Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'll have Big Data on rye with a schmear of survey, please.

... and women too.
Big Data. Big Data. Big Data. It’s becoming a catch phrase. A lot of people are talking about it without even knowing what it is – including me! We’re wringing our hands as an industry, trying to figure out how to deal with something so large it’s hard to define and something that changes/grows moment by moment. And we want to deal with it perfectly – because that’s in our nature. Perfection has always been the enemy of the good in market research. It’s our Achilles’ heel. Meanwhile, start-ups in unexpected sectors are jumping in with both feet and perfecting as they go, like Salesforce.com and this may be our undoing.

I recently had a conversation where a large survey organization - fretting over the expected “thin surveys” of the future. With mobile apps and embedded tracking of online behaviors, survey data is in the process of being displaced. Combine this with shorter attention spans and small screen venues, surveys are definitely going on a diet. And shorter surveys with less complex analysis means leaner margins if you think of yourself in the survey business.

This is just the first shot across the bow and it’s coming from the industries sourcing all this Big Data. If we don’t dig in and lead, if we allow the start-ups to out-nimble us and allow those in other sectors who create the data to be the first to provide analysis – even if it’s imperfect – we’ll be left to fight over the thin scraps of the survey business that remain.

Time to pull up our big boy pants and jump in with two feet, just like we did on social media. And online. And neuroscience. And virtual stores. And mobile. Time to go get Big with Big Data so that we can do it the right way and integrate a thin slice of survey - like a condiment - to make it all go down easier.

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Today's guest post is from Kelley Styring. Styring is principal of InsightFarm Inc. a market research and consumer strategy consulting firm. She has led insights for Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Black & Decker and NASA prior to founding her own firm in 2003. Kelley is a published author and has been featured in USA Today, ABC News, Good Morning America, Brandweek, Fortune, Quirk's Marketing Research and The Market Research Daily Report from RFL Online.  She will be live blogging from The Market Research Event 2012 this November 12-14 in Boca Raton, Florida.  If you'd like to join her, register today and mention code TMRE12BLOG to save 15% off the standard rate!

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