Many marketers cringe when faced with the overwhelming task of sifting through ‘Big Data’, but as technology grows it is becoming easier and easier to sift through the enormous amounts of information and process it into something both innovative and substantial. In Survey Research, the vast amount of information stored provides unlimited opportunities into understanding consumers in a much different context than traditional analytics.
Before you begin taking down the giant, it is important to understand what makes up these complex databases and how you can tame them to give you the information you need.
What exactly is ‘Big Data’?
In its simplest form, ‘Big Data’ is a buzz word that describes a collection of data that is so large, it is difficult to process or analyze using traditional data processing applications.
The data can consist of petabytes or even exabytes of information sourced from social media, mobile phone analytics, call centers, web searches, online shopping, and geotagging data.
Generally there is little to no organization in these collections, which is why industry professionals who are accustomed to clear and concise data have a hard time jumping in.
Why is ‘Big Data’ important for Survey Research?
While you can certainly learn a lot about a consumer through online panels and survey research, ‘Big Data’ can provide new avenues of information for your research that can’t be asked on a questionnaire.
While you can ask questions such as ‘In which city do you live?’ you get little insight into the neighborhood, popular hangouts, and daily life of that person.
By implementing tools such as Facebook integration, once the consumers give you permission to see their data you have access to more behavioral and social algorithms than you could have ever achieved in 20 minutes.
Multiply this by hundreds, thousands, even millions of respondents and you suddenly have potentially transformative information about typical consumers.
How is ‘Big Data’ best managed?
As more and more people realize what an unlimited source of data can provide them with, the IT world is scrambling to create data sorting software that will meet the demand.
Syncsort is one such product that has taken the market research world by storm. This program scans, sorts, collects, and processes data- turning millions of seemingly impossible to analyze snipits into real-time insight. It may be a smart option to contact an external data expert who can teach you how to use different data metrics and help you find the best tools for your needs.
‘Big Data’ may very well be a so-called buzz word, but you will likely see it transform into its own entity in the very near future.
As programs become more advanced, the sorting and data processing tasks will become easier and simpler – essentially giving a world of information to anyone who is smart enough to reach for it.
At this point, the question is no longer should you or shouldn’t you, it is what is the best way to go about it and where do I start.
Jessica Galbraith is a writer, blogger, and social media aficionado.