A newly released report from the Environics Institute shows a dramatic decline in the proportion of Canadians that believe discrimination against either Black or Chinese people is no longer a problem.
by laying out a strong road map to success and following through, we’ve managed to make big data a huge asset for both our clients and ourselves
Since 1970, Environics has been a leader in the field of market research consulting. With an original focus on public opinion polling and public affairs research, we’ve grown into a medium-sized consultancy providing services in a range of fields, including financial services, health care and pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods and telecommunications. Until recently, we’ve relied heavily on the collection of survey data to understand consumers and form insights, but over the past five years, there’s been a clear shift.
Big businesses around the globe are now looking for more data-driven decision-making techniques and, in many ways, survey research alone just won’t cut it anymore. Unfortunately, for many small- and medium sized organizations like us, this shift poses a major challenge, as true data-driven decision-making usually means making a big business-sized investment.
It’s a barrier that could have represented a huge setback for Environics, but by laying out a strong road map to success and following through, we’ve managed to make big data a huge asset for both our clients and ourselves. We’ve shared that road map below and, by building on our example, your business can start taking advantage of the insights big data has to offer too.
The Four Key Checkpoints:
Our road map was laid out with four key checkpoints along the way, each of which is pivotal to achieving big data integration. That being said, what will truly impact your success is an understanding that the implementation of this road map will involve every aspect of your business and a change in the overall mindset of your organization. With that in mind, let’s breakdown those checkpoints.
Checkpoint 1: Vision and Leadership
As we’ve already mentioned, the implementation of big data analytics impacts every aspect of your business, so it’s extremely important that your leadership team defines what they are looking for in terms of success. That means creating clear short-term goals that contribute to a long-term vision. Try to avoid simple long-term goals, as they can quickly lead to open-ended development. This type of work tends to become more expensive in the long run and makes the return on your investment difficult to calculate.
Here at Environics, we created a Digital Innovation and Data Management team that’s committed to the development of new data management and analysis tools. But, rather than simply investing in expensive software and staff, we’ve focused on exploration by building relationships and partnerships across the data analysis industry. We’ve even taken it a step further, looking beyond our own industry’s expertise to help us form the most effective development strategies possible.
By borrowing from the software development industry, we’ve utilized capability maturity models (pictured below) to keep our development goals on track and moving forward. As you can see, the model allows us to place each of our development projects into a category of maturity. As our projects continue to develop, they are defined and managed based on their current state of maturity. It’s a relatively simple model, but experts in the field of development have proven its effectiveness by implementing it across the software industry.
Checkpoint 2: Analytical Skills
According to a recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute, in as little as five years, business professionals could be facing a 50% to 60% gap in the demand for professionals with deep analytical skills. In other words, there’s a shortage of analytical talent coming, and you’ll need a solid approach to recruitment if you want to keep up. Unfortunately, traditional recruitment techniques like postings on job boards simply don’t allow for a broad enough range of skills to be captured – and competing for recruitment with big business is far too expensive. Instead, we recommend relying more heavily on partnerships and establishing roots in analytics communities.
Although Environics is a relatively medium-sized business, as a data consultancy, we’re admittedly a bit ahead of the curve in terms of analytical skill. We employ teams of analytics experts from a variety of backgrounds, but at the end of the day, it’s the partnerships we’ve forged and our own forward-thinking that have been key to our development of talent. Our partnerships with Georgian College and Humber College, for example, have given us steady access to a deep pool of cost-effective, entry-level talent to draw from. Graduates come to us with the basic analytical skills they need to get started – and, with the right vision and guidance, we’re able to develop them into the talent our future needs require.
To use an analogy from the basketball world, if you aren’t the Miami Heat, you probably won’t be able to recruit the Lebron James’s of the world. They can make offers to top-level talent that you, as a smaller organization, simply can’t match. But, if you have the right foresight to know what your talent needs will be in the future, you can be like the San Antonio Spurs and attract high potential talent, mold them into what you need and win it all without spending a fortune on recruitment.
