CCTV camera

Researchers should be aware of the problems with observational data

Posted by Ray Poynter, 18 May, 2018 The world is shifting from asking questions to utilising observational data (mostly for very good reasons) and this is creating a new set of problems that researchers need to recognise and address. What is observational data? Observational data refers to information gathered without the subject of the research (for example an individual customer, patient, employee, etc.) having to be explicitly involved in recording what they are doing. For example, collecting data without people having to respond to a questionnaire, without having to take part in a depth interview, and without having to maintain a research diary. Most big data is observational data, for example, the transaction records from a bank, people’s viewing habits on a video streaming service, or posts in social media. But, observational data can also be small data (based on just a few people). For example, participant ethnographic methods, used to to study people in their everyday lives, collects observational data, that is clearly not ‘big data’. Observational data can be based on census or it can be based on sample. For example, a few years ago a leading mobile phone company was able to sell very detailed data about […]

Baker Street road sign

The dog that didn’t bark – a great way to find insight in information

Posted by Ray Poynter, 10 May 2018 In the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Adventure of Silver Blaze’ the key to finding the story (i.e. the person who committed the crime) is the curious incident of the dog in the night. When the horse (the Silver Blaze) was being stolen, the dog in the stable yard did not bark, and that was what was curious. This clue led Holmes to deduce that the theft was an inside job; conducted by somebody the dog already knew. Over the years, I have found the ‘dog that did not bark’ idea to be a useful tool when trying to find key messages and stories from a set of information. Thinking about what has not been said by research participants can be as revealing as what has been said. When analyzing the data, ask yourself what is not there? Consider the following examples: You read some references for a new employee, and they all stress team player, effort, innovative and cheerfulness. But none of the references address quality of work or accuracy – so perhaps the person’s work is not great – something you need to check. You look at a set of NPS data […]

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Do you understand what sort of Data Visualisation you need?

Over the past ten years, there has been a rapid and widespread growth in the use of data visualisation. However, this growth has resulted in wide diversity in the quality and usefulness of the visualisations being used. Visualisation helps if it meets the needs of the creator and audience, and for that to happen the needs must be clearly understood. This post looks at six different needs and maps them to different visualisation approaches. The key uses for visualisation are: To help find the story in the data, as part of the analysis process. To present a recommendation or interpretation. To explain/illustrate a concept or idea. To help other people explore information. Data as art. As an instruction or teaching aid. In the sections below, I will take each of these needs in turn and outline the implications for the sorts of visualisation you might want to use. Finding the Story When you are analysing data, looking for: patterns, meanings, and eventually the story, the key needs are: Speed You want to be able to move through lots of iterations to find the views that help you interpret the data. Flexibility In order to explore data you will play around […]

Training Survey 2018

A 2018 benchmark for training in the market research and insights industry

The NewMR survey closed on 31 May and the data is currently being processed. The future of the market research and insights industry is dependent on our ability to add value to data. The digital revolution (including the rise of passive data, automation, and more recently AI) means that data is plentiful and every month it becomes cheaper and ever more plentiful. If market research and insights are to prosper, it will be because we can add something that the machines can’t, for example, design skills, qualitative insights, presenting flair, storytelling, the ability to synthesise information, and the ability to act as consultants. However, if our future is based on adding value to data, in a knowledge-based economy, our key asset has to be our people, and developing that asset requires training. The 2017 NewMR Knowledge benchmarking study suggested that too many researchers, globally, were not getting the sort of support they needed to develop their skills. So, Sue York and Ray Poynter have launched a new study in 2018 looking to benchmark training. Once the data is collected we will write and distribute a report on our findings, along with our recommendations. When you have finished the survey you will be asked […]

Evette Cordy Book

Cultivating Curiosity by Evette Cordy, a book worth reading

To read the Japanese version of this post (from Mr Ryota Sano) click here. Posted by Ray Poynter, 19 April 2018 On the flight back from Australia to the UK, I read Evette Cordy’s new book Cultivating Curiosity: How to unearth your most valuable problem to inspire growth. I definitely recommend this book to anybody who wants to solve problems, help clients, grow their role at work, and/or get more stuff done. I do have some quibbles with a few of the observations and recommendations, but between the quibbles, there are large slabs of really useful pages, which provide a mix of broad philosophy and detailed suggestions for improving the way you work. The main thrust of the book (in my eyes) relates to the need to properly identify problems. For example, ensuring that you are actually tackling the main/underlying problem, that you have properly understood what is needed, and you have correctly assessed the context. The book identifies several problems, with the two key ones being: Starting the process by looking for solutions – which prevents time being spent on problem finding. Assuming things – for example assuming that we know what customers need, or that the solution has to […]

