Background Of the Study
According to a 2020 global research assessment of the global business climate led by Kantar TNS, a leading research firm, the insights engine was the most important feature a firm needs to continue good business growth (Redlich-Amiray, & Higginbottom 2014). An insights engine is a company’s gathering of market and consumer intelligence that is aided by technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. The study concluded by describing various building blocks that have been identified to aid organizations in successfully creating and maintaining growth for all important stakeholders, particularly their customers (Nunan & Domenico, 2013). When these building blocks are joined, they should ideally focus on being human-centric, recognizing and addressing the requirements of all stakeholders, providing ever-evolving experiences for customers, and tapping into the unlimited power of creativity, data, and technology.
Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft, the world’s leading software manufacturer, famously stated that information technology and business are inextricably linked, with both being nearly ineffective without the other. The word “information technology” refers to the use of any type of technology to process, store, and communicate any type of information (Terashima,2002). Different entities have characterized technology in various ways, and one such definition described it as a two-fold resource with both a physical and an informational side. According to this concept, the physical aspect comprises of things like products, processes, blueprints, and machinery, whereas the informational aspect consists of ‘knowledge’ in the form of insights or capabilities in various parts of work (Kumar et al., 1999, quoted in Seror, 2012). Different definitions, mentioned in Lee (2001), by Lovell (1998) and Bozeman (2000), define technology as not only the expertise included in a product, but also the application of this expertise in other forms. Technology, in its various forms, has been described as a vital tool on which the success of every business depends, whether heavily or otherwise, and which enables them to gain and possibly sustain a competitive advantage over competitors (Kyerematen-Jimoh, 2018).
Data, which is closely related to technology, consists of small bits of information, some of which may or may not be relevant to a certain reason (Sanders, 2016). As the description says, data is enormous and can take various forms, leaving it up to the user to decide what is important or helpful. This raises the question of how much data is available to organizations globally and how they may successfully traverse the multitude of data. Data is developing at a rapid pace as new types of technology are developed, and together, they are driving transformation in economies around the world (Kagermann, 2015). As a result, data credibility has become an issue, causing businesses to become more deliberate and strategic in their use of technology and all that it entails. This places a significant strain on organizations’ monetary resources and time, increasing the demand for commercially provided trustworthy firm or industry-specific data, particularly for entities that cannot afford to run independent market research departments.
With the advancement of technology, the establishment of a “virtual universe” comprised of platforms such as the Internet, where data and information are made available to people online to facilitate research, occurred. Digitization, which is the conversion of data and information into digital form so that it can be read, processed, stored, and shared by computers and used to conduct effective market/commercial research (Butina, Campbell, & Miller, 2015), has greatly facilitated the availability of information on such channels. Kagermann (2015) defined digitization as the confluence of actual and virtual worlds enabled by information and communication technology, as well as the connection of people regardless of geographical location or scope. Market research has been simplified with the features, as traditional paper business/market research is no longer available.
According to research, the majority of data collected in Ghana today is neither mined or harvested for value production reasons, and instead ends up as valueless, unstructured data (Kyerematen-Jimoh, 2018). Data on the research industry is, as expected, extremely sparse. In terms of commercial research, the last 10 years have witnessed an inflow of foreign research firms entering the country, such as Ipsos and Kantar, to meet the country’s steadily expanding demand for commercial market research data. These global corporations have access to newer and superior technologies, as well as the ability to conduct private research on their own.
Although the presence of such organizations provides new potential for research to reach new heights in Ghana, their advantageous position places them in a position that is nearly out of reach of the normal business entities in Ghana, who may not be able to purchase their services. Several indigenous commercial research firms have sprouted up to fill this void, but they have their own particular hurdles in terms of expertise. Furthermore, a good proportion of skilled local researchers work as consultants to corporations or in research or marketing departments for corporate bodies, rather than moving into private commercial practice, which has its own set of obstacles. Until now, the country has lacked a unified entity through which local researchers can be identified. This has made it impossible to obtain information about researchers and has put the pooling of resources and expertise almost entirely out of reach for indigenous research practitioners, who would have gained the most from unionization. This outlines the study’s main goal, which is to investigate the impact of technology and digitization on market research in Ghana.
Statement Of The Problem
The major role and goal of research is to promote the discovery of ideas and the development of theories in order to contribute to the growth of bodies of knowledge (Morse & Field, 1996). The qualitative branch of research is concerned with the conceptualization of real life and the recording of people’s unique experiences in a way that preserves this knowledge apart from the researcher’s ideas (Morse & Field, 1996). With the use of technology, qualitative researchers may now not only reach out to more people, but also gather, process, and distribute research findings more rapidly and effortlessly. This has been demonstrated by the shift from the use of analog data collection systems such as handwritten notes and tape recordings to the use of technologies such as transcription software and online meeting rooms.
