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Living in a Rapid Response World

How do researchers balance big data in a time-starved world to deliver timely insights? Find out below in the latest blog in the Big Ideas Series on rapid response research.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Rick West will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 12-14 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.“ – Steve Jobs

Intuitively, we all know time is our most valuable resource. We often joke we never have enough of it and in the same breath wonder if time will ever pass so we can get to the next thing.

This truth has taken on new meaning in our big data, time-starved world. Not only do we have access to more data than ever, it seems we have even less time to process it. Business opportunities don’t wait for us to make sense of all the information before moving on.

At times I feel like Colonel Stinger in this famous scene from Top Gun, when he asked for the jet-ramp status [in the heat of the MIG battle] and was told:

Officer: Both catapults are broken, sir.
Stinger: How long will it take?
Officer: It’ll take ten minutes.
Stinger: Bull%$&@ ten minutes! This thing will be over in two minutes! Get on it!

We’ve all been there—times we had to deliver something on an unrealistic deadline. Fail to meet the allotted time frame, and the request is no longer relevant.  

Remember that time your customer questioned what a competitor was doing and you couldn’t get the answer until the next day or week, but that was too late?

We have also all experienced our general manager sharing an opinion from a “focus group of one” (i.e., his or her spouse) and you had no data to confirm or question their assumption in the meeting, so they left assuming they must be right.

These are instances when speed mattered and time was not on your side; you had to deliver data, information, and, yes, insights in near real-time.

In my world, we call this “rapid response research.”

I will be sharing more on this during my session at IIeX North America, but here are a few talking points to pique your interest:

1. Too Little Too Late

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”
William Shakespeare

Big Data suggests you can consistently capture data and develop a stream of random information that, when processed, delivers insights to the end user. But what if there was a way to turn on a data stream of insights—not just data or information—more closely aligned to your clients’ needs? What if this data stream could be at your fingertips, yet customized to reflect insights from your client’s core consumers, such as moms with infants or 18-28 year old gamers?

The good news: It’s not only possible, but also practical.

2. Shelf Life

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.“
Bruce Lee

In today’s world, change occurs at a rapid pace. When you look at retail execution or in-home product usage, the rate of change is simply breathtaking.  

So what if you could spend more time analyzing data and less time determining how to get it? When the need for real-time data arises, you should be able to ask a simple question—and actually get a response—before the need for the answer disappears. Today, that time frame is often less than 24 hours and, sometimes, no longer than the length of a conference call.

3. Luck

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Roman Philosopher Seneca

This was the mantra of my high school football coach, and I use it almost every day with my team.

Staying relevant is hard enough. Being relevant at the right time is being “lucky.” So to be lucky, we must have data at our fingertips so we can be the experts when we are needed, as opposed to missing an opportunity because we need to hunt for data.

Remember, getting credit for a lucky shot only counts when you make them…

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