King’s College in London and author of the book Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History. “And let’s not forget how difficult it is to automate jobs that require a high degree of adaptation and improvisation: Anybody who thinks robots should long have taken over from plumbers, dentists or construction workers probably has a fanciful notion of robotics and AI.”

    Rid suggests that predictions should be based on real technologies, not science fiction. “Whenever we approach the machine-as-human—and the term AI does that, pretending that machines could become like us, with artificial brains—we tend to fool ourselves. Let’s not approach AI by looking at science fiction, but by looking at existing technology.”   

    By that measure, AI is an unqualified boon. AI gives artists new tools to create, provides real-time translation to facilitate cross-cultural communication, has made autonomous cars a reality and has given some health care providers the ability to provide more targeted cancer treatment.

    But while AI makes some people wary, the most pressing cybernetic threat we face may be the tiny black box sitting under our TVs. Last October, hundreds of thousands of DVRs, webcams and other seemingly harmless internet-connected doohickeys launched a coordinated cyberattack that temporarily took down websites such as Twitter and Spotify. It was resolved quickly, but it did highlight weaknesses in our online infrastructure.

    “Like an early version of our highway system, the internet was not architected to support the massive volume of content and data that it now supports,” says Kyle York, chief strategy officer at Dyn, a startup that provides critical back-end infrastructure to companies such as Twitter and National Geographic. “The internet is also more volatile and prone to disruption than most people would think.”

    The Internet of Things, the umbrella term for the ecosystem of smart light bulbs, smoke alarms, door locks—most of which house small, though powerful, computers—can wreak havoc. These low-priced gadgets are rarely seen as threats and become ripe for hacking. A computer programmer recently demonstrated that a web camera was infected by a computer virus just 98 seconds after being plugged in. To give a sense of scale, there are 6.8 billion cellphone subscriptions across the globe, and experts forecast there will be 20 billion connected devices in people’s homes by 2020, increasing the risk for future attacks.

    “Network security will continue to evolve as bad actors respond to the solutions that industry experts develop to patch vulnerabilities. It’s a wild game of cat and mouse,” York says. “Increased vigilance and the realization that advanced mitigation tools and techniques need to be employed to provide greater threat detection and security will help. Predictive technologies will become a major defense as companies aim to move from disaster recovery to more of a disaster avoidance posture.”

    Not being able to access Twitter is a pain, but the scarier “cybersecurity” threats are personal. Imagine a scammer who disables the smart lock on your front door until you pay a $5 ransom via Bitcoin. Or a hacker who threatens to disable your smoke alarm unless you give him access to your Facebook account. There may come a time when you’ll need to buy antivirus software for your vacuum cleaner.

    Tech has had a dark side since the days of dial-up, but until recently, it was possible to filter the good from the bad, even if it meant disconnecting. In 2017, tech’s dark side threatens to spill out into the real world, and the way we think about technology is going to have to change—quickly.

    Amazon is Walmart on steroids, and Netflix is the logical extension of the corner video store, but the basic act of shopping isn’t that different from what existed before the internet—it’s just faster and better. But advances in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity promise to reshape our world in ways that are harder to predict. And whether you’re a cybernetic chicken little or an entrepreneur thrilled by emerging technology, one of the preeminent tech historians of our day says it’s mostly guesswork in the end: “History has a clear lesson: Most of today’s predictions are going to be wrong,” says Thomas Rid. “Futurists in the past got far more predictions wrong than they got right.”

    In the words of Terminator’s John Connor, “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” Regardless, buckle up, because it’s going to be an exciting ride. 

  • 25 Apr 2017 12:39 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Full Story

    Nicole NguyenBuzzFeed News Reporter

    When you sign up for a free online service, you’re usually giving up your personal info in return. Here’s how to find out just how egregious that data collection is.

    If there’s only one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

    The New York Times recently reported that, an email management app that promises to de-clutter your inbox, sold its users’ anonymized Lyft receipt data to Uber. claims that it’s “trusted by millions of happy users” — but it’s likely that those users weren’t aware that they were forking over their personal emails to Slice Intelligence, a digital commerce analytics company. Now, some users are pledging to remove their inbox accessfrom and delete their accounts.

    The fury is a good reminder of the ol’ Internet adage, “if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.”

    But some sites are much more egregious than others. So here are some ways you can assess an app’s trustworthiness and find out if your free faves are problematic.

    What does “you’re the product” even mean?

