Q&A with Debrah Harding, Managing Director, Market Research Society

We caught up with Debrah Harding, Managing Director at Market Research Society, ahead of her participation at this year’s Audience Analytics & Insight Forum in a session that will look at the impact on both personal and research data 6 months on from GDPR.

AAI: Why is it that more data can lead to fewer insights?
DH: Big data does not mean good data – it just means big. With so much information available, we find ourselves in danger of getting lost in the numbers: data is only as good as the questions you ask of it. To gain real insight requires diving into data to determine why certain activities and behaviours are happening. This is where research and insight techniques are key – they unearth the why – leading to great insights which inspire businesses.

AAI: Where should analytic & insight teams sit within the business structure?
DH: Insight and analytics teams should be at the core of any business structure.

In insight driven organisations, insight drives growth, improves customer centricity and reduces business risk. Insight interprets and aggregates increasingly fragmented information coming from a rapidly evolving and expanding customer channels.

AAI: Why is it important to break down the silos between data teams and insight teams?
DH: To harness fully the intellectual capital derived from data and insight requires the best people, methodologies and techniques to work together to bring the maximum strategic benefit to any business. The best way to do this is to break down the silos and create horizontal structures which ensure that data and insight rests at the heart of any business.

AAI: As an industry are we losing the art of interpreting human motivation?
DH: Insight is not losing the art of interpreting human motivation. At its most effective insight acts as a filter, removing the static and noise of information, enabling businesses to focus on what’s important – the voice of the customer.

Market researchers are the bridge between data and its application, asking the right questions to provide actionable insight. It’s vital that we make big data, smart data.

AAI: GDPR should mean cleaner better data, has it?
DH: GDPR means that businesses have a greater awareness of their data, and a recognition that as well as being a huge business asset, data can also be a liability if not processed appropriately.

As businesses focus on reducing data risks in light of GDPR, increasing transparency and understanding about how data is used should result; with a re-balancing of the social data contract between businesses and their customers. In the long-term this should result in better, and hopefully more meaningful, data exchanges between businesses and their customers.

Skilled market research professionals have been handling sensitive data for decades and must remain at the forefront of best practice, helping businesses respect the people whose data they may hold.

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