Multiple streams

As a trend watcher in the IT space, I have noticed a consistent drumbeat over the last few years. CIOs and their interest in analytics and business intelligence has been consistent if not increasing. This makes perfect sense as companies realize they need to leverage both internal and external data sources to better compete in rapidly changing markets. Analytics, including the analysis of web data, is a mainstay in both consumer and B2B marketing environments. Where exactly is the dividing line between analytics and business intelligence?

I say it is a matter of perspective. Most analytics operations include a forward-looking component, as in how can model future events, whereas business intelligence (BI) takes a backward view through the examination of historical trends.
Where does marketing research fit into this mix? I say it fits right in the middle. Analytics and business intelligence key on behavioral data, monthly financial data and weekly sales transactions are prime examples. These techniques help to answer questions around how customers and prospects relate to your company’s offerings. Where they fail is in their ability to provide marketers information about why things happened.

Marketing research, in this case, survey (quantitative research) and qualitative research (focus groups, in-depth interviews, ethnography, etc.), places its emphasis on answering why our customers and prospects have an interest in our products and services. You need both approaches to gain a 360-degree view of the market.

If your company or organization is solely focused on answering how and when customers chose to do business with you then you are missing out on critical pieces of the equation. From the analysis of consumer behavior we know that behavior is preceded by attitude formation and behavioral intentions. These components are best tackled via survey research and qualitative study.

Organizations that couple both transactional analysis (the domain of BI and analytics) with a deeper understanding of the attitudes driving those behaviors, through a synchronized marketing research program, are suited to compete in today’s nimble market. Online platforms such as Question Pro provide the tools needed to leverage changes in behavior and better understand the attitude drivers.