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Data Gurus

Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast! The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

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Welcome to the the Data Gurus Podcast! The world around us is changing faster than ever before. From automation, artificial intelligence, big data, geo-location to every aspect of how we work and live. This includes DATA. Welcome to Data Gurus Podcast… our mission is to bring you a real life perspective on what’s happening in the data industry and how successful companies and individuals in this niche navigate through the sea of change. Encouraging you to Be Bold, Be Brave and Be Fearless – Let’s navigate the Data Ecosystem together.

Building Savanta | Ep. 157

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Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Sima is excited to have Vin DeRobertis, the CEO of Savanta, joining her on the show today!

In this episode, Vin shares his career journey and talks about building Savanta. He discusses acquisitions, gives his perspective on the research industry, and talks about the challenges he experienced with doing a UK startup on American soil.

Vin’s career journey

Vin spent about three years working as a programmer for the NPD Group before moving on to their Online Operations. He left the NPD Group to work for Carbonview and later joined e-Rewards, where he remained for the next eleven years.

Vin started working for MIG Global in 2017. They needed to create an economy of scale, so in February of 2019, they built a house of brands that comes together under the research umbrella of Savanta at Next 15 Communications.

Vendors

Vendors at large research firms have a unique view of the field. Vin has sold sample and other research services to well over 1,000 agencies globally, so he had the opportunity to see how different businesses performed. Although he was surprised at times, most of his guesses were correct. That helped him make some of his deals.

Doing successful deals

In America, Savanta did three successful deals. Vin had to reach out to many different companies to achieve that.

Acquisitions

When looking at acquisitions, the most challenging part of Vin’s job is finding the right-sized company that wants to sell to him at the right time.

The ultimate success

For Vin, the ultimate success is offering someone 115% of what they thought they would get two years before.

Finding the right buyer

You need to know which approach to take with your buyers. Sometimes, you know that someone is 100% your buyer. When you really get into what you are doing, you start to see that someone who looks like they are only 50% of your buyer could also be your buyer, but you have to speak to them differently.

Vin’s his perspective of the industry

Vin feels that research has been a cottage industry for a long time, and it gets dwarfed by marketing and advertising. He believes that even though research is a slower-moving industry, it is still worth investing in because there is a lot of money to be made.

Research is getting more penetration within the brands

Sima has noticed that research is penetrating more departments, more people, and more functions within the brands, and it is enabling tools to get used on a broader scale, which is good for the industry. Research is no longer being held hostage in one group within an organization. Thoughtful, rigorous, and analytical research is still valued professionally, and research will continue to evolve.

DIY tools

Many of those who use DIY research tools think that anyone can be a researcher. However, what they put in shows that not everyone can be a researcher.

Doing a UK startup on American soil 

Vin has enjoyed coming from the headquarters in the UK and doing a startup on American soil. There is a cultural difference between British and American people, and he has found it amusing to see how much can get lost in an English-to-English translation. Some things work in the UK market, but not in the American market, and vice versa.

Cross-pollination

To integrate their UK and American businesses, Savanta sometimes cross-pollinates. They are not always successful in doing that, however. Their goal is to make businesses roll under Savanta.

A challenge

Certain parts of their UK/USA crossover, like health insurance, are challenging to make global. Although those things might appear trivial, they require a lot of work.

Hire your finance person sooner rather than later

Vin advises anyone starting a business to hire a finance person earlier than they think they need to.

The hardest part of Vin’s role 

The hardest part of Vin’s role right now is finding a pipeline of deals that fits what he wants.

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Vin DeRobertis on LinkedIn

Jan 18 2022

26mins

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Understanding the Non-Conscious Decision Making | Ep.156

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Welcome back to another informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Today, Sima is happy to have Elys Roberts, the Founder, and CEO of Beesy, joining her on the show.

In this episode, Elys discusses his career journey, describes conscious versus non-conscious behavior, and talks about the exciting things they are doing with behavioral science at Beesy.

Elys’s background

While with Eli Lilly in the UK, Eli joined a leadership program and did several different jobs. They included district sales management, marketing, market research, sales training, and sales. Then he moved to the US to join a small startup company where he did pharmaceutical market research online.

More recently, he became the CEO of Ipsos Healthcare. He then took on a broader role within Ipsos, managing six divisions in North America, with about 600 people reporting to him. After that, he established Beesy, a behavioral science insights agency.

A masterplan

Starting Beesy was part of Elys’s master plan. In 1997, while at Eli Lilly, he did an inspiring training course on mindset management called The Winning Edge. It was a game-changer for him. It forced him to get his act together and taught him to be purposeful when setting goals. After that, he wanted to start a company, but he had no experience. So he left the UK and went to the US to join an early-stage startup to expose himself to entrepreneurialism. From that time on, every role he took was to help him build a business.

