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    Big Data is the Big Story

    Michael Anderson, SVP, Head of Sales, North America

    ‘Twitterization’, and by that I mean the constant and increasing demand for fast, real time information, is permeating rapidly through all facets of life.  In business, the need to make decisions laser quick and with reliable, actionable and high quality data is of paramount importance to stay relevant and ahead of your competition. ..  The world is constantly evolving, changing and “upgrading”.  When you think you have the most recent version, it’s time for an upgrade. You like a page, share a link, read a news article and it’s already outdated.  You’re tagging while everyone else is pinning.  It is no wonder why business decision makers feel overwhelmed.  Having the ability to harness, interpret and make decisions with the most up-to-date business intelligence will separate the winners from the losers.  Since the emergence of the idea of “big data” several years ago, the demand for more understanding of it has increased exponentially and it’s becoming more and more important to brands and businesses everywhere.  In fact, many higher learning colleges and universities including my alma mater Fairfield University have been busy developing and rolling out new Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Analytics!

    In the business world, this all translates to a need for as much data as possible. But it can’t just be any data for today’s decision-makers, it has to imbue with as much accuracy and reliability as possible. When I’m making an important business decision, I want any and all information relevant to the decision to be able to throw into the “meat grinder”. I want to know everything I don’t know and confirm everything I think I know. When we have that kind of data, we’re really talking about more than just Big Data: we’re talking about Big Analytics. It’s all about how you interpret information using the up-to-the-minute technology of a cloud-based dashboard.

    To tell the whole story behind a decision, you need the technology to capture relevant and accurate data from all the sources of information available including social media, transactional and financial data, point-of-sale data, and even dark pools of data lurking in your organization. In the Market Research world, all of these forms of data can be blended with survey research data to potentially tell a more complete story. When we strengthen survey research with these myriad forms of relevant data, we’re telling a story that’s not just five chapters long, now it’s 10.  Do we have the time?  Won’t a microburst of directional data suffice?

    Time to Leverage the Power of Big Analytics

    It seems clear to me that the Market Research industry is failing to fully leverage the power of the global collection of information out there. For example, are we taking full advantage of the vast store of information in the Internet of Things, which contains data on every smart device, appliance or machine that exists? How much can we learn about a person from data about their smart tablet, car or home? And what strategic business decision would a market researcher recommend if they could fuse multiple streams of data quickly and accurately? If we ensure the information is accurate and relevant, the potential is virtually unlimited.

    I believe companies that are not taking up residence in the land of Big Analytics are destined to fall behind. This is a particular problem for companies to whom the digital world is strange territory.

    One Caveat

    The demand for real-time data gathering and analytics is sure to accelerate through 2016 and 2017. But we in the industry need to be aware that the faster we gather and use data to help clients make decisions—in response to the demand for faster, better, cheaper information and analytics—the more we run the risk of relying on data of uncertain quality. We need to always keep in mind that any story we tell and any decision our client makes is only as good as the quality of the data and analytics.