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Bob Kahle on Practical Strategies to Leverage Technology for Deeper Insights

I am Bob Kahle, a veteran evaluator and frequent AEA workshop presenter. As owner of Kahle Research Solutions, a research and evaluation firm with a qualitative methods focus, I am writing today to offer practical tips to leverage new tools enabled by advancing technology.

Lesson Learned: Ease into it. Most evaluators are aware of tools like Bulletin Board Focus Groups (BBFG), web enabled telephone focus groups or in-depth interviews and using mobile devices to collect data in text, audio or visual forms. Knowing about these techniques is a good start, but many of us get stuck at how to actually implement some of these new digital methods, as it seems risky and may be out of our personal comfort zones. Consider using some of the new methods in combination with existing approaches to gain experience, confidence and rich insights.

Hot Tip: Using new online tools is not an all or nothing situation. Consider hybrid designs where you couple traditional tried and true techniques with new digital methods. For example, if you just completed focus groups with your target population in traditional face-to-face settings, consider inviting back the most articulate “rock star” respondents to participate in an online (BBFG). In this way, you can still gain the benefit of in-person discussions, but can leverage technology by bringing together especially insightful participants in a virtual and convenient asynchronous data collection mode. Ease the burden on respondents by letting them work in their environment and on their schedule. Finally, if you are like me, you always have the nagging feeling after the last focus group of “I wish I would have followed up on….” Instead of beating yourself up, organize and implement a BBFG to ask those follow-up items you did not have the time for (or think of) in the face-to-face setting. BBFG results are often so rich and detailed that your new problem becomes synthesizing and organizing the wealth of information so clients can digest.

Rad Resource: If you want to learn more about new digital methods and how to apply them, consider attending “Digital Qualitative: Leveraging Technology for Deeper Insights” an AEA hosted eStudy which I will conduct on May 20 and 22.

Rad Resource: Attend the AEA Summer Evaluation Institute June 1-4 in Atlanta, GA for an array of great sessions including one with the same title as above.

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