NEWS15 December 2010

New firm ChatCloud sets sights on online research


UK— A new business called ChatCloud has been set up to offer online qual and quant services to end clients and research agencies.

Robin Shuker, who previously ran BIA Research, is managing director of ChatCloud, while Terry Donegan, who was formerly MD of research software company Ebox, serves as chairman. They are joined by technical director Simon Perry and creative director Mark Haddon.

Over the past year ChatCloud has been developing proprietary software for services including online surveys, chat groups and one-to-one video interviews. Its system for qual research allows participants to chat live, share media and interact using whiteboards.

The firm has won clients in areas including online usability, retail and new product development. BIA Research, which Shuker set up alone in 2005, becomes part of the new business.

Shuker told Research the firm has focused particularly on design and usability, to make the online research experience easier and more engaging for participants and researchers.

On the topic of scepticism of online qual tools, Shuker said: “We’ve done lots of head-to-head tests of online versus offline and we’ve found that online allows us to get in to more depth on more topics. The biggest criticism is that you can’t see people’s eyes, but increasingly people are comfortable with expressing themselves digitally.”

“Clients are very enthusiastic [about online qual] because they recognise the benefits of the methodology,” he said. “The main critics tend to be traditional research agencies who maybe have not had a particularly good experience in the past because the person doing it has not been trained in best practice for online qual.”