Looking at risk from a behavioral science perspective

Some people find risk-taking and decision-making a lot tougher than others do. Much of it has to do with how people perceive it. For Elys, taking a risk made a lot of sense because he looked at it from a behavioral science perspective. He knew that he would either succeed or learn a lot by failing.

A regret aversion perspective 

Elys also looked at risk from a regret aversion perspective. So he considered whether he would regret doing what he did as an old man or whether he would regret not having done it. Starting a business was an easy decision because he knew he would regret not doing it.

About Beesy

Beesy is a behavioral-based insights agency, so they are in the business of understanding and impacting decision-making. They mainly help out many major pharma-biotech companies and consumer packaged goods companies.

Conscious versus non-conscious behavior

80-90% of all decision-making is reflexive, non-conscious, and effortless. That is known as System One or autopilot, and it is always on. To make a conscious decision that overrides the autopilot, the pilot brain needs to be proactively switched on. It takes effort and cognitive energy, so most humans do not like to do that.

An effective marketing campaign

Beesy has to understand and know how to impact people’s behavior to execute an effective marketing campaign. So they tell their clients that when trying to persuade people, they can get an incremental benefit by tapping into the other side of the brain and nudging their customers appropriately towards the desired behavior.

Behavioral science

Behavioral science is serious and meaningful science. Beesy has some smart, top-notch behavioral scientists who analyze customer behavior. They do a lot of primary market research to understand what is going on beneath the surface with their respondents and learn what drives their behavior.

Beesy’s approaches

Beesy works with three broad approaches:

  1. They do behavioral audits based on prior research and external empirical research in the public domain.
  2. They do qualitative research.
  3. They do quantitative research.

Everything they do has a foundation in behavioral science.

Factors that drive people’s behavior 

Behavioral science allows us to understand why people behave the way they do. The factors outside of people’s attitudes that impact and drive their behavior include their habits, biases, beliefs, sense of identity, and the context in which they make decisions.

Elys’s role

When on projects, Elys’s role is to ensure that the rigorous science gets pulled through to practical guidance and recommendations to help their clients make stronger business decisions.

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Beesy

Jan 11 2022

25mins

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IDEA Council Research and Future of Money Insights | Ep. 155

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Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Sima is happy to have Lilah Raynor, the Founder, and CEO of Logica Research joining her today!

In this episode, Lilah talks about the research project she did with a team from the IDEA Council and the ongoing study she is involved in, called The Future of Money.

Lilah’s background

Lilah comes from a financial services background. Before founding Logica Research, she managed the research team at Charles Schwab.

Founding Logica Research

Lilah founded Logica Research about fifteen years ago. It was initially called Koski Research. She started her company to provide excellent client service for clients who preferred working with small boutique research firms. Over time, they have become more niche-focused on financial services and fintech.

Making a change 

Owning her own business allowed Lilah to have more flexibility while raising her two young children. It also allowed her to work on different projects and do different types of research.

Research around hot topics

Lilah participated in and conducted some research to help the research industry understand how to ask questions around ethnicity, race, and gender.

The IDEA Council

The Insights Association has a group called the IDEA Council that has within it two working groups. One does research on research, and the other focuses more on the profession and talent.

The IDEA Council’s research on research group

Lilah got involved in the IDEA Council’s research on research group because the purpose of her company is to provide insights for organizations to help improve people’s financial lives. After the murder of George Floyd, and with more focus on inclusion and diversity within the research industry, she wanted to be in a position to provide sample and participants that were both inclusive and diverse.

A white paper

Lilah and the team at the IDEA Council created a white paper on having more inclusive demographic questions. They focused on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

The first step

The white paper is the first step in an ongoing series of research studies. It was done to provide a perspective and recommendations on how to ask demographic questions, how to be more sensitive and inclusive when asking demographic questions, and how to use new questions in their sample design.

A three-tiered approach recommendation

They came up with a three-tiered approach recommendation for asking questions about gender and sex.

Non-binary

Non-binary has not yet been properly defined or researched, so it might not be clear to older generations.

Caution and encouragement

Caution has been recommended when using terms that might not have universal definitions. The option for self-identification with an open end is encouraged.

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation needs to be differentiated from gender. So they offer suggestions for different ways to ask questions about sexual orientation.

Demographic questions

Demographic questions should be handled in a sensitive way, similar to questions about household income, assets, or money.

