A Casual Conversation on Blending Little & Big Data

A few years ago, the insights industry couldn’t get enough of Big Data. All discussions and innovation efforts went towards figuring out how to get even more Big Data and how to enhance its power within stakeholder organisations — this was mostly based on the stakeholder belief that more data will always lead to more insights, and so that is what they were asking of us for so long.

But in actuality, insight experts are now educating stakeholders and are working towards helping them understand that little data has just as much of a place in stakeholder decision-making as big data, especially when those two types of data are blended in the right way.

Blending big and little data can be tricky for those who don’t understand the potential power these two data types have by themselves and together, so this is what we have decided to focus on in this Casual Conversation video. Head of Insight Charlotte Duff, Head of Operations Gareth Bowden, Client Success Manager Dr Katharine Johnson, Senior Research Associate Matthew Farmer, and Research Associate Lily Nawara are veritable founts of knowledge on this compelling topic.

How to Blend Big and Little Data

As mentioned by our insight experts in the video above: Big Data is comprised of vast, complex datasets that explore what behaviours consumers are exhibiting at any one time. They state what opinions and experiences are so that stakeholders can become more aware of what is happening within their brand experience and within consumer daily lives. Little data on the other hand, allows stakeholders to truly understand the ‘why’ behind the consumer behaviour, opinions and experiences. These smaller datasets provide much more in-depth data on a specific aspect or issue at hand, and the insights from little data points stakeholders in the right direction.

It is well-known in the insights industry that blending big data with little data gives insight professionals and stakeholders the chance to gain insights that are truly actionable as well as realistic goals to work towards. But with these two types of data being so intrinsically different, how are insight professionals to blend them so that we get the best of both worlds?

Big and Little Data, because of their differing natures and scales, have vastly different analytical needs, which makes blending these datasets trickier than first anticipated.

One of the ways to do this, is to collect both types of primary data in the research experience in a way that makes it easier to blend them afterwards. With Big Data chasing the ‘what’ and little data revealing the ‘why’, we can assume that a good way to conduct an iterative agile research experience that works to collect the big data first, and the little data that allows us to fully understand the whole picture once the behaviours have been identified.

Another way to blend both types of data if the stakeholder organisation has a data warehouse storing historical data and insights gathered, is to have a data visualisation or reporting interface that can take different datasets and compare them to find correlations and causations between the datasets to generate new insights. Continually updating the data warehouse and allowing for a search function to bring up the relevant data at any one time can help make market research and data-driven decision-making processes more efficient.

Blending big data with little data gives insight professionals and stakeholders the chance to gain insights that are truly actionable as well as realistic goals to work towards.

Blending Big and Little Data is crucial for modern stakeholders who want to make accurate and timely decisions, who want to future-proof their organisation, and who need to create strong, efficient strategies that create the best brand experience and move their business towards the forefront of their industry. Taking the time to understand the differences, benefits and challenges of both Big and Little Data will only help those stakeholders and researchers who attempt to blend these data types for insight generation purposes.

The Casual Conversation Series

A Casual Conversation on… is a series of short, candid videos with the FlexMR leadership team that introduce the key offerings of the agency, our thinking and viewpoints on the future of market research and the insight industry. Throughout these videos, you’ll hear direct from those involved in designing the InsightHub platform and the unique agency model that FlexMR operates.

This article and video were originally published on the FlexMR Insight Blog and can be accessed here.

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FlexMR is The Insights Empowerment Company. We help brands to act decisively, stay close to customers and embed agile insight at the heart of every decision.