Editor's note: Tim Macer is managing director, and Sheila Wilson is an associate, at meaning ltd., the U.K.-based research software consultancy which carried out the study on which this article is based.

Technology has never been more important to market research than it is today. Our annual survey of software and technology at research companies around the world has revealed an ever-broadening choice of research methods and technologies in everyday use, facilitating research and delivering the results. Yet our survey has also uncovered some disturbing lack of preparation among research companies for the sweeping changes that technology is making to the world, particularly in the areas of data visualization, text analysis and the growing phenomenon of respondents taking online surveys on smartphones.

This annual survey is carried out by meaning ltd and includes the views of technology decision-makers and influencers at 230 research companies in 36 countries. Sample is selected in proportion to the amount of research carried out in each country, according to ESOMAR’s Global Market Research Report. Results are presented unweighted and we advise that you consider all figures reported to be indicative in nature and not use them as a basis for projections.

Here, we present some of the highlights of the 2011 study. You may also download the full report at meaning.uk.com/mrss.

Each year we ask about the proportion of market research companies offering each of the principal modes of research. Mobile self-completion was introduced as a mode in 2009.

When online research reached passed the 90-percent level of penetration in 2007 it looked as if it this mode was close to saturation point. Since then, it has reached 96 percent. We also asked for volumes of research conducted by each mode (not shown) and by our estimates, half the world’s research is now done online.

Asked about wher...