Checkpoint 3: Tools
When it comes to working with big data, acquiring the tools is likely the most daunting challenge for most small businesses. It’s almost impossible to make a large enough investment into this area without being a large organization. In particular, setting up the appropriate infrastructure to host and work with your data can be very difficult. Here at Environics, we’ve found that the best way to deal with this is to utilize the tools that you do have while taking advantage of the various cloud solutions that exist, such as Google Big Query.
By using cloud tools, we can host a variety of databases and scale server performance to our needs at the time. This allows us to connect to, and load, especially large datasets into databases using the analytics tools we already have without worrying about our infrastructure, and whether it’s robust enough to handle our future needs.
Crowd-sourcing communities like Crowdanalytix.com and Kaggle.com can also work well in terms of connecting you with data scientists who can offer potential solutions to your current tool’s limitations.
Checkpoint 4: Tolerance for Failure
Just like any investment, the implementation of big data analytics comes with more than a few unknowns and risks. It’s important to remember that this process involves aspects of research and development, and that not all analytic techniques will lead to tangible benefits. To help illustrate the point, look to Thomas C. Redman and Bill Sweeney’s analogy in the Harvard Business Review:
Companies that aim to score big over the long term with big data must do two very different things well. They must find interesting, novel, and useful insights about the real world in the data. And they must turn those insights into products and services, and deliver those products and services at a profit.
While the two goals are mutually reinforcing, companies actually require two distinct departments. To succeed at the first, companies should set up and manage a “data laboratory” … for the second; companies should set up and manage a “data factory.”
It’s an important analogy to keep in mind because it underscores the fact that some of your of analytics activity will never leave the research floor. Your organization will need a certain tolerance for that eventuality, along with the ability to learn and adapt from those less successful endeavours, if you want to be successful.
Again, as a data consultancy, Environics is already structured to deal with the distinction between developmental goals (the data laboratory) and operational goals (the data factory), with separate yet cross-functional teams working hand in hand.
Although dealing with failed developments can be difficult at times, with clearly outlined objectives and paths that lead from development to operational goals, your team leaders should still be able to effectively evaluate your results.
So, there you have it. A road map to success with four key checkpoints along the way: leadership, analytical skill, the right tools and a tolerance for failure. There’s no question that the shift towards the implementation of big data analysis can put the little guys out there at a disadvantage but, with our road map in place and a bit of innovation, we at Environics have found that big data can work for small business too.
Explore more of our capabilities and insights
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According to data from Environics’ Financial Services Among New Canadians Study, over half of all newcomers who immigrated to Canada less than 10 years ago have registered investment products, [...]
Environics Research VP of Corporate and Public Affairs, Tony Coulson and VP for Western Canada, Dan Ouimet discuss Canadian oil sands advocates, opponents and the silent majority that lie in the [...]
Environics founder Michael Adams discusses the composition of Canada’s 42nd Parliament and its ability to represent the face of Canada.
Environics founder Michael Adams’ recent piece for The Globe and Mail discusses the Syrian refugee crisis, and why Canada and the U.S. diverge on the issue.
Environics Research is proud to announce the appointment of Bernice Cheung as VP of Cultural Markets.
Environics Research spoke with over 1,000 Canadian newcomers to build an understanding of the attitudes, behaviours and financial goals of this extremely lucrative segment of the population.
Michael Adams teams up with David MacDonald to explore how the boomer generation’s late-in-life spending will reflect its values.
From October 7th to 9th 2015, ISO representatives from up to 18 countries will meet in Toronto to propose a draft of the ISO 19731 quality standard for Digital Analytics and Web Analyses in [...]
Should energy policy be a key issue of party focus this election? Environics Research Vice President of Western Canada Operations, Dan Ouimet, discusses.
In 2015, Environics asked 2,000 Canadians to rank a number of potential priorities for the country over the coming year – in essence, asking Canadians what issues they want their leaders and [...]
Environics Analytics Releases WealthScapes 2015 Analyzing Canadians’ Assets, Liabilities and Spending Power
Environics Analytics (EA), the marketing services and data analytics company, today announced the release of WealthScapes 2015, the most comprehensive database available on the assets, [...]
Compensation Survey Shows CFA® Charterholders in Canada Earn Excellent Compensation Averaging $280,454
Canadian professionals holding the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) designation earned an average of $280,454 in 2014 up from $239,215 in 2011, according to the results of a compensation survey [...]