    When you sign up for a free online service, you’re most likely giving up something in return: your data. On sites like Facebook and Google, that means the service uses your personal information (like your interests, location, gender, marital status, or age) to show you advertisements they think you’d be interested in. Last year, Facebook made more than $26 billion from advertising.

    For many people, this sounds like a good trade off: You get to use something legitimately useful, like Gmail, for free, and the most visible consequence is an advertisement. But other companies go much farther., for example, didn’t use user data to target ads — it looked at individual emails and sent them to Uber.

    And if you found that story about Target knowing a teen girl was pregnant before her father did thanks to extensive customer data collection to be pretty creepy, you should know that that same kind of analytics-based-advertising-influence has probably been exercised on you.

    How do I know what companies are doing with my data? Is it safe?

    Be very careful about what kind of access you give apps. To do that, closely at what you’re agreeing to when you sign up.

    For example, when you sign up for, you’re giving the service the ability to read, send, delete, and manage your email. This is a good time to ask yourself: Does the service really need all of these permissions? Do I trust this service?

  • 19 Apr 2017 10:14 AM | Rick West

    Since 2010, mobile solutions firm Field Agent has been on a mission to “change the way the world collects business information and insights.”

    Today marks another milestone in revolutionizing how companies learn about their in-store products, operations, and competition.Jicco Search Engine: Instant Answers to Pressing Retail Questions


    Introducing Jicco, the first on-demand, retail search engine, designed to furnish business professionals with “instant answers to pressing retail questions.” As reported by Supermarket News, the search engine will change how retailers, brands, and agencies obtain real-time answers about store-level promotions, pricing, on-shelf availability, competitive activity, and shopper sentiment.


    Jicco Testimonial by Danni-Lynn Kilgallen, National Retail Account Manager, Energizer Holdings


    “Professionals across the retail and branded goods industry are strapped for time and under considerable pressure to have all the answers," said Rick West, CEO and co-founder of Field Agent. "We’ve merged our efficient mobile crowdsourcing system with a simple search engine interface to create the world’s fastest way to get real answers from the field.”  

    Dan O'Shea, contributing editor at Retail Diveagreed with West about the hurried nature of retail and the need for fast answers:

    "West is right about the challenges facing many retail professionals, and as these folks jump between projects and try to keep all of their plates spinning, having fingertip access to some relevant data certainly will help them. Why shouldn't retailers get a curated portion of the internet all their own, right?"

    Currently in beta testing with plans to roll out nationally in April, Jicco is already being used by hundreds of brands, retailers, and agencies to acquire on-demand answers from stores across the country.


     Jicco Testimonial by Brian Stormes, Field Vice President, Henkel Consumer Goods

    How Jicco Works

    Users will simply visit, type in a basic question about in-store conditions, and, within minutes, watch as photos, information, and shopper feedback begin streaming in from stores across the country. That easy.

    Jicco Search Engine: Instant Answers to Pressing Retail Questions

    Sample questions could include:

    • What’s the price of store-brand toothpaste at Kroger?
    • What does the special Tide detergent display look like at Walmart?
    • What signage stands out most in the baby products aisle at Target?    

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper tested the search engine and reported receiving an answer within 17 minutes: "That rapid response can be critical for companies, that are often in need of data quickly and may not be able to fan out fast enough to get it," the paper stated.

    According to West, Jicco harnesses Field Agent’s retail expertise, proven technology, and all-mobile “crowd” of more than one million shoppers to more quickly connect companies with their widespread products and operations.

    Jicco has been in the making for the last seven years,” he said. “In that time we’ve built an extensive mobile crowdsourcing system, which Jicco will now leverage to answer store-level questions with unprecedented speed and ease.”    

    Read the Official Press Release.

  • 05 Apr 2017 6:31 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    By Emma Garside, GKA

    April 5, 2017 

    As with many other areas in our lives, technology has had a seismic impact on both the quantity and quality of information we can now access via patient market research. Thanks to personal technology such as smartwatches, fitness trackers and video cameras, researchers now have more options for data collection than ever before. As opposed to traditional methods, today’s researchers can access targeted patients across the globe, instantly. And thanks to new and constantly improving software, all this data can be collected and analysed right away, empowering businesses to stay ahead of the competition and make informed decisions, fast.

    So, if you’ve not considered using personal tech in your patient market research before - or if you’re looking to expand how you use it – read on to discover five important ways technology can revolutionise the information you access.

