Data Day Job

This week David Ward gives us an insight into his world of data processing.

I thought this week I would take the opportunity of a Thursday Night Insight to talk about data processing at B2B International. It’s not something that often gets a lot of mention and I thought a few brief words wouldn’t go amiss.

To start with, I should say that I didn’t want to be involved in data processing when I left the University of Salford. Let’s just say it wasn’t my top career choice. I had my eyes set firmly on a career in coastal management. I wanted to design sea defenses and manage coastal erosion. If it wasn’t for the sums of money involved I would have gone to the University of Maryland where I’d been accepted onto a course to complete a Masters degree and, in time, a PhD. However, things don’t always turn out how we would like. From a job working in quality control of EPOS data, to analysis of CRM databases, I slowly made my way into market research and data processing. On the whole it’s been an enjoyable, challenging and, at times, quite an entertaining career.

In the eleven years or so that I’ve been in the data processing business, I’ve seen my role in processing the data collected in market research change and evolve. I suppose one of the key areas of change is the diversity of skills that are now required. I think to be successful in the world of data processing it isn’t enough to just focus on one key area now. I used to just focus on producing crosstabs of varying complexity. Then it was crosstabs, data entry and online surveys. Then crosstabs, data entry, online surveys and programming telephone interview scripts. Now at B2B International we have, for some time, been using Confirmit as our data collection tool and so I can now add online reporting into the mix.

I wonder if at some point there will come a time when all that is required of someone working in data processing can be provided in one package. Just like the mobile phone with its multiple functions, there seems to me to be a definite trend to try to accommodate all DP requirements in one place. With the likes of Confirmit, Voxco and Globalpark to name but a few, I believe we will get an all-encompassing data processing software package. However, we’re not there yet. These packages do some things very well, and others just about adequately. They are fine for running online survey and CATI projects but would I want to produce a set of complex tables using the same software? Currently I would have to say no; they don’t do everything well enough. I suspect it won’t be too long before I would answer yes. However, until I can answer yes to this question, data processing at B2B International will continue to utilise whatever combination of different but complementary tools we need to provide a first rate service for our researchers.

Data processing is something we at B2B International take very seriously. We invest in the tools we need to do the job well and we invest in the skills needed to get the most out of these tools. It’s an important piece of the market research pie and, as head of data processing, I get a lot of satisfaction in knowing that it’s service we can provide to the highest standards. So, whether you want to run a customer satisfactioncustomer satisfaction study, a segmentation study, a multi country or a multi wave tracking project, your data is in safe hands.

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