Design research is a powerful tool in the interaction designer's toolkit. It allows designers to get away from their desks and out into the field where the product will be actually used. It can bring insights and inspiration that can change not only the end product, but even the strategy as well. New markets and new opportunities can be found, and the designer becomes immersed in the subject matter.
But, as Jesse James Garrett noted in his essay ia/recon,3 "Research can help us improve our hunches, but research should inform our professional judgment, not substitute for it."
But research alone is almost useless. At the end of the research period, you have a pile of observations and data that are mostly unformed and not particularly helpful. The research data needs to be analyzed and turned into structured findings. Without the critical next step, what you've seen and heard will likely not make its way into the product. Research analysis and the making of structured findings are the subject of the next chapter.