Dedoose – providing context to qualitative research

One of the challenges that I have found over the years in my career has been getting technical (read engineering) people to accept and appreciate the value of qualitative research.


In marketing, customer feedback is a critical part of understanding what customers need and value.  Whether the feedback is around product features, advertising, customer satisfaction, messaging, or other important customer engagement areas, qualitative research plays a key role.

Technical people by nature tend to gravitate towards quantifiable data.  This is why surveys with Likert scales (e.g. 1-5 ratings) or numbers driven research (the volume of units or click data) is frequently favored by more quantitative minded people.  Part of this is because qualitative data is, by the very nature of the data, open to interpretation and easy to manipulate.  Regardless, while quantitative data provides the measure, qualitative data provides the flavor – it provides the deeper understanding behind the quantitative data.

Because of the challenge of presenting qualitative data to broader audiences, I’ve learned over the years to use several tricks to make this data more palatable.  Things like boiling down the data to the ‘Top 10 most common statements” or “This message was consistent among X number of focus group participants”.  This works in some cases but it still leaves a lot to be desired.

Enter a fantastic new tool called Dedoose.  Dedoose is an online research tool that can be used individual or in teams of researchers.  It allows for the management of qualitative data or mixed methods input (both qualitative and quantitative data).

Dedoose provides a structured way to code transcripts from customer interviews, focus group research, email or online responses (think customer service emails as research input!).  Based on the coding, the data can be manipulated and presented in ways that make it understandable and broadly usable.  Because of the workgroup capabilities, people outside the research team can be given access to the data for their own review and manipulation (dangerous, I know – but at least possible!).  WebBasedFullSize_2

One of the (many) nice things about Dedoose is that it’s easy and fun to use.  Our research group had several folks that were not computer or data oriented and they were able to immediately begin using Dedoose and contribute to our project.

Why is this such a powerful approach?  It allows marketing teams to conduct research using different methods and use the Dedoose platform to integrate them into usable, actionable data fast and accurately.  Spending time defending qualitative findings is non-productive time for marketing folks.  Tools that provide better integration, analysis, and presentation of qualitative data are invaluable in getting to the answer more quickly and getting organizational understanding more quickly.


I have no direct relationship with Dedoose other than as a subscriber.  I’m using it in some of my academic research and it’s one of the new tools that I’ve come across that I believe provide real value for marketeers.


Recognizing Actual Net Worth

Many people ask me about the genesis of iTaggit and why I would create a site for ‘things’.  The question usually is positioned based on the perspective of the person that is asking the question and it veers from one extreme to the other.  For example, a serious collector of antiques asks why we’d create this site when Antique collectors are historically not web friendly.  Others, who have a lot of clutter, ask why it’s relevant to them.  Both sides miss a critical point which is the germ of the iTaggit idea – that’s that each of their holdings represents a significant asset which is either likely undervalued or not valued at all.

The reality is that people’s net worth is made up of three major baskets (sorry for everyone who is sick of hearing this from me):

1) cash and marketable securities  – easy to value, easy to track, everyone is interested in them, etc.
2) large value items  such as homes, cars, boats – a little harder to value, need intermediaries to sell, etc.
3) everything else you own – very difficult to value, hard to track, really hard to connect to others with interest.

Creating a set of tools and an eco-system of services is what I view as our mission.  Helping users convert their items to true assets is our overriding goal and mission.   It’s not only about organizing or selling items (which are both important aspects of converting items to assets) but also about protecting the value of your assets.  Here is a blurb from a recent US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT on managing ‘clutter’:

“Everyone should inventory his or her possessions in case disaster strikes. Right. “it’s the unusually prepared person who has done an inventory,” concedes Michael Barry of the Insurance Information Institute. But Hurricane Katrina and the California wildfires are spurring people to action. Getting ahead of disaster is as easy as walking around the house with a camera. Then send the pics to a safe place outside the home. That bare minimum can help reconstruct belongings after a fire, flood or burglary.”

My mission is to help users optimize their net worth by helping them recognize their true net worth, whether they want to convert items to cash (sell) or just organize and value what they have.  As the economy and the equity markets come under more and more pressure people are going to need to be able to harness the value of everything that they own.  I think it’s an important cause and continue to try to drive iTaggit towards providing a valuable service for our users.

The next economy

The economic situation continues to change as our excessive consumption catches up with us. This isn’t a viewpoint from a radical anti-capitalist, it’s the view of a excessive consumer. As our money supply tightens people are going to begin to look at what they have collected and try to convert it to a more fungible commodity (ie, cash!). In order to do this, people are going to need to find tools that help them organize collections of the things that they own or are no longer using.

This surplus asset base is ripe for harvesting. As people are tightening up on cash they are looking for deals. Maybe a used DVD or piece of furniture is a better investment than forking out cold hard cash for new stuff. Maybe there’s a need for liquidity and that comic book collection could bring some needed dollars back into the account. Not only does that person need to manage collections of their things, but they also need to research their collections. One of the biggest barriers to selling on sites like eBay is the fear of being ripped off. iTaggit is trying to provide tools to help users manage, organize, and research the value of things that they have.

I’m interested in research about how much true value is sitting dormant in people’s homes. Think about your home. How much money do you have tied up into surplus assets?