Drowning in data? How to cope with the data explosion.
Victims of our own success
Market researchers have become very, very good at gathering data. Maybe too good. Since the dawn of probability sampling in the 1930s, we have drawn upon ever greater numbers of data streams, widened the scope of surveys and found new technological solutions to engage with customers. The base quantity of raw data has always been increasing, but in the internet age, the river has become a flood.
The problem is not specifically in the amount of data itself, but in the way it’s handled. After all, better results are achieved when data is gathered from a statistically significant group – the more representative the group, the more valid the conclusions. The issue is one of scale – the exponential growth in data creation (with 90% having been created in the last 2 years alone) has stretched the ability of traditional data processing and analysis to keep up.
Finding the needle in an ever-expanding haystack
The sophistication of data collection techniques means that we are, potentially, better able than ever to understand our customers. However, this is only true if it is possible to quickly and accurately draw insights, providing business with actionable direction. If the scale of the data results in a bottle-neck in processing, the value of that data can be reduced – or worse, critical information can be completely overlooked. In a true ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ scenario, the success of our data collection techniques can be the very thing standing in the way of adding value to business.
- Step 1 – data collection
- Step 2 – data processing
- Step 3 – insight delivery
The hidden value – or the hidden cost
As always in these articles, we try to look at the business imperative, the “why should I care” question. With data volume, the answer is simple – ROI. As a market research business, you’ve invested significant capital in refining and expanding your ability to gather data at scale. Every percentage of that data that lies neglected, unused, represents a cost which cannot be balanced – a lost opportunity to convert research into revenue. Customers aren’t buying data – they’re buying insights. Fail to deliver those insights and customers will look elsewhere.
So what’s the answer?
In a word, streamlining. Successful businesses will be those that can take advantage of reporting solutions that reduce the time from data to action. A great solution is one that can provide all of the data to all of the stakeholders instantly, clearly and personalized to their role. It’s about providing full data transparency without adding complication.
Want to learn more about how this is applied in the real world? Read on, where we look at the challenges of large volume data reporting at Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport.