Growth in times of crisis – Qualitative research continues to gain importance

December 5, 2008

A growth market in the midst of crisis – qualitative research gains increasing importance. That is also felt by producers of qualitative analysis software.

Boom in Qualitative Methods

Only few sectors can look ahead optimistically or even speak of growth during the current world economic crisis. The field of qualitative research is one of these few exceptions:
Not only market and economy research institutes benefit from this situation but also manufacturers of analytics software.


Qualitative methods have experienced a significant boom over the past years. And the current economic crisis seems to have not slowed this boom. Quite to the contrary: More and more qualitative analyses are being carried out, more research grants are invested in this field, and qualitative methodoldies are increasingly discussed in publications.

Making complex data interrelations visible

The causes for this boom are varied. Qualitative methods are optimally suited for an understanding of complex coherences and the analysis of context. To understand the increasing complexity of data, environments, and decisions, researchers turn more and more frequently to qualitative methods. Global crises, such as the financial crisis or climate change, demand a more precise analysis of existing data from science and research in order to depict interrelations, causes and solutions in an efficient way. Thus it is not surprising that qualitative research is booming in times of crisis.

Also from a technical standpoint, research has significantly shifted to online channels over the past years. More and more studies collect information about theis subjects’ attitudes and opinions digitally. Additionally, more companies collect customer data from direct contributions such product evaluations, photos, and videos. All this highly varied data cannot be meaningfully processed without the aid of qualitative research approaches. Any expedient interpretation of customer opinions, complaints, inquiries etc. calls for a qualitative analysis.

Computer-aided analysis prevails

This amount of qualitative data cannot be fully interpreted with conventional methods. Especially where digitally collected data and multimedia such as photos or videos are concerned, the use of professional analysis software is a necessity. Over the past decade, computer-aided data analysis has emerged as a standard for studies of all ranges and various complexities. The market for such programs has been growing for some years constantly.

This growth is confirmed by Thomas Muhr, president of ATLAS.ti GmbH. ATLAS.ti is one of the leading programs for qualitative data analysis. Thomas Muhr reports on the development of his company: “Since our latest major version release in 2005, sales have increased by nearly 50 percent and we experience higher growth rates every year. Additionally, Campus and multi-user licenses are in high demand. The number of our worldwide distributors continues to grow continuously, and we have very positive feedback concerning orders for the coming years.”

ATLAS.ti has developed swiftly during the past fifteen years. Today, the program is used all over the world, and major companies and institutions such as Microsoft, SOS-Kinderdorf, United Nations, the World Bank, Google, Yahoo! employ ATLAS.ti to analyze their qualitative data. “We assume that the market will keep on growing. In discussions with our customers we notice that the questions become more and more complex and that the volume of data to be processed is becoming so large that it cannot be done without powerful analytical software. Additionally, the spectrum of sectors has become increasingly broader–an unmistakable sign for positive development in the field of qualitative research,” adds Muhr.

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