Race and ethnicity

There is a large section in the white paper on asking questions about race and ethnicity. It has recommendations for different ways in which those questions can be asked. The white paper also identifies terms for race and ethnicity, country of origin, ancestry, culture.

USA

The recommendations in the white paper are based on and geared for the United States.

Race

Questions about race should be asked in a sensitive and open-ended way. Having an inclusive and sensitive coding framework is also recommended.

Multiple selection and self-identification

Allowing for multiple selection and self-identification are also recommended.

Where do you find the white paper?

The white paper can be found on the Insights Association IDEA Council website.

The Future of Money

Lilah is also involved with an ongoing study on the financial and economic uncertainty and stress caused by the pandemic called The Future of Money. Since the pandemic, people have become much more open to talking about money.

Employees are looking for guidance from their employers

Right now, employers are in a place where they need to look at different ways to help their employees. Insights show that people want more than just a 401K, health care insurance, and competitive compensation. They also require investment and financial advice, an emergency savings fund, and help with budgeting.

Are we heading for a cashless society?

People have been using less cash since the start of the pandemic, and also different forms of payments like peer-to-peer, in-app payment options, and autofill payments at online checkouts. We will most likely only go cashless in the distant future, however.

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Logica Research

Dec 07 2021

29mins

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James Norman – Founder of Piloty | Ep. 154

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Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Sima is happy to have James Norman, the CEO and Founder of Pilotly, joining her today.

In this episode, James talks about his varied career and highlights the difficulties he experienced as a person of color, raising investment capital. He also discusses his initiatives to help black founders raise money for their businesses and explains how Pilotly came about and why Pilotly is such an important company for the United States.

James’s career trajectory

James started his career selling video games. After that, he spent some time selling car audio and then started his first “real” company, MJH Sound.com, in 1995 and sold car audio online. After running that business for about four years, James went to the University of Michigan and got a degree in electrical engineering.

Pivoting

James’s audio business pivoted during that time, and they started creating custom parts and building unique cars for vehicle manufacturers.

Custom cars for movies

Then, in 2005, James moved to LA and started building custom cars for movies like The Fast and the Furious.

Video streaming

In 2008, when the recession hit, James got into streaming video. After encountering several challenges, he realized that most people could not do what he was doing. So he shifted away from the failing auto industry and seized the opportunity to create a streamlined video streaming product.

A product planner

James also spent some time working as a product planner for Mitsubishi and then went back to doing his own thing.

New ways of raising money

When his friend started Dropbox, it opened James’s eyes to new ways of raising money for companies. Before that, he had no idea of what it would take to get enough capital together to scale a team and build an organization.

Ubi

James built Ubi, the first online electronic programming guide, and spent his time between 2008 and 2013 doing his best to convince people that nobody would have cable by 2020. Getting feedback from some high-level executives who shared his point of view encouraged James to keep on with what he was doing. He spent the next five or six years running Ubi and ran into many different problems during that time.

Becoming a shining star

In 2011, James applied for the NewMe program, designed to help people of color break into Silicon Valley. He got into the program, and that was his introduction to the San Francisco Bay Area. He was blown away by all the opportunities there, so he decided to stay on and become a shining star!

Software development

James spent a year working as a software developer for a publishing company and learned a lot about software structure. He also learned how toxic the development environment was because of people’s unconscious bias towards black people.

Communication 

James learned that as a CEO, you need to communicate effectively.

No investment capital

After putting a rock star team together, James started pitching his ideas to potential investors. Some investors told him that if he could get the content contracts they would give him the money he needed. Even though he managed to get several content contracts for an electronic sell-through model he developed for a subscription TV service, including one from Warner Brothers, nobody ever showed up with any investment capital.

Testing content and starting Pilotly

James learned the necessary processes from experienced experts and started Pilotly because he needed to test pilot his content effectively with the right audience.

Creating a program for investment

James and his team knew all the right people, but nobody wanted to give them any funding. So they created a program to put the best people of color in front of potential investors and decided to call the investors out if they were still not willing to give them any funding after that.

Transparent Collective

Transparent Collective is a program that represents women and founders of color and helps them get the resources they need to scale their companies.

Helping others

James feels that he is in a position to help other black founders raise money because he has walked that path often, so he can see and hear exactly what other black founders are seeing and hearing.

Why Pilotly is one of the most important companies 

Culture is the biggest export from the United States. Media transmits the culture, and Pilotly defines what media goes on television. That means that Pilotly is in control of the biggest and most important export in the United States. That is why Pilotly has the potential to become the be-all and end-all in understanding the human condition and how we receive and transmit media.

