Single Studies Produce Data, Not Insights

Why do we do this?

The tendency to treat the results of a single study as a satisfactory answer to a research problem has multiple roots. They include a history where primary research was often the only data source, a need for speed, silos within organizations, and a heritage of having worked on the supplier side — where money is made by doing one-off surveys or focus groups.

Big data can be blinkered too

This isn’t just a problem with surveys. It is the same with any single dataset — including big data. “I think we’ve all gotten a little bit mesmerized,” says Howard Shimmel. “Big data and first-party data is great, but it does provide a limited view of the world. I think we’ve got to do a better job of integrating survey data, panel data, first-party data, and being clear about how it all comes together to provide a solution.”

Don’t speculate, triangulate

There is danger in having a blinkered approach, and great value in thinking about a business problem contextually. “I can see a data point, and we can have 1,000,001 different perspectives on what that means to the business, but ultimately it means nothing,” according to Visa’s Kristopher Sauriol. “It’s just pure speculation unless we have additional data or knowledge.”



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