2014 Prediction: Mystic Nerds to Rock Convergent Data Streams

Posted by: Lara Berman
  • December 23, 2013

data crystal ball--BLOG version

Like mystics peering into a crystal-data ball, researchers guide companies’ futures, advising, “do this, not that, and you will prosper.” We are not alone in the prophecy business.

New Year prognostications swirl around news sites and blogs, like flurries in a snow globe (each author inevitably citing “whatever I’m working on” as the next big thing).  But rather than look out, perhaps we’d be wiser to look inward and predict for ourselves.  As the snowflakes settle, here’s the picture emerging before our eyes.

Data is data is data. Let’s use it ALL.

Many expect the death of traditional market research because of instant and near free social media data. Researchers offer warnings. Those who solely rely on social-media analytics instead of market research will regret it, predicted Dr. David Forbes this past week. Forbes explained that in social media environments, people construct images of themselves that are not based on reality, but on the way they want to be seen by others. They engage in signaling behavior to express an altered reality. “To mistake what consumers want us to think for what consumers actually think can prove a dangerous research course indeed,” he cautioned.

Yet ignoring the wealth of information social media expression provides also seems foolish. Let’s end the false tug-of-war between social media data and survey data; we can glean insights from both. Consumer feedback in all forms is truly a gift.

Of course, data appears more challenging these days primarily because we are drowning in it.  Common sense mandates us to use everything that helps. When we can link survey data to big data, use it! When social media adds texture and nuance to survey data and vice versa, go for it! Know the benefits. Know the trade-offs and biases. Know the synergies.  Triangulate.

The Age of Convergence, The Flood and The Renaissance

Channel convergence and platform proliferation mean the fire hose of data could get stronger. We must make sense of it all and, accordingly, we believe consultative models will adapt to address marketplace advances. Such trends will demand researchers improve and expand their skills. In the coming social science renaissance, psychologists, sociologists, economists and anthropologists will work alongside marketers, marketing scientists and data technicians to bring meaning to data. Research will expand to embrace their cumulative skill sets, allowing us to understand the “whats?” that lead us to ask the “whys?” and eventually illuminate the “so whats?”

Whether you see the future with a crystal ball or more modern tools, we predict 2014 will be an exciting year of change and opportunity. Oh yeah, and if you’re not mobile by now, we predict you’ll regret it.

Categories: Big Data, Marketing, so what?

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