The future of Pilotly

The future of Pilotly is all about further expanding the use of their product within the organization.

Their focus is also on enhancing their norms, getting them to a more granular level, and developing their normative data internationally.

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Pilotly

Nov 30 2021

31mins

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A Scientist’s Approach to Market Research | Ep.153

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Welcome to another fascinating and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Sima is happy to have Jeremy King, the CEO and Founder of Attest, joining her on the show today!

In this episode, Jeremy talks about his unique career journey, discusses the genesis of Attest, and explains how Attest helps organizations use their existing data in better ways to make smarter decisions.

Jeremy’s journey

Jeremy started his career as a scientist. He worked in ecology, genetics, and what is now known as synthetic biology, focusing on mathematical models of reef fish behavior and proving how the entire underwater ecology is driven by sound. That was where his love for data, empiricism, following hypotheses, testing, and learning originated.

After that, Jeremy joined McKinsey and spent nine years traveling around the world helping big companies sort out problems that they could not solve for themselves.

Learning

Traveling to different countries and showing up at new businesses, sectors, and teams every one to three months helped Jeremy learn about businesses countries and cultures very quickly.

A trend

Jeremy became interested in the world of Attest because all the businesses he worked with spoke about being more data-driven and using their existing data in better ways to make smarter decisions. Using their internal data and existing customer data much more was a big trend.

Data about future customers

What was missing in almost all those businesses was data about the customers that they did not have yet. To overcome that gap businesses need to commission a market research project, look into social data, use existing customers as a proxy for future customers, or extrapolate the gut feel of experts to try new product launches.

Gut feelings

Unfortunately, 95% of all product launches fail, and most gut feelings are wrong.

Knowing more about the target customer 

Knowing more about the target customer is vital. But that was missing in every business and sector that Jeremy visited.

Getting the data

Where data is missing, businesses need to go out and get it, produce it, or find it because that is how they will ultimately win or lose.

The genesis of Attest

Jeremy thought there had to be a better way to do more market research for more people in more places more often. So he started thinking of ways to automate to make that market bigger, better, and easier for more people. That was how Attest was born.

Assessing target customers

Data and customers are at the heart of a business. So a lot more needs to be spent on assessing target customers and finding opportunities in unknown areas.

Making market research easier

When market research is easier to do, it creates opportunities for more to happen in more places for more people more often.

Different markets

Attest serves many different markets, so their challenge is to build one product and software suite for all the services, needs, buyer personas, and sectors.

Attest 

The simplicity, power, and quality of Attest set it apart from all other platforms in the industry.

A tailor-made experience

Attest aims to deliver an experience that does everything exactly how organizations want to do it. They will do that in a way that is neither overbearing nor scary.

Insights

Attest strives to show the obvious results and make it easy for organizations to see things they would not otherwise have seen. They enable organizations to communicate those insights internally, which helps them to work in new and more intuitive ways.

About Attest

Attest has its headquarters are in London, and they are big in New York. They also have some team members scattered in many different areas. The company is half commercial and half data science engineering and product design. Their client base is in Europe and the US, and they also have a growing mix of clients around the world. The organization is growing at a rate of about 99%, year on year.

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Attest

Nov 16 2021

26mins

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Digital Citizenship | Ep. 152

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Welcome to another informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Today, Sima is happy to have Singe Deakins joining her on the show. Singe is the London-based CEO and Founder of CitizenMe.

In this episode, Singe shares his background and talks about how the ecosystem is changing and shifting data processing out to the edge. He also discusses how Citizen Me is combining economic impact with social value, bringing more civility to the internet, and helping people to manage their data and choose what they want to do with it.

Singe’s background

Singe has a background in digital innovation that goes back about two decades. He spent the early days of his career putting newspapers online and helping British Airways get their booking systems online. In about 2000, he started using multi-digital channels and using mobile at the center of everything.

Asia

He spent the next twelve years in Asia, based in Singapore, doing open internet work. He helped several hundred million individuals get on the internet with the platforms he was building up in the emerging market of telco systems.

The next problem to solve

After selling his last business to an American private equity company, Singe started looking for the next big problem he could solve. Looking at how the internet and the digital world were evolving, he realized that it should be about people, and the core transactional value would be about the data about the people.

An internet that works for everybody

It became clear to Singe that we need an internet that works for everybody. That is easy to imagine, but the actual mechanics could be disruptive and require an evolution from where the internet currently is.

An issue

One of Singe’s biggest issues has been working out how to govern across the internet in terms of data. He would like to find a way to get to where we all have rights regarding our data and how it gets used.

