iCharts Whitepaper - Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting


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iCharts Whitepaper - Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting

  1. 1. Chief MarketingOfficer, iCharts
  2. 2. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better InsightsTechnology innovations have made conducting a survey (and data collection) simplerand more efficient than ever before. However, these innovations have not done nearlyas much to enhance another equally important step - gaining insights from thesurveys. Discovering insights from survey research is riddled with inefficiency—in manycases survey data must be transferred between multiple platforms and handled bymany different people in both internal and external business units to unlock the insightscontained in the data. This convoluted process means that there is a long interval betweenwhen data is collected and when insights are communicated to inform business decisions.This paper will highlight the need for accelerated innovation in this space and propose anew model to expedite the analysis and processing of survey data into timely insights thatsupport critical business decisions.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 2 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  3. 3. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights The data deluge in the connected world The need for innovation in data analysis Conclusions© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 3 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  4. 4. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights In a Harvard Business Review article Nick Wreden said “Done right, surveys can reduce new product risk; generate insights about employees, customers, and markets; and align communications programs with target constituencies. But done poorly, they can derail your organization.” At the speed we are moving, Wreden’s quote could do with a little addition—an element of “speed” into the mix. We need surveys done right and we want them done FAST! This is where we have a problem and an opportunity—both. In a Wall Street Journal article on data deluge1 Robert Lee Hotz looks at how historians are struggling to keep data in context and alive for the future generations. Hotz writes, “Usually, historians are hard-pressed to find any original source material about those who have shaped our civilization. In the Internet era, scholars of science might have too much. Never have so many people generated so much digital data or been able to lose so much of it so quickly, experts at the San Diego Supercomputer Center say. Computer users world-wide generate enough digital data every 15 minutes to fill the U.S. Library of Congress. In fact, more technical data have been collected in the past year alone than in all previous years since science began, says Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Alexander Szalay, an authority on large data sets and their impact on science. “The data is doubling every year,” Dr. Szalay says.” Given this massive amount of data being made available today, it is inevitable that scientists are furiously creating tools to collect, archive, and make available data sets in flexible sizes. 1 A Data Deluge Swamps Science Historians (http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJPUB:SB125139942345664387.html)© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 4 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  5. 5. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights We live in a world where people consume and are in turn consumed by social media. There are hundreds of social media outlets on the Web where people exchange ideas on every topic imaginable. This deluge of free and low cost social media data holds a lot of promise for market analysts. Social media has the potential to provide: 1. Variety in Recruiting: Every social network where your target audience is engaged is a potential recruitment outlet. The amazing variety social networks provide offer a whole new range of opportunities to reach out and engage with key audiences. 2. Richer Panels: People reveal a lot of information through social networks. Panels that have some level of integration with social networks are richer than others that don’t. 3. Finer Segmentation: Because social media networks could offer a treasure trove of detailed information about your target audience, they also present the opportunity to segment that audience in new, more precise ways. For instance, it is possible to dig into Facebook and find people who are atheists, married, living in California with two or more children, and interested in hiking.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 5 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  6. 6. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights 1. Collect Survey Responses Most survey software programs give you tools to monitor and manage the data collection process during a flexible data collection period. 2. Set up the Data File Format There are many data formats, and survey research data has particularities that make it unique. The data file should contain input from each respondent as well as meta-data about the questionnaire and the overall study. The data file may also contain appended data to be used in the analysis. 3. Process Survey Response Data Once the survey data have been collected, the file must be “scrubbed” to remove useless responses or ‘junk’ answers. Once this is done, research teams may have to recode or transform existing variables and create additional variables for more sophisticated analysis. Typically crosstab tables, sometimes called banner tables or simply banners, are created and either exported to Excel or printed on paper. This process can take anywhere between a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the survey. 4. Generate Insight Representations People process information best in visual representations. Decision makers and stake holders expect survey data to be presented in a visual format and this requires the creating a series of charts. In some cases every question© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 6 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  7. 7. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights in the survey is transformed into charts, along with any variations created by filtering and cross-tabbing, as well as “mashup” variables created by combining and recoding multiple variables. Alternately, a subset of survey results can be used to create charts that tell a data “story.” In either case, this step adds additional expensive processing time to the survey-processing step. 5. Distribute Charts to Stakeholders The last step in the process is to package and distribute the charts to key stake-holders and decision makers so that the business value of the data can be applied to business problems. Generally, suveys are packaged in a PowerPoint presentations or PDF files and shipped out to the decision makers. The process of survey processing to insight development takes anywhere from a 160 hours to many months, as the process depends on people who process information, the tools available to represent the data sets, and clients who will require further insights from every presentation.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 7 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  8. 8. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights The market research industry has evolved and taken advantage of a number of recent technology innovations in the data collection portion of the process. However, gaps (and opportunities to innovate) exist when it comes to interpreting the information and generating insights. As one industry executive recently quipped, “Our reports are the same as they were twenty years ago. There has been NO innovation in the way we interpret survey data and inform clients of survey results.” Here are seven reasons why there is a dire need for innovation: The first reason is speed. Businesses need to make decisions fast. Many survey clients ask for early access to business data because the business value of the information is often immediate and having to wait weeks for survey data is unacceptable. Ideally, businesses would like to see survey results within days or even hours of survey data collection. New technology is available makes data interpretation simpler for analysts and delivers reports in a wide variety of formats. Really, with today’s technology we should be able to process and generate reports and charts in a matter of hours. The second reason is flexibility. The current reports are typically packaged in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. What decision makers would love are reports that they can interact with - reports that they can “play around with” - drilling down, testing hypotheses and testing scenarios on the fly. Flexible, interactive tools that allow survey users to ask and answer questions about survey data offers the power to completely transform the relationship between market research companies and their clients because it allows business users to ask “what if” questions and receive the relevant answers immediately.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 8 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  9. 9. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights The third reason is access. If the reports are produced online, they are available anywhere and everywhere there is Internet access. Decision makers don’t need to be tied to a computer to access the reports. Increasingly, delivery of data insights via mobile device (smartphone and tablet computer) will be paramount. The point about access is that it should be simple for non-technology users to get the most out of this information. Business users are increasingly mobile but survey reports are often packaged in formats that are inaccessible by mobile devices. Survey insights designed for portability can be consumed on smart phones and tablet computers make it possible for business users to extract maximum value from survey data anytime and anywhere. The fourth reason is enabling self-service. End users need more control and options on how they access the reports. A Powerpoint report limits the options for self-service. The fifth reason is need for better organization. Reports need to be available in consumers’ fingertips when and where they need them. A simple portal where all the reports are available (with appropriate access controls) will be a huge step forward in being organized. The sixth and reason is enabling discovery. In the current model, the decision makers have to rely on what has been presented, as there is zero interactivity on the charts. If the charts were interactive, then they would have the opportunity to “discover” insights as they start interacting with the charts. A “discovery” can happen when an action as simple as slicing the data in some way or just adding/ removing a certain criterion on the chart. In the same way the technology provides the opportunity for business users to delve more deeply into survey data, it also offers the potential to act as a filter. In traditional static report formats, business users have to read through the entire report to find answers to specific questions.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 9 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  10. 10. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights Users that are interested in a few specific data points relevant to their particular role or expertise experience will find a lengthy survey report, no matter how carefully packaged, to be noise. Technology designed to help users hone in on the data most pertinent to their needs saves business users valuable time and helps make survey data more relevant. The seventh reason is higher efficiency. This is specifically useful in case of tracking studies where we are repeating the same survey in regular intervals. There should be no requirement to re-generate reports every single time the underlying data change. The process should be as simple as clicking a button to update the existing reports with a new set of data and saving it as a new report. Technology is no longer a barrier. All it takes is applying available technologies and innovations and putting them into practice. The application of new technology to the second half data interpretation and reporting portion of the survey process is holds the potential to profoundly change the way market research is delivered. We know that innovations will continue to happen in the market research business. Assuming that is the case, we are now looking at innovations in “interpreting that information to generate insights.” This means focusing on new models for report generation. Following are the broad steps in the proposed reporting model. 1. Automate Visual Reports: You can use a cloud-based reporting studio to create as many reports as you want. If the reporting studio employs a wizard-driven approach to creating interactive charts and reports, even non-technical users can participate in the report creation process. With a cloud-based charting and report creation tool, there is enough room© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 10 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  11. 11. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights for automation to generate the standard and crosstab charts. More sophisticated charts may have to be manually designed and created. 2. Publish to a Portal: Once you create these visual and interactive reports, you could publish them to a password-protected portal where your clients can access these charts from any browser. Unlike a PowerPoint report, your clients can pick and choose the report (chart) that they are interested in. And also unlike a PowerPoint report, changes in the underlying data will be reflected in the charts automatically. 3. Update Reports Automatically with New Data: The reports you create should be setup in such a manner that when the underlying data changes, they should be automatically updated to reflect it. This will ensure that the charts are current all the time. This is specially useful in cases where survey responses come in waves (state-wide for example) and in tracking studies. 1. Quick Turnaround Time: Since 80% of the tasks can be automated, the report creation is far quicker than the traditional model. This is precisely what businesses are looking for. They want insights NOW. 2. Faster and Early Access: You and your clients have early access to the survey insights. There is no need to wait for a LONG time to start seeing the trends. 3. Higher Quality: As you are digesting the reports from availability because of early access capability, you have some time on your hand to engage in deeper analysis to produce better insights. 4. Higher Flexibility: Visually interactive reports provide a lot more flexibility than static reports. Just the self-service option of being able to filter and drill down on data that is of interest to your need alone is worth the investment in the new set of tools.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 11 www.ichartsbusiness.com
  12. 12. Innovations in Post-Survey Reporting Models to Enable Better Insights 5. More power to the business users: With the new reporting model, business users can get more from the research by utilizing all the interactive visual reports. You don’t need to wait for weeks to get those insights from the surveys that you designed and administered. While it may not be feasible to shave off time from the survey administration process (there is an external dependency there - people have to participate in the surveys) there is a plenty of room for improvement in the way we process the survey data. The time has come for innovations in the area of converting information to insights. iCharts is a web-services company that makes information visualization, publishing and distribution simple. iCharts serves market research firms, syndicated research firms, information publishers & online media, corporations, associations, government statistics departments and institutes, investor relations services and everyone that would like to increase the visibility and proliferation of their data on the Internet.© 2010, iCharts Inc., All Rights Reserved. 12 www.ichartsbusiness.com