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OPINION20 March 2012

Research fusion: The challenges of dealing with ‘big data’

“Big data is the single biggest disruptive change that is going to happen to this industry in the next few years,” said Vision Critical’s executive vice president Ray Poynter, speaking during the Research Fusion session at MRS Conference.

“Big data is the single biggest disruptive change that is going to happen to this industry in the next few years,” said Vision Critical’s executive vice president Ray Poynter, speaking during the Research Fusion session at MRS Conference.

Poynter observes that social media and other advancements provide big pools of data for analysis, and the communities which are polled for data will grow to several hundreds of thousands of members.

Surveying communities of this size will require a change to how research is carried out and who it is done by. “The moderator of the communities of the future will be a bot”, says Poynter.

Research Now’s director of strategy and knowledge Johnny Caldwell thinks that the challenge for research companies is making sense of vast amounts of data “which is already out there”, thanks to social media.

He advocates persuading people to download tracking apps, “so we can follow them, measure their social media usage and we know who they are”.

But is there a risk that having a tracking app installed on a phone or PC will alter the user’s behaviour? In Caldwell’s experience, “after about 2 weeks people revert to their normal behaviour – like a focus group where people soon forget there are clients watching”.

Guest post by Alastair Heggie

@RESEARCH LIVE

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