    1.      Smart Watches

    Tech within smartwatches is becoming more advanced with every new release. So no matter what type or brand your patient has, smartwatches can open the door to unprecedented levels of insightful data. Not only are many of them able to monitor medical data such as heart rate, but they also give patients the option to record audio or video, take photos, communicate directly with researchers and reveal their GPS location. This in turn gives researchers the ability to collect information such as patients’ activities and feelings, remotely and in real time, which can then be used as a basis of a conversation later in the research project.

    2. Fitness trackers

    Fitness trackers were specifically created to give users direct and instant access to their own medical and fitness-related data - and consequently, they also offer the same opportunity for researchers to dive into the patient’s world. So whether you’re monitoring patients’ blood pressure, sleeping patterns or heart rates, fitness trackers enable researchers to easily track and collect medical data as well as related data such as anxiety levels or how strenuous certain activities are and what improvements could be made to help patients cope.

    3. Video cameras

    Ten years ago, an ethnography project would have been impossible without several large, expensive and intrusive cameras positioned within a patient’s home. But with the advances in wearable cameras such as Go Pros, participants themselves can become the researcher, providing just as much (if not more) information as a traditional ethnography project by wearing head or body-mounted units that record live video or audio streams for real time analysis. What’s more, because they’ll be delivering data in a way that doesn’t interrupt their daily routine, it’s likely make your mobile ethnography study even more insightful.

    4. Market research online community platforms

    Private platforms such as market research online communities offer researchers the next best thing to being by a patient’s side. Not only do research communities allow researchers to build relationships with potentially hard to reach patients without any kind of observer influence or bias, but they also act as a support system for the patients, giving them the chance to speak to people dealing with the same challenges as they are – resulting in a thriving, engaged community that delivers unbeatable insights. By asking patients to carry out specific tasks such as blogging about their life and how their condition affects them, recording video diaries explaining how they take their medication or explaining how treatment makes them feel and how their day-to-day lives could be improved, researchers can easily access rich and insightful information. What’s more, all the data is collected in real time, enabling researchers to quickly and simply analyse it to create heat maps and word clouds or export transcripts.

    5. Neuroscience

    Finally, although advances in neuroscience may be less accessible to participants in their day-to-day lives, they offer researchers huge advantages in the scope and accuracy of data they can obtain. By using advances in fields such as eye or heart rate tracking or facial coding, researchers can unlock how people respond to anything from advertising materials and patient information leaflets to products and packaging designs. What’s more, neuroscience can also look beyond any inaccurate or misleading answers given through fear or embarrassment of giving the ‘wrong’ answer, digging deeper to access the facts needed to develop truly insightful research.

    These five points are only just scratching the surface when it comes to technology and patient market research, so if you’d like to know more, download our guide to mobile qual.

  • 29 Mar 2017 6:40 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)
    From MediaPost by Ray Schultz , Columnist, March 29, 2017

    The headline for Thom Wheeler’s op-ed piece in The New York Times today says it bluntly: “The G.O.P. Just Sold Your Privacy.” Wheeler is referring to the House vote on Tuesday, blocking FCC privacy rules passed during the Obama administration.

    This rollback would allow cable firms and wireless providers to exploit your “browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information gleaned from your online activity” any way they want, writes Wheeler, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

    We’re sure he’s right. But consumers won’t be the only victims of this foolish piece of deregulation: The real losers will be brands that market online. They have just lost control of their own data.

    Nobody has analyzed this yet, but here’s one possible scenario, based on historical precedent. There was a roaring controversy years ago about American Express using data from the transactions it processed to send catalogs and other product offerings to cardholders.

    The argument took place behind closed doors, and memory has faded on some points. But American Express was competing with its own clients -- direct marketing companies that accepted the AmEx card.

    If  L.L. Bean was selling jogging shorts, American Express could see that and offer jogging shorts (a hypothetical case). Obviously, it didn’t go over well: Catalogers argued that these consumers were their customers.

    The program went away. But fast-forward to the digital age. The ISPs and telecoms will now be in a position to do the same thing. They can take the behavior prompted by your seven- or eight-figure marketing budget and use it to peddle data.

    In short, they’ll be getting a free ride on your marketing spend — on SEO, email, mobile and display. It will end up in court, and there will be no easy political formula for judging it. And even if the broadband providers cut deals with you, it will be an attribution mess.

    What’s next? Will credit card processors also have the right to sell your sales data?

