Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Integrating Social and Behavioral Data at Microsoft

An Interview with Reed Cundiff, General Manager of Customer and Market Research

By: Andy Burrows, Digital Content Marketer, Informa 

For Reed Cundiff, General Manager of Customer and Market Research at Microsoft, the key to progression in the insights industry all starts with your outlook - “having that growth mind-set to be able to say: there is opportunity space to learn and grow”. We caught up with Cundiff as part of The Research Insighter series of interviews, to discuss the current big ‘opportunity space’ within integrating data collected from new sources.

When trying to understand the often overwhelming amount of social and behavioral data being collected, Cundiff has approached it humbly, realising he and his team would have to learn “sometimes from our failures and sometimes from our successes”. It can start with something as simple as “being comfortable with a variety of different approaches” and knowing “where the bar is and what success can look like.”

At Microsoft they have spent several years trying to understand their social data, “not just to understand volume metrics, but how what is going on in social can relate to and, ideally, predict what is happening in the offline world”. Unpicking the social sphere is challenging enough, but using that data to then predict changes in the offline world is the Holy Grail for many working within insights.
For Cundiff the rewards of success are clearly worth it: “One of the things we’ve been able to do is look at social volume and sentiment within a given category, targeting specific products, to be able to get a sense of what the future purchase intent and sales will look like for that product and that category as whole.”

Alongside social insight, Cundiff is now able to “gather data around how people are using our products at a pretty significant level of depth”, which has revolutionized how Microsoft measure customer satisfaction.

He explains: “A typical product satisfaction survey would really skim the surface in understanding the stated behavior that folks have with a product as complex as Microsoft Office… If we are able to combine the behaviors that people opt in to share with us to get a sense of how they are using the product every day, and link that with a survey that talks about their thoughts and feelings on that product, then we are able to get a much more rounded picture of, not just how they feel and what they think, but how their product interactions reflect that.”

The results have “enabled our product satisfaction research to go much deeper in prescribing what we think we need to build into the products, where we need to fix our customer experiences and how we need to engage with customers even more generally.”

Though Cundiff and Microsoft have clearly had successes, it is typical of his approach to insights to remain focused on the bigger picture: “We have to view it as a journey, not simply as a project that will get graded A-F at its conclusion.”

Watch the full interview below:

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