Editor's note: Chris Forbes is co-founder of Research Reporter, a Melbourne, Australia, research software company.

In the early ’90s I attended my first market research debriefing as a young marketing manager. Sitting with my colleagues, I listened patiently as a senior member from the research agency presented the findings, starting with an outline of the objectives and finishing an hour and a half later with conclusions and recommendations.

On the way home that night I stopped at a record store and bought a CD (Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, if you must know). At home I put the disc in the CD player and sat down. I liked half the tracks but couldn’t be bothered to get up off my chair to skip the ones I didn’t.

Fast-forward to 2012. What’s changed? To start, we don’t have to go the record store; music can be purchased online – right from my chair. We can preview part of a song and purchase it, rather than buying an entire album and paying for tracks we don’t like. Then once we’ve downloaded the music, we can create our own playlists. We can skip from track to track the instant we get bored. This change in music access and consumption has resulted in the demise of the traditional pre-packaged album and set off a chain reaction that is reshaping the music industry.

But what has changed since the ’90s regarding how research is accessed and consumed? Well, we appear to have finally mastered PowerPoint. We’ve stopped trying to squeeze two pages of data onto a single slide. We understand how to use images and video to enhance our message, rather than distract. We’ve also generally got the right mix of verbal and visual information necessary to keep the audience engaged.

This command over the research presentation would have been appreciated 20 years ago but is “the presentation” the best communication medium for research today? Have we perfected research’s equivalent of the music album just as t...