EY, a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, has named Environics Analytics (EA) President and Founder Jan Kestle a finalist in its EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards [...]
Environics Research Grows in Western Canada: New Office and Senior Staff to Support Growing Client Base
Environics Research Group is proud to announce the appointment of Dan Ouimet as VP for Western Canada.
Environics Research’s Corporate and Public Affairs Team asked pharmacists their opinion on dispensing medical marijuana and found them to be divided on the issue.
Environics began tracking Canadian attitudes toward the oil sands development in 2008 and noticed a downward trend starting in November 2013.
Environics has found that, on average, 43% of samples distributed were not going to the right physicians
A recent social values analysis of engaged investors revealed a link between participation in the financial planning process and health as a priority.
First-time homebuyers are doing their homework and making responsible financial decisions, according to a new study conducted by Environics Research.
Release: First-time homebuyers are doing their homework and making responsible financial decisions, according to a new study conducted by Environics Research.
The first book of practical, data-driven insights about Canadian multicultural markets. Learn how your organization can connect and thrive from Migration Nation.
Environics’ Corporate and Public Affairs Team explores what it will take for electric vehicles to become a more familiar fixture on Canadian roads.
Albertans are concerned about the current state of the economy but are more positive than negative about the direction of their province according to Environics' latest numbers
Legalization of marijuana is a divisive issue with a slim majority of 54% supporting legalization and 45% standing in opposition.
An in-depth look at the effect ethnic cultural difference could have on the recent acquisition of Cossette by the Chinese company, BlueFocus.
There has been a shift toward generics and, for branded pharmaceutical companies, fighting that switch means implementing a 2 pronged marketing strategy.
Environics’ Health and Wellness team has put together a list of 5 practices to make your next round of brand planning the best it can be
Big businesses around the globe are now looking for more data-driven decision-making techniques and, in many ways, survey research alone just won’t cut it anymore.
Diwali is one of the most important holidays among Indo-Canadians, giving Canadian Companies a huge opportunity to build a rapport with one of the largest and fastest growing cultural groups in Canada.
LCBO sought to understand how exactly their customers perceived their brand, and how their emotions informed those perceptions.
Canadian social values, and their evolution over the past few decades, tell an important story.
A road map to guide small businesses through the difficult process of implementing big data analysis.
Despite the lip service of patient centricity, pharma brand strategy and tactics still primarily focus on the physician.
Call them NIMBY (not in my back yard), LULU (locally unwanted land use) or BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything), but understanding public reactions to infrastructure [...]
Environics’ Health and Wellness team describes why reducing health costs by decreasing the number of people who receive therapy is a shortsighted policy.
IBM’s “Watson” is a topic that deserves greater attention as we look toward the future of prognosis for various forms of cancer.
This study showed that, from their study population, approximately 1/3 of physicians are tweeting an average of 20+ tweets on oncology.
A TD survey conducted by Environics Research finds the profile of online investors is changing.
Release: A TD survey conducted by Environics Research finds the profile of online investors is changing.
A new Environics survey commissioned by TD has revealed a substantial minority does not take all the vacation time their employers allow them.
A new Environics survey commissioned by TD has revealed a substantial minority does not take all the vacation time their employers allow them.
Despite the similarity in acronym, Environics Research Group is NOT behind these calls. Callers from Environics will identify themselves as calling from "Environics."
Release: In recognition of Financial Literacy Month in Canada, Bridgehouse Asset Managers today releases the results of the Bridgehouse Investor Knowledge Index.
In recognition of Financial Literacy Month in Canada, Bridgehouse Asset Managers today releases the results of the Bridgehouse Investor Knowledge Index.
Release: Using Environics Social Values research, Standard Life has developed a new online tool to help Canadians better understand their own values and motivations around saving and investing.
Using Environics Social Values research, Standard Life has developed a new online tool to help Canadians better understand their own values and motivations around saving and investing.
Environics’ Digital Innovations teams explores whether Rogers should be worried about the way Canadians reacted to their outage on social media?
A new Environics poll finds that among decided voters, the federal Liberals hold a clear lead (34%), trailed by the Conservatives (28%) in second and the NDP (24%) in third.