Keyboard with New Skills

Courses and Workshop with NewMR – 2018

Sue York and Ray Poynter are widely involved in a wide range of training initiatives and consultancy, with NewMR and a variety of organisations including trade bodies, client-side companies and research suppliers. In this post, we highlight some of the courses we are currently offering to your company or organisation. Using Social Media to Build Your Brand Australian-based Sue York, who is one of the most connected insights professionals in the APAC region (see here and here), will show you how you can use Twitter and LinkedIn to build your brand. The workshop covers: Creating an impactful and memorable profile; How to find the relevant discourses; Finding your voice; and, using tools to increase the impact and reduce the workload. The workshop can be delivered as a half or full-day session at your offices (in Australia or within the APAC region), as a series of online lectures, as an e-learning course, or as consultancy. For more information about this course, or to find out about availability and costs, email admin@newmr.org.   Five Courses for Insight Professionals UK-based Ray Poynter, has selected the five courses/workshops that are currently the most requested: Find and Communicate the Story in the Data. We all know […]

Chart showing Donald Trump Popularity and Unpopularity over time

How to Use Comparisons to Understand Data

Most individual numbers do not mean very much. In many cases, in order to see the real meaning in most data, you need comparisons. For example, if I tell you that the Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx won 11 Grand Tours, you will no doubt guess that he was a good rider. But, when I tell you that 11 is the most any rider has ever won, and that only one other rider has won 10, and only one other rider has even won 8, then you start to get a sense of how special Eddy Merckx’s was. So, this post focuses on how to use comparisons to understand the story in the data, and how to use comparisons to communicate the story in the data. How Popular/Unpopular is Donald Trump Nate Silver’s FiveFiftyEight.com provides a wealth of data on US sports and politics and provides a really good example of how to use comparisons in their regularly updated series ‘How popular/unpopular is Donald Trump?’ The chart below shows the picture on 12 October 2018, 631 days after Donald Trump took office in January 2017. Note, in the US the election for a new President is in November, but the President […]

Lights in the trees

Bias Runner 2049

Story-with-a-meaning post by Ray Poynter, 11 October 2018 Tom Torquemada was looking forward to his interview today, he was off to the Global Broadcasting Corporation to talk about his work, and he loved his work. Tom was a Bias Runner, one of a team that hunted down and retired errant AI systems. Tom had been thinking overnight about the best, non-technical, way to describe what an errant AI system was and how he and his colleagues identified them. The scale of the problem was clear to everybody – nearly everything today, in 2049, was determined by AI. Machines and bots determined who got a job, who got the next home loan, who might commit the next crime, and whether in this brave new world your schooling/conditioning would result in you being a labourer or artist. But with this transfer of power to the AI machines came a fear, a fear that the machines might not play fair, they might be biased or simply error-prone. The job of the Bias Runners was to find the biased or error-prone machines and ‘retire’ them. There were two key types of problems that the Bias Runners were looking for ‘biased machines’ and ‘unstable machines’. […]

AI illustration

Answers to Questions about Artificial Intelligence

Note, in response to questions, I have started adding additional answers at the foot of this post – and I will be tweaking some of the existing answers. The post was first uploaded on 13 September 2018, and was most recent changes made on 18 September 2018. [Ray Poynter] One of the hottest topics around at the moment is artificial intelligence (or AI). Indeed, it has become so hot that many people are reluctant to ask simple questions in case it makes them appear out of touch. So, this article provides answers to some of those simple questions. 1) Is artificial intelligence already in use? Yes! Siri, Alexa and Google home are examples of AI. Driverless cars, the facial scanners at airport security, and Google translate are also all examples of AI. Programmatic advertising, Amazon’s ability to predict what we want, and Netflix’s analysis of viewing are all AI. One of the features of tech is that we tend to change its name once it becomes commonplace, just as the electric iron became the iron, and the smartphone is becoming the phone, we have stopped thinking of everyday AI as AI. 2) What exactly is Artificial Intelligence? There is no […]

Image of Angry Bird game

Will anything replace PowerPoint soon? (a forecast from 2011 revisited)

Posted by Ray Poynter, 29 August 2018. Until 2012 I used to write a blog on Typepad and recently I have been tidying it up so that the blog can be deleted. The post below was originally posted on 30 July 2011 – back in the days when Angry Birds was all the rage. I thought I would re-post this blog now to help emphasise how little has changed and how far we are from having a new paradigm for reporting. “Will anything replace PowerPoint soon? Posted by Ray Poynter, 30 July, 2011. It is hard to imagine anything replacing PowerPoint in the foreseeable future. There are some key elements that a system for delivering results and insights has to have to be a standard, including: Available technology, the system needs to be able to produce PDF files and a file format that can be widely read by clients (e.g. Excel, Word, or PowerPoint 1997-2003), or WMV. The standard deliverable must not need to access the Internet, the intranet, or supporting files. The standard deliverable needs to be static, so that different clients see the same view, this rules out deliverables like What-if models, GapMinder, and interactive tables. The standard […]

Image of digits

How many significant digits should you display in your presentation?