    The next problem is even bigger. The privacy theory in Europe (and much of the rest of the world) is based on affirmative opt-in, not a dubious opt-out. As Jess Nelson reported in MediaPost on Tuesday, Flybe and Honda and were hit with fines in the UK for sending “spam.” But if we’re reading it correctly, those emails would scarcely cause a ripple in the U.S.

    Martin Abrams, executive director of the Information Accountability Foundation, told MediaPost last fall that “you can think with data and draw insights in the U.S. That’s a competitive advantage because thinking with data is an unregulated activity. Outside the U.S., you have to have a justification even to process data.”

    Clearly, we’re going against the European rules. Is this U.S. marketer’s version of Brexit? 

    So just what rights will U.S. consumers have under this scheme? Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) asserted on TV last night that people can opt out. (He didn’t seem too sure of it). But another article in today’s Times states that broadband providers “today let you 'opt out' of using their data, although figuring out how to do that can be difficult.”

    The article adds that the “digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation suggests you might pay to use a virtual private network, which funnels your internet traffic through a secure connection that your provider can't see into. But good VPNs aren't free, you have to figure out which ones you can trust,” he concluded.

    Meanwhile, you the consumer can forget about the line between anonymous digital data and personally identifiable data. As Abrams has said, “it’s inevitable that the shadow you and the real you will come together.”

    But let’s be fair. The Obama-era FCC rules had not yet taken effect, so Republicans are arguing that nothing has changed. They’re right — it’s a wash. What has been altered is the bipartisan accord that existed on the privacy issue. It wasn’t always good for marketers — even the pro-business GOP took a strong privacy stance. But it was consistent. Well, no more.

  • 07 Mar 2017 4:07 PM | Rick West

    Hey, Alexa.

    Hey, Siri.

    Hey, Google.

    “Intelligent personal assistants” are revolutionizing how we obtain information, manage our households, and entertain ourselves.

    But, will IPAs—and the devices they live in: Amazon Echo, Apple iPhone, Google Home—ever become a go-to method for shopping and transacting purchases?

    Do Echo Owners Make Purchases Through the “Smart Speaker”?


    This weekend, mobile solutions firm Field Agent surveyed 318 certified Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap owners. Our ultimate purpose was to determine whether Alexa-users are utilizing the IPA to shop for and make purchases, and the full results are now available in our free, downloadable report: “Shopping with Alexa.”

    Click to download Shopping with Alexa - Survey Reveals Purchase Behavior of Echo Owners


    See Also: Will Drone Delivery Fly with Shoppers? Download the report, “Buy & Fly Retail”!


    Participating agents were required to capture video and photos of their Echo—meaning every participant in the survey was a bona fide Alexa-user, carefully verified through Field Agent's quality control process. 

    Field Agent’s free, downloadable report, “Shopping with Alexa,” includes several additional insights:

    • Attitudes toward shopping with Alexa
    • Top Alexa-based purchases
    • Most popular brand names—Domino's? Uber? Campbell's?—among Alexa “skills”
    • Reasons why some say they're apprehensive to shop with Alexa

    The complete report is now available for free. Download it today!

    And be sure to subscribe to the Field Agent Blog, recently ranked in the top 10 of Feedspot’s best market research blogs on the planet.

    Download Free Shopping With Alexa Report

  • 04 Mar 2017 2:45 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    From SSI blog Feb 24, 2017

    Mobile phones offer researchers critical features: the ability to gather visual information through photos and video recordings. These features can help researchers develop a much more nuanced understanding of context and customer behavior. The practice of mobile visual ethnography—using pictures and videos to gather important context clues about consumer behavior—is growing. What is Ethnography and… Continue reading →

  • 03 Mar 2017 3:52 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Mark Michelson, Executive Director of MMRA gives his view on current mobile qualitative platforms and iPhone apps.

    Click here to view webinar recording

    Or copy and paste this URL in your browser:

  • 03 Mar 2017 12:55 PM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    Check out the latest use of voice recognition with Mobile/IoT technology in this post. Are you ready for the future of MobileMR beyond the smart phone?

  • 03 Mar 2017 9:03 AM | Mark Michelson (Administrator)

    I recently watched this webinar presented by SSI and Greenbook on leveraging the power of mobile to understand the customer journey. 

    There are some terrific mobile benefits, study design tips and case studies featured in this webinar. Check it out by clicking the link below:

    Click here for the SSI Customer Journey Webinar

    Or copy and paste this URL in your browser:

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