Analytics can Help Ensure that SMEs no Longer Remain SMEs

Mar 1, 2013 10:00:00 AM

"Sandeep Arora, global head of research and analytics, and Datamatics and Ashwin Mittal – president, Blueocean and Cross-Tab, share their insights on what data analytics holds in store for SMEs and developers" – Hiren Mehta

Mumbai, March 1, 2013:
(1) How research & data analytics is changing the thought process globally?

SA: Analytics is nothing but empowerment. By making use of analytics, people can be in more control while making decisions. Users can simulate different scenarios and gather useful intelligence. New technologies are now available with people that can empower them to do more. But you need to be very clear on what kind of analysis you intend to do.

AM: Market research was the conventional way of gathering insight on consumers through measuring their attitudes. Now with the advent of technology, we are in the middle of a data revolution. Vast data is being generated as activities of individuals can be tracked and measured through various mediums. Analytics on this data provides insights on consumer behaviour. Our philosophy is that one needs to combine results from both market research (attitudes) and data analytics (behaviours). Most client and vendor organizations tend to look at these two areas in silos. Our objective is to bring them together to offer holistic insights to our clients.

(2) How research is helping towards better business growth?
SA: Analytics is a big leveller. Making use of analytics, SMEs will be able to compete with the biggies.

AM: The business environment is one of increasing competition. In this scenario the importance of market insight through research is more than ever before. Market research supports decision making in the entire marketing life cycle including product design, pricing, advertising testing, branding and customer service.

(3) Many SMEs still process information without digitization, by relying on manual book-keeping, hand-written records! 
SA: When it comes to analytics, you need to consider the division of data into structured data and unstructured data. Within unstructured data, you further have to consider digitized data and undigitized data. Technologies are available for digitizing data for use by automated processing. SMEs must realize that sooner or later they will need to use digitized data which is essential to ensure that they no longer remain SMEs and are able to expand their scale. There is a need for people who are not well to do with technology to be able to make better informed decisions and this is where use of analytics can help. For instance, Obama's win in the US presidential elections was predicted by analytics.

AM: It is challenging to deploy analytics where data is not available in a digital format. If it can be digitized through scanning or data entry then there are technologies available that can analyse structured and unstructured data.

(4) What are the applications of mobile technology in market research?
SA: Apps in mobile technology help to overcome the huge barrier of geography. Location no longer becomes an issue in data collection. Mobile technology is also very useful to connect different stakeholders.

AM: There are two main applications of mobile technology in research:

  • Surveys through mobile - with the high penetration of smart phones, researchers can deploy engaging and versatile surveys through the mobile medium. Mobile enables researchers to access a much wider group of respondents, especially in developing markets while mobile penetration is higher than online. Mobile research can be very useful for quick turnaround research, e.g. day after recall
  • Mobile metering - with substantial growth of the mobile medium many companies want to understand the behaviour of the consumer on the mobile. One can use mobile metering (downloading an application onto an individual's mobile phone) to track usage of the mobile device across a panel of users and create reports on trends and behaviours that can be valuable to mobile operators, device manufacturers, media companies, mobile advertisers etc.

(5) Given the dynamics of the research & analytics industry, what does this mean for developers building such analytics' applications? What additional skill sets are required now?
SA: Developers earlier used to be associated with just coding. But with analytics, modules are developed which lead to inventories of reusable components. A new role called as `Data scientist' is coming up in this field.

AM: Analytics is a multidisciplinary domain. One needs to combine technology skills with statistical techniques and overlay it with business context to be able to provide relevant insights. This is why the skills are difficult to acquire. This is spawning a new breed of professionals called "data scientists". It is our endeavour to have the best data scientists in the industry.

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