Digitization was also brought about by the proliferation of technology in qualitative research, which changed the technique and form of information storage and dissemination. Early qualitative researchers who witnessed the proliferation of technology expressed concerns about its use altering the field’s known and established analytical and methodological structures, because technology introduces new biases (Davidson & Di Gregorio, 2007, as cited in Moylan, Derr, & Lindhorst, 2015). However, for quantitative research, it is clear that the proper application of technology has substantially contributed to enhancing efficiency, speed, and expanding the researcher’s boundaries without necessarily changing the basic structures (National Academy Press, 1989). As a result of these changes, new difficulties in the research arena have emerged that researchers must be aware of in order to maintain the quality of their research. One example of qualitative research is the increased distance between the researcher and the subject, which might have an impact on the depth of the research if not addressed (Gibbs, Friese & Mangabeira, 2002). Another advantage that could be leveraged is the research industry’s (qualitative research included) emphasis on speed and innovation. Clients’ expectations of the research they pay commercial/marketing research firms to conduct have risen as a result of this growth. These marketing research firms must now find ways to rise to the challenge in order to remain relevant and in business.
For researchers in Ghana, the task is even higher: first, catching up with the rest of the world in terms of research technology use, while also mastering the use of locally available technology to provide higher value to customers. As a result, qualitative researchers in Ghana must keep informed and regularly refresh their expertise as they use modern technology, which has increased the complexity of their jobs. A survey of data available on successfully navigating the technological era of qualitative research conducted revealed a significant deficit in the study of the subject, particularly in the African setting, where technological improvements have been relatively slower than in other regions of the world. This discovery prompted this investigation of the impact of technology and digitization on marketing qualitative research in Ghana.
Technology is evolving and will continue to dominate various parts of business. Although it provides numerous benefits to qualitative researchers, it may produce even better results if the researchers were armed with knowledge of how to maximize the benefits and possibly mitigate any negatives of technology use. This study will thus investigate contemporary technology available to and employed by qualitative market researchers in Ghana, with a focus on how its application has influenced the outcomes of their work. This will be done with the goal of learning from the findings and recommending best practices for technology application in qualitative research conducted in Ghana.
Objective Of The Study
The general aim of this study is to examine the impact of technology and digitization on market research in Ghana. Therefore, the study is specifically aimed at;
1. Investigating the benefits of technology for commercial/market research firms in Ghana.
2. investigating the effect of the use of technology on the outcomes of the market research process.
3. Find out the best technological tools that researchers in Ghana should deploy to provide superior results for their clients.
The questions below will guide this study;
1) What is the benefit of technology for commercial/market research firms in Ghana?
2) Does the use of technology in market research have any significant negative effect on the outcome of the research process when compared to the traditional method of research?
3) What are the best technological tools that researchers in Ghana should deploy to provide superior results for their clients?
Significance Of The Study
The findings of this study will contribute to the body of existing knowledge concerning qualitative market research conduct, particularly in the African context, which is quite limited, and the study will also assist qualitative researchers in Ghana in having a better understanding of technology use in their field, offering ways for them to reap more benefits from their current technology use, and essentially providing It will also suggest ways for them to mitigate any negative effects of technology use. For researchers in Ghana, where the use of technology in qualitative research is still not widespread and intensive, this could be an opportunity to broaden their horizons and stay ahead in their field by utilizing more technology with the proper understanding of how it benefits them.
Scope Of The Study
The study examines the impact of technology and digitization on market research in Ghana. The study is specifically focused on investigating the benefits of technology for commercial/market research firms in Ghana, investigating the effect of the use of technology on the outcomes of the market research process, and finding out the best technological tools that researchers in Ghana should deploy to provide superior results for their clients. The study is therefore limited to Oxford Research Group and Researchlime Ltd NEW OFFICE, Ghana.
Limitation Of The Study
In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.
In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.
Definition Of Terms
Research-is “creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge”. It involves the collection, organization, and analysis of information to increase understanding of a topic or issue.
Researcher-a person who carries out academic or scientific research
Commercial Market Research-is often conducted to answer a specific business question, which means the research has to be conducted within the timeline required by the business question – which is typically rapid.
Qualitative Research-this is a kind of research that relies on data obtained by the researcher from first-hand observation, interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, participant-observation, recordings made in natural settings, documents, and artifacts.
Market Research-is the process of determining the viability of a new service or product through research conducted directly with potential customers.
Digitization-is the process of converting information into a digital format. The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document, or signal by generating a series of numbers that describe a discrete set of points or samples.