In the final session of last’s week MRMW Conference chair Lenny Murphy asked me to share my three takeaways from the conference. Here is more or less what I told him.
First, if you are in the data collection business find a new business. It’s clear that the sheer amount of data available is going to keep expanding exponentially. Their quality may not be great either as a basis for decision making or as measured by traditional MR standards, but if online and social media have taught us nothing else it’s that clients sooner or later will buy cheap data over good data every time. The value for MR will be where it always should have been: filtering, analyzing and helping clients put it to work.
Second, it’s time to put some bounds around how we use those data. At the top of this list is privacy. The fastest way to slay the golden goose is to abuse the owners of all those data. There is certain cluelessness on this issue in some of what I see presented at this and other conferences. One thing that will not change is our reliance on people—the public—to make our methods work.
Third, clients need to become smarter consumers. To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, they need to be able to tell the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad. There is a lot of hand waving about what some of these new methods do and why what they eventually tell us has value, but precious little proof that that’s the case. So clients will need to dig deeper and demand more.
On the ride home a fourth occurred to me. Could it be that in the era of big data we all will become qualis? Think about it.