Alan Frost

Tribute to Alan Frost – a Market Research Pioneer

This article is by way of an acknowledgement of the pioneering work undertaken by Alan Frost in the field of market research. His work was undertaken before the days of the internet so we would like to take this opportunity to give Alan the recognition he deserves. This article has four authors, Ray Poynter, Elaine Bowyer, Michael Davis and Graham Croome (and special thanks to Graham for organising this tribute). Ray Poynter This article is to highlight and remember a great innovator, who because his time was before the internet, runs the risk of being unjustly forgotten. Alan Frost studied psychology at Liverpool University in the late 50’s and realised that the great leaps that were being made in psychology could be applied commercially in the rapidly expanding world of market research. From the outset Alan was an innovator, applying Kelly repertory grids, cluster analysis (accessing shared time on bureaux offering computer mainframe access), and gamification approaches to attribute elicitation. I started working with Alan Frost in 1978, when he became one of the first in the UK to buy and use an Apple II computer – I continued working with Alan until he retired due to ill heath in […]

Ray Poynter working in Cafe

The Difference Between Customer Focused and Customer Centricity?

To read the Japanese version of this post (from Mr Ryota Sano) click here. Posted by Ray Poynter, 6 April 2018 Last week I was asked about the difference between customer focused and customer centric. For many people, these two terms are almost interchangeable, but if you dig into the literature and advice there are some subtle but important differences. This post looks at the differences between customer focused and customer centricity – and identifies where customer centricity is taking centre stage. The trend in customer centricity, compared with customer focused, is illustrated by the data from Google Trends shown below. The key change to keep in mind is that markets have moved from product centricity to customer centricity. Companies used to focus on design, on manufacturing, and logistics. In the days when products and services could achieve a clear product/service difference that was clear, sustainable, and beneficial – a product-centric approach made sense. Today, we have informed consumers, competitive markets, and few tangible product/service benefits – which has resulted in the focus shifting to customers. So, what is the difference in customer centricity and customer focused, and why might you favour customer centricity? Here are my five key differences. 1 […]

Chart of device usage

Useful summary of mobile device usage in the USA

Posted by Ray Poynter, 3 April 2018 A recent Pew Report (Mobile Fact Sheet – 5 February, 2018) shared some great data on the devices the US population are using. The topline numbers show that by early 2018, 95% of the US population had a mobile phone, with nearly 80% of the population having a smartphone. The chart below was created by using data from two sections of the report and combining them (if you click on it you will see a larger version). Several key trends are clear and important. Mobile phones are ubiquitous – nearly everybody has one. Smartphones are really common, but over one-fifth of the population does NOT have one. The ownership and use of desktop/laptop computers has plateaued at about 70-75%. Tablets are still growing, and may overtake desktop/laptop computers soon. E-readers seem to be stuck at 20% of the population – and perhaps that will fall when the ones currently in use break? Digging into the data The report from Pew has some great nuggets relating to differences by groups. For example, smartphone ownership amongst the over 65 year olds is less than 50% (46%). Ownership of smartphones is over 90% for the under […]

Ben Blatt's book

Nabokov’s Favourite Word is Mauve – a book market researchers should read

To read the Japanese version of this post (from Mr Ryota Sano) click here. Post by Ray Poynter, 28 March 2018 Ben Blatt’s book, Nabokov’s Favourite Word Is Mauve is a good read, and a read I would recommend to any market researcher who wanted to widen his or her horizons in ways that challenged their ‘within-the-box thinking’. The book is, on the face of it, a quantitative review of different characteristics of literature. But do not panic, Blatt’s work does not reduce great literature to a set of soulless and unfeeling numbers. The success of the book is that it makes the reader think about authors like Hemingway and Austen, Rowling and Joyce in new and interesting ways. The book explores several characteristics of writing to provide additional perspectives on things we already know. For example, Blatt devotes his first chapter to exploring whether the advice to use adverbs sparingly is supported by success or otherwise of authors and books. In his analysis, he quickly homes in on ‘ly’ adverbs, such as ‘suddenly’ and ‘quickly’. He starts his analysis by looking at a list of successful authors and contrasting their use of adverbs, for example Ernest Hemmingway and Mark Twain […]

Photo of the book Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain

‘Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain’ – Book Review

Post by Ray Poynter, 12 March 2018 For anybody interested in the current hype around Bitcoin, blockchain and smart contracts, I would recommend reading David Gerard’s book ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain’ (many thanks to Richard Young for recommending the book to me). The book is a thorough deconstruction of the history, mythology, and outrageous over-claims of this popular new technology. The book provides a useful and timely counterpoint to all those making claims for the benefits of blockchain and its associated technologies. The book is short and very readable. The tone is clearly negative about blockchain and I would advise any reader to crosscheck the information they gather from the book (I have done that and so far everything I have checked has been confirmed.) Key items covered in the book are: How blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts work. This requires some technical understanding of the language of IT, but even without that you will get a sense of what is happening. The problems that cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin and Litecoin) have had with criminality, fraud, lack of security, volatility, and more recently with capacity. The reasons why smart contracts seem doomed for the foreseeable future, despite the […]