1) What are the benefits and limitations of using information technology to transform traditional focus groups into online focus groups?
Benefits of using IT vs. traditional
i. It is cost effective in the long run.
ii. It is faster and so saves time.
iii. A diverse number of participants can be invited.
iv. As opposed to the traditional method, the online system of focus groups ensures that every participant has almost equal involvement and domination of the discussion by certain participants is reduced to a minimum.
v. Transcription of the session is easily created and is very close to the real discussion.
vi. More responses can be recorded in a smaller span of time.
vii. Personal biases are eliminated in online focus groups.
viii. The sphere of influence of the participants is much larger. It is global, in fact.
ix. It is easier to invite participants due to no travelling cost. Anyone with an internet connection can join.
x. Logistics cost is also minimum.
Limitations of using IT vs. traditional
i. Short term costs are very high. Such costs include the cost of installing the system, training costs of participants and moderators and operating costs.
ii. Power failure and system crashes could create problems.
iii. Time zone differences may be an issue with participants.
iv. Cultural differences between participants may also affect their responses.
v. The risk of the information collected from the discussion being hacked by competitors or others miscreants is very high.
vi. 100% attention of the participants cannot be ensured.
vii. Impersonation is very possible which may distort the result of the discussion due to improper responses.
viii. Participants without internet connection or computer knowledge will be left out of the study.
ix. For focus groups regarding physical products, this method may not produce desired results as participants cannot touch see or taste the product leading to ambiguous responses.
2) Would you...