This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here

FEATURE20 December 2013

2013 Review: The biggest disappointments

It’s an unavoidable fact of life: the more you hype something, the more likely it is to disappoint. And so it goes with big data, which was the single most frequently mentioned disappointment among our 2013 Review panel.

Let’s be clear here: nobody is saying that big data, in itself, is a letdown. Rather the disappointment is that, despite all the talk, the promise and the potential, the research industry has yet to fully get to grips with it.

“Everyone is talking about it and claims they are doing it, but no-one really knows what it is or what it means, and how to make sense of it,” said Hall & Partners global CEO Vanella Jackson. Added Jon Puleston, vice-president of innovation at GMI: “I’m yet to see anybody manage to get their heads around how to use it effectively.”

“In August, Gartner’s Hype Cycle showed big data ready to topple over into the ‘trough of disillusionment’. I’d say we’re there now”

This sentiment marries up with Gartner’s positioning of big data on its famed Hype Cycle. According to the IT market analyst, big data was – as of August – sitting atop the ‘peak of inflated expectations’, ready to topple over into the ‘trough of disillusionment’. I’d say we’re there now.

Graeme Lawrence, marketing director of Join the Dots, cited a lack of case studies, of practical examples of big data in action, as a key source of disillusionment. Curiously, though, we’re absolutely swamped with big data similes. This year we’ve encountered:

Big data is also like mobile research, because researchers were similarly disappointed by the continued slow uptake of mobile technology. GreenBook Blog editor Lenny Murphy said: “The continued resistance to mobile, on both the client and supplier side is baffling to me. The broader adoption of mobile device trends globally are undeniable and the implications are clear. It’s not a choice any longer: we simply must shift now because, in five years, the PC will be a niche business device and in 10 years it will be an antique.”

Neuromarketing earned a couple of mentions from our respondents, as did BlackBerry. As Brand Keys’ Robert Passikoff noted: “BlackBerry could have, but didn’t move to touch screens until absolutely forced to. Talk about hubris. They went from 50% marketshare to 2% – so ‘disappointing’ is being kind.”

Finally – sitting alongside big data on the Gartner Hype Cycle – was gamification, which earned a vote of disappointment from The Sound’s Stuart Knapman, who wrote: “I think a lot of people have realised that gamification is not actually the panacea for all their problems. Rubbish surveys are still rubbish surveys, even with Flash-based drag-and-drop exercises.

“In fact,” he said, “Flash-based rubbish surveys are more annoying, because they think they’ve nailed it – a bit like a delusional X Factor contestant.” 

Check back next week for the biggest success stories of 2013

7 Comments

5 years ago

One last simile for Big Data? "There is no there there:" big data is nothing magical just lots of data, and meaningless without insight or storytelling.

Like Report

5 years ago

This new Peugeot ad disappoints me and is reflective of an all-to-common perception of MR - why? 1. A crude, cheap shot at MR inferring that it is no use to product design 2. It is not a great ad - over-used and cliched themes, uninspiring imagery and a horrible voiceover (would have benefited from being researched...) 3. Cars shown bear no resemblance to what I consider to be reality of Peugeot We need a right to reply! http://www.youtube.com/user/theofficialPeugeotUK

Like Report

5 years ago

As with CRM years ago, the term "Big Data" means different things to different people, but to suggest that no-one understands it, or is using it effectively ignores the reality of what's being done with it (often successfully) outside of the world of Market Research. We often hear the question "Why isn't market research taken more seriously?". I think when people outside of our industry read articles or opinions like this it doesn't help our cause. I really believe that, unless we work out how to make use of the vast amount of passively collected, non-designed data out there, in conjunction with what we collect through traditional techniques, then we'll find ourselves becoming marginalised, and possibly obsolete.

Like Report

5 years ago

'In 5 years the PC will be a niche device and antique in 10.' I tell my friends still milking online sample sales to enjoy whilst they can, and get a career Plan B rolling. With a legitimate methodology.

Like Report

5 years ago

I think folks have forgotten that big data is being massively used by companies that do not align themselves with market RESEARCH. As part of a marketing company, I used to use big data (POS) to determine which consumers would be most likely to try and continue buying new products if given a coupon or trial product. Market research, yes. Labeled market research, no. We need to get our heads out of the clouds in terms of what we as market researchers are comfortable doing.

Like Report

5 years ago

Like other posters above, I think we need to be careful to make the distinction between big data use within MR (in which very little of substance seems to be happening), and big data applications more broadly (where there's a great deal going on, both for insight and other purposes).

Like Report

5 years ago

calling big data a disappointment is really a way of sigaling that one does NOT YET GET IT. Facebook, Twitter, Google are all ad platforms that are testimonial to the power and criticality of big data. RTB is big data. In terms of research, matching facebook advertising to frequent shopper data is big data. Nielsen's OCR is big data (matching ad serving to Facebook profiles to report on impression serving demographics. InsightExpress reading cookies in real time to route a survey is big data. Come on guys...let's understand it and succeed at it rather than poo-poo that which is outside one's comfort zone

Like Report