With technology changing the amount of data we now have access to and the speed at which we conduct business, we sometimes forget to consider how our people and the needs of our organizations are evolving along with it. Marketing research, in particular, is an area where data—and increased volumes of it—has some of the greatest impact.
As a result, at GutCheck, we’ve adjusted our approach accordingly to include the people that are most essential to a data-driven world. Below are three of the key roles many organizations, including ours, count on to transform data into a strategic advantage. Each of the roles we mention makes it possible to truly understand consumers and organizations. There is a need for researchers to use tried-and-true methods and ask the difficult questions to uncover the “why.” There is a need for the analyst to recognize patterns in data to determine the “what.” And then there’s the data scientist who can uncover new tools and methods to accelerate the entire process and bring everything together into one seamless operation.
Marketing Researchers: From Traditional to Digital
The sole purpose of a researcher is to gather more information about a person, place, or thing through the use of experimentation, observation, and investigation. More than anything, researchers are always looking to understand why consumers feel or behave a certain way. But with each new data set and technological innovation, the role of the marketing researcher has subsequently progressed.
How did this shift begin? As we have increased our levels of sophistication as a society, the role of marketing research has continued to mature with it. Like most things these days, we go back to the profound impact of technology. It started with the computer and internet access both allowing for the birth of digital methods of marketing research. For example, we now have the ability to program complex algorithms and use unique platforms that allow users to interact with data and present information in more visual ways.
Market Analysts: The Organizational Researchers
In just the past 10 years, data has become a much more complex being. At first, we didn’t have enough of it, and now we arguably have too much. But regardless of the volume or variety of data, its veracity has always been in question.
Market analysts are thus responsible for analyzing more robust sets of data and are needed to properly leverage data to support their organizations in making better decisions. They work as translators who take complex series of numbers and convert them into a simple language to give insight into the story behind the data. While this role may not seem new, it’s definitely noteworthy: It’s expected to grow 23% by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Whether working internally in organizations or alongside marketing researchers, market analysts are necessary support systems. Without them, businesses can be left with numbers that aren’t actionable and therefore can’t add value. Analysts translate large amounts of data into tangible insights and tie those insights back to business problems that address consumer needs. Therefore, they’re not only understanding organizational insights but often providing the spark for audience questions.
The amount of data we have available at our fingertips is still exploding. The computer and the internet are to blame, yet their exponential rise to power has been enabled through modern approaches to connecting and harnessing new types of technology and data. The Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence now come into play. These are the superchargers for the data engines that are informing decisions faster than we ever thought possible. But we can’t ignore the vital role people play in finding meaning within the data provided by such technology.
Data Scientists: Research Innovators
According to many, this new frontier of research is ruled by the data scientist. In fact, this role has grown by over 650% since 2012, and it’s not slowing down. According to LinkedIn, it’s the second-fastest growing job in the U.S., second only to machine learning.
The data scientist is a uniquely qualified individual who is both part researcher (seeking to understand human behavior), part analyst (seeking to comb through the data until it tells a story), and part technologist (using programming to extract and transform data). Data scientists are able to fuse their broad expertise to collect, analyze, and interpret meaning from not only large but disparate sets of data.
Data scientists are now fundamental components to identifying and building the data engines that market analysts can use in collaboration with not only them, but marketing researchers as well. Respectively, they add to the effort to understand consumers by applying their unique ability to recognize new methods and types of data that are required to build deeper consumer understanding.
Consumer-driven organizations like Netflix and Amazon have been leveraging data scientists for years. With their help, these companies have used their vast banks of media consumption and behavioral data in order to build a better understanding of consumer preferences. So it’s clear why all the talk these days from industry leaders has been focused on the rise of the data scientist. If we are to believe the hype, we would presume that the data scientist is the panacea to all of an organization’s future needs.
These roles were created based on the need for unique sets of skills that build upon and add different approaches to understanding evolving audiences. Ultimately, it is the combination of these people, all of whom find meaning in various forms of data, that gives us the ability to build a deeper consumer or audience understanding. And when you have a more complete audience picture—especially at the individual level—you have the power to apply insights that make your activities and strategies that much more effective.
We’re currently hiring as we continue to build out the right team for our organization. Check out our careers page and you’ll also see some of the perks we offer here at GutCheck.