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A Fusion of Thick and Thin Data

ESOMAR will host a conference to explore the latest thinking in qualitative and the latest thinking in big data.

It seems only a few years ago that the emergence of big data and analytics was considered by some to be the primary underlying threat to the research industry. Well, the data sets are indeed huge and technological development means that our purchases, movements and social media messages are part of someone’s database. The ability to interrogate such data correctly can be incredibly useful for style recommendations, personalisation, improvements to our tech services and guidance for key business decisions.

However, these days, big data can sometimes seems adrift, floating all around us, untethered by context. The problem is that while big data is big, it can also be thin. It hasn’t been the silver bullet that some commentators expected. We have discovered that when it is combined with other methods, qualitative research in particular – or “thick” data if you will, then you can really start building insights and informing better decisions.

Big brands have recognised this. For example, Netflix combined their big data on customer viewing habits (who was watching, when, and what) with ethnographic studies to better understand the viewing habits of subscribers (why they were watching, what needs they had and how they were delivered against), which gave direction to strategy. In this way, they have been able to leverage the modern viewing phenomena of binge-watching to great success.

So, it makes sense to create an insight conference that both allows us to explore the latest thinking in qualitative and the latest thinking in big data; to bring the two together to see what dynamic new approaches emerge when the two worlds collide.

This is the idea behind ESOMAR Fusion, which is being run this year for the first time in Dublin, Ireland. This new conference brings together the deep human understanding of qualitative with the AI and analytics from the world of big data.

The event is structured in two halves but with the idea that the content and attendees overlap. Thus, the first two days are more focused on the big data element while the second two days dive deep into the qualitative world. Whether you are a data scientist, a qualitative specialist or a researcher who works with all types of data, you can book one, two, three or all four days, making it really cost effective.

The line-up of senior and high-profile researchers from companies like Google, Facebook, Intel, Tata, MARS, Beiersdorf and Delta Airlines means that you will hear new thinking from an exciting variety of global organisations. Not only this, but you will meet people and hear ideas from a diverse range of places and cultures, including Colombia, Pakistan, Singapore and India as well as talent from the US, the UK, and Northern Europe. So, if you want to expand your horizons in one week, it’s an excellent place to start.

Finally, now is exactly the right time to visit Dublin, a city that has transformed itself in recent years. It’s a great opportunity for all of us (the Irish diaspora included!) to discover the cool ‘silicon’ Dublin and find out the impact of hosting the international headquarters of leading players like Airbnb, Twitter and LinkedIn. Plus of course, there’s the Guinness!

It is clear that the best insight comes from combining big data and qualitative research, from fusing ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ data. To drive the best decision making you need to get the big picture – so come and learn how to get the best from both.

Follow this link to the ESOMAR page to register for the event.

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