Posted by Ray Poynter, 27 August 2018 Too many digits can obscure the story being communicated by numbers. Let’s consider a simple example from a trip to your gym and its hi-tech weighing machine. Perhaps the machine says that your weight is 101.7865 kilograms and that it should be 82 kilograms. The story is that you are about 20 kilograms too heavy. To see the story you need to focus on comparing 102 kilograms with 82, not 101.7865 with 82. If your presentation or report displays too many digits you will obscure the story you are trying to communicate. The choice about the right number of digits to display is the choice about how many significant digits to display – the topic of this post. Digits Obscure – Example 1 Consider the table below, which is extracted from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and shows how many mobile phones there were in each of the countries displayed, from 2010 to 2017, per 100 people. If you click on the data tables they get bigger. The data shows four decimal places and is not very easy for most humans to quickly review. This data is not friendly for the analyst looking […]

AMSRS Conference 2018

The excitement of the new and the best of the old – AMSRS Annual Conference 2018

Last week I had the honour to attend the Australian AMSRS Annual Conference in Melbourne, and once again it was a great event, leaving my head full of new ideas, and my batteries re-charged with a love for market research and insights. The success of the AMSRS conference was built on four key pillars: The people, starting with Leslea Clements and Elissa Molloy, extending to the wider AMSRS team (staff, board members, volunteers etc), and the programme committee. The excitement of the new, in particular the way the invited speakers made a point of pushing the boundaries of what we mean by market research and asking questions about where next? The best of the old, AMSRS makes plenty of space available in its programme for social research, methodology papers, case studies, and initiatives such as the better surveys project – ensuring that the core skills and assets of market research are retained and enhanced. The social side, AMSRS dinners are legendary, blending a great chance to meet people and simple, unadulterated fun. For me the key highlights were: WIRE – Women in Research. On the evening before the conference proper WIRE organised an event chaired by Erica van Lieven and […]

Front cover of Skills and Training Report

Market Research Skills and Training Study 2018 Report

Posted by Ray Poynter Sue York, 8 August 2018 Below is the Executive Summary of our Market Research Skills and Training Study 2018 Report. You can download the full report by clicking here. Executive Summary Market research is a knowledge-based industry, its key asset is people – software comes and goes, techniques evolve, but if the future of market research is to be secured, it will be on the strength of its people to add value, and importantly, to add value that non-researchers cannot. To ensure that value-added future, market research needs to develop its people, and a key part of that process in training, to build the competence of the people who make up the research industry. However, this report suggests that too little training is happening. The authors believe that if market research and the insights profession is to prosper in the upcoming world of big data, automation, and artificial intelligence, this must change, and we will outline some of the key steps needed to achieve that. This report is based on a study conducted globally in April to June 2018, with 1108 market researchers and insight professionals, and builds on our Market Research Knowledge Benchmarking Study 2017. […]

Image of Escher's Relativity

What can Market Researchers learn from Escher?

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Miracle of Escher exhibition at the Ueno Royal Museum. After the visit my mind turned to the lessons market researchers can draw from the works of MS Escher. 1) The first lesson is that humans see patterns, even when patterns are not really there Escher’s Belvedere creates a building that can’t actually exist. If you look at the man and the ladder, you will note that it sits across the narrow dimension on the bottom floor, but arrives at the wide aspect of the upper floor. Most researchers will have faced a situation when there is an error in the data, but their initial response is often to make sense of the data. They tend to see a pattern when one does not exist. 2) Stories can help identify problems By following a story through you can often see the fallacy of a false pattern. Taking the example of Belvedere, If we follow through the story of the man on the ladder we can see that he starts on the narrow side of the building but arrives on the wide side – a contradiction that should tell us […]

Sign with two directions

What is semiotics and how is it used?

At the most basic level, semiotics is the study of how meaning is made. We often hear that semiotics is the study of signs, but that is only true when we take a very broad view of what a sign is, i.e. anything that communicates a meaning beyond itself. For example, the word Rose is a sign that can signify the plant, and the plant (a red rose) can be a sign that signifies love or passion (or the England rugby team). At one level, we all interpret signs every day of our lives, we negotiate the signage of human interactions, purchases, work, travel etc. In most cases we do this successfully because we have learned how to decode and use the signs in our everyday lives. However, the ability to understand how other people interpret signs, how new signs might be interpreted, and the linkage between different signs is a specialised discipline, that of the semiotician. Where semiotics becomes useful to marketers, market researchers, and insight professionals is where we hope to change behaviour, which typically means either creating new signs, or changing the way that signs are interpreted. For example, a brand wants to launch a new breakfast […]