“’The data-centered economy is just nascent,’ admits Mr. Mundie of Microsoft. ‘You can see the outlines of it, but the technical, infrastructural and even business-model implications are not well understood right now.’” (Data, data everywhere, The Economist, February 25, 2010)
The Economist’s article “Data, data everywhere” from last year addresses the fact that we are aware data is constantly being collected, from pretty much everything we do, and that it can be tracked. It also admits that no one really knows what to do with that information. However, it is apparent that when “managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.”
So How Do We Manage All of This Information That is Flooding in at an Ever-Increasing Rate?
That answer is that we utilize the information in conjunction with market research. Large companies like IBM are purposely purchasing data mining and information management companies (i.e. SPSS Statistics) to help them understand their vast quantities of usable information. With people like Google’s chief economist (Hal Varian) predicting that “the job of statistician will become the ‘sexiest’ around”, it is clear that market research firms need to make a move. Market research companies’ data and research teams are already fluent in statistics. Further this ability with the knowledge and understanding of how to mold data analysis into usable results and you have a winning combination. If market researchers can successfully break into this field, they will be able to take information management to an entirely new level.
How Can We Survive as an Industry Without Utilizing This Wealth of Information that Companies are Trying to Understand?
All in all, the new “industrial revolution of data” is integral to the future of market research. I predict that to survive in this industry, we need to learn how to partner with companies and utilize their vast data information pools. The best predictor of whether or not someone will do something is past behavior. This said, using data collected on past behavior in conjunction with market research method will create realistic and generalizable outcomes with actionable insights. We can take our industry to the next level without being left behind. If statisticians are the new sexy, then market research firms can be the V.I.P section of a swanky new spot in town. The resources are there, let’s figure out how to get a piece of the pie and provide the most useful insights possible for our clients.
Megan Holstine, Research Analyst