Nut and bolt

Why should I use international standards?

The post below is a guest post from Will Poynter, lead engineer at CLOSER Discovery, based in the UK. Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. – Douglas Adams And now data is big too. Lots of you will have heard, or read, that in the past two years we have created more data than all previous years combined. And there appears to be no indication or reason to think that this rate of growth is going to slow down anytime soon. In a previous post, I shared my thoughts on the big data issue, and why, in order to correctly utilize the new quantity of data, we need new tools and infrastructure. But currently, there is a huge impediment in the way of achieving these new tools and infrastructure. Most data is not held using international standards. Let me jump back a little. I am an alumnus of the University of Manchester, where an impressive number of buildings, roads and parks are named after Joseph Whitworth. Whitworth was a pivotal figure, during the 19th century, for his creation of a set of standards covering screws, nuts, bolts and tools. This may […]

Image depicting Agile

What is Agile Market Research?

One of the hottest terms in market research at the moment is the word ‘Agile’. However, there is not a lot of clarity about what exactly it means and how it should best be utilised. Two definitions, with Two Different Derivations One of the reasons that there can be confusion around the term agile market research is that there are two separate definitions, based on two different perspectives and derivations. Agile, as in responsive, a term that has been used in research for many years. Agile, as in the Agile Movement, a modern method of project management often identified with the software industry and concepts like minimum viable product, sprints, and scrums. In this post, I am going to use agile with a lower case ‘a’ for the first of these meanings, and Agile with an upper case ‘A’ when referring to the adoption of the Agile Movement approach to market research. Responsive Research is Often Bespoke Research Using the word agile in its more traditional way, it is often used to describe research that is flexible in the sense of being designed specifically for the needs of a client/project. Whilst this form of research typically needed to move fast, […]

Image representing open data

Open data, what does it mean and why do we need it?

The post below is a guest post from Will Poynter, lead engineer at CLOSER Discovery, based in the UK. There is a common misconception that open data means making data public. This is one, very narrow, way of opening up data. What is open data? I prefer to refer to opening up data, an action, rather than open data, a noun. This is because open data suggests an absolute state, while openness is relative to the environment and user. I.e. data is not either open or not, it exists along a spectrum depending who you are, what you would like to do with the data and where we are in the timeline of the data. Before we get too abstract let me set out an example. Let’s use a teacher’s notebook. This notebook contains everything for our teacher, including comments on pupils, marking, ideas for lesson plans and personal notes. Currently our teacher keeps this notebook to himself and shares it with no one; definitely not open data. Now suppose our teacher would like to begin opening up the data inside his notebook so that he can share ideas for lesson plans with all the teachers in the school. Even though […]

Big Data

Big data, what is it and will it be here to stay?

The post below is a guest post from Will Poynter, lead engineer at CLOSER Discovery, based in the UK. Although the term “big data” has been in use since the 1990s, it has gained popularity massively over the last 5 years. Technological terms come in and out of fashion all of the time, e.g. we still have websites, but we do not call them the ‘World Wide Web’ anymore. We also see terminology evolve over time, e.g. ‘social network’ has been replaced by ‘social media’. So, why has “big data” become common parlance, and will it be fleeting or is it going to stay? Well, big data has been used to describe datasets of all shapes and sizes. But the key theme is datasets too large to be handled using conventional methods. Either the dataset has become too large to either be collected, analysed or managed efficiently, or a combination of all three. Therefore, big data indicates the need for new tools and methods for handling large quantities of data. One key area that generates “big data” is passively collected data. E.g. accelerometers. Accelerometers are being used to collect very useful information about; how active a person is, how much they […]

Picture of Chicago

Should Ambitious Market Research Companies Adopt the American Way?

Market Research is becoming more and more USA dominated. The ESOMAR revenue figures for market research show that in 2006 the USA accounted for 34% of all market research. By 2015, the USA accounted for 45%. By contrast, many other key countries have declined in terms of their share of the global total: France from 8% to 5%, Germany from 8% to 7%, Japan from 5% to 4%, and Brazil from 2% to 1%. Does this shift, from the rest of the world to the USA, indicate that the USA model is better? Should aspiring research companies, ones that want to expand internationally, become more like USA companies? In my opinion, there is some merit in the benefits of the USA model, but (as I will explain in this post), I think there are also benefits in what is sometimes called the ‘mid-Atlantic model’ – something that lives part way between Europe and North America. Why has the USA done so well? First, let’s look at why the USA has grown so strongly, in terms of market research. Key reasons include: The USA economy has grown, which facilitates growth in MR. The dollar has gone up in value – making […]