Data & Analytics

The Big Data Problem That Market Research Must Fix

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Insight into what customers really care about often is hampered by the quality of the information being collected. Big data can support smart market research, but only if researchers embrace psychometric best practices and the basics of understanding what it is they want to measure and how. That means asking the right questions, asking enough questions, understanding how to weigh questions, and taking into consideration how people felt about the brand to begin with.

There’s Always a Time Lag (With a Price Tag)

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Technology changes faster than society can keep up, a pattern now playing out with artificial intelligence. Many CEOs are taking a wait-and-see approach to AI, while others are anxious to barrel forward. In both cases, there’s little conversation about AI’s human costs. Incremental adaption makes it more likely that AI algorithms shared across organizations and geography are spreading their shortcomings. Leaders must act to mitigate these challenges if AI is to benefit society.

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Digital Transformation Opens New Questions — and New Problems to Solve

Modest questions about how today’s problems could be solved more effectively lead to applications of technology with easily foreseeable gains. But when people start asking bigger, bolder questions that challenge basic assumptions about how a problem has been framed, they open up space for breakthrough innovations. That’s been the pattern in many digital realms, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.

AI-Driven Leadership

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Not many companies are there yet, but there’s a developing framework for what it takes to lead an AI-driven company. Leaders at the forefront of AI have seven key attributes: They learn the technologies; establish clear business objectives; set an appropriate level of ambition; look beyond pilots and proofs of concept; prepare people for the journey; get the necessary data; and orchestrate collaborative organizations.

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A More Profitable Approach to Product Returns

A relatively small number of purchase and return metrics can accurately predict customer profitability — and the likelihood of policy abuse. By using analytics to identify the few customers who cost the company the most money by abusing return policies before they make their next purchase, companies can prevent abusive returns, avoid PR disasters, and boost their profitability.

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Goodbye Structure; Hello Accountability

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Companies will be able to operate as true digital organizations only when they learn how to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities and threats. But instead of restructuring to increase agility, some organizations are assigning accountabilities for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners. Tackling new objectives is then built around individual flexibility, market-based resource allocation, experimental mindsets, and coaching rather than managing.

Leading With Next-Generation Key Performance Indicators

MIT Sloan Management Review and Google’s new cross-industry survey about key performance indicators (KPIs) asked senior executives to explain how they and their organizations are using KPIs in the digital era. The results shed light on the challenges and emerging opportunities companies face when using KPIs, demonstrate the many ways advanced use of KPIs can benefit organizations, and offer steps executives can take to make the most of KPIs going forward.

Measure Your KPI Alignment

A new MIT SMR study measured the role of KPIs in aligning an organization toward its objectives. Three categories emerged: Measurement Leaders, Measurement Capable, and Measurement Challenged. Take this self-assessment to uncover challenges and opportunities based on your score — and find out what group you are in.

Master the Challenges of Multichannel Pricing

Retail customers may accept different prices on different channels — but retailers need to manage new complexities to make it work. These include understanding what customers value in each channel and how that affects what they will pay, giving store employees the right language for talking about price differences, and working out operational challenges. Getting it right has a real payoff: Retailers that effectively price differently across all channels see bottom-line growth of 2 to 5%.

Interactive: Customer-Focused KPIs Fuel the Future of Business

Research from MIT Sloan Management Review and Google shows executives increasingly rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to manage and lead their organizations. But what sets leading companies apart is not so much the number of metrics they track but how they use them to better engage customers — and thereby grow their businesses.

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