Consumers

Singe has been on a long journey of getting to understand how people interact with their data. Consumers understand much more now than they did before about what they are giving away with their data. We are moving into a different space around what people want and do not want with their data.

Ephemeral data

Ephemeral data digital tools give people a choice and help them manage how their data gets shared.

Sharing data

There is a big marketplace worth trillions of dollars exchanging everyone’s data all the time, but none of us can participate in it. By using their smartphones, people are constantly sharing huge amounts of their data without even realizing it.

Solving the issue

At CitizenMe, they are looking for the best ways to solve that issue. Their job is to represent citizens, help them manage their data, and find ways to do what they want with their data.

The CitizenMe app

The CitizenMe app allows people to access the insights that already exist about them. It lets them generate their own insights, have a real-time opportunity to transact with those insights, and get paid for it.

Combining economic impact with social value

At CitizenMe, they currently have about 350,000 people on the app. People can either transact their data for cash or share it as a donation towards medical research.

Real-time

CitizenMe is fresh, participatory, and open in the way it works. It allows businesses to have real-time interactions and real-time digital conversations with their customers.

End game

CitizenMe.com is a working example of edge data (zero data and zero data tech). Their end game is to change how data gets handled on the internet, and their mission is to shift the data out to the edge and let people participate.

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CitizenMe

Oct 26 2021

28mins

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Thanks Mom, Education, Education, Education! | Ep. 151

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Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Dara Gurus podcast!

Sima is excited to have Katie Gross as her guest for today’s podcast! Katie is the Chief Customer Officer at Suzy.

In this episode, Katie discusses her background. She also shares her secret to being a successful woman and talks about what Suzy is doing to help and empower companies.

Humble beginnings

Katie grew up in Plymouth, England. Her mother wanted Katie and her siblings to have everything she did not have, so she insisted that all her children had the best education possible.

Meeting different people

Katie met people from different places and different walks of life when she was at university. Being surrounded by smart and ambitious people opened her eyes to exciting new possibilities for the future.

Entering the market research space

Katie got into the market research space partly by choice and partly accidentally. She studied psychology and criminal justice at university and came out of that with an SPSS skill set. She joined a food and beverage company in the UK that dealt primarily with Italian private label products in UK grocery stores. Then she moved to London and worked for Mintel on their consultancy team.

Moving to sales

Katie started working for Mintel as a researcher and later moved into a sales position, which she loved. Having come from a similar role in market research, she was genuinely curious about what her clients were using and how they were doing things. That made it easy for her to come up with solutions to help her clients operate better, faster, and in a more educated way.

Staying in sales

Initially, Katie thought she would only stay in sales long enough to pay off her student debt. However, she remained there when she finally realized how much she loved being in a sales role.

A natural fit

At the time, sales was mostly a hybrid of selling to new companies and renewing current clients. Since then, sales in most companies have been separated into sales and customer success. So it felt like a natural fit for Katie to have managed a combination of sales and customer success teams throughout her journey.

Managing

Katie enjoys helping to shape and mold the people she manages. She also loves to see them succeed.

Moving to the USA

Ten years ago, Mintel opened a new division in the USA. So they asked Katie to move there.

A successful woman

Katie wants to be a strong leader for both men and women. Her secret to being a successful woman is not allowing herself to dwell on the negative and sexist comments and helping those around her to do the same.

At Suzy, there is a “Women at Suzy” group. The women also support each other.

Suzy

Suzy is different in that it owns a panel of its own. They are solving to eradicate the need for overlapping technologies in a fragmented market by moving everything into one place.

A platform

Suzy has created a platform where qualitative and quantitative can be integrated and run quickly and seamlessly with the same respondents.

Two kinds of teams

Some company’s teams are getting empowered on their new journey of agile research by having a playbook and being educated around their new kind of responsibility. The more cumbersome bits are getting automated, giving them more time to be creative. Other companies, however, tend to buy a tool like Suzy’s but do not know how to utilize it because they have never worked in an agile way before.

Empowering

Suzy is helping companies understand that they are there to help them automate and do things faster, and their tool will empower their teams rather than take away their roles and responsibilities.

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Suzy

Oct 19 2021

23mins

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Life After CINT | Ep. 150

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Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast!

Today, Sima is happy to have Richard Thornton joining her. Richard used to work at CINT, and he recently founded an advisory services business.

In this episode, Richard shares his career journey. He also talks about taking risks, his mindset, and his core beliefs. Stay tuned to hear more!

Richard’s journey

Richard studied Business and Marketing at university. After that, he joined a business that served hardware and software players in the imaging space, like Hewlett Packard, Xerox, and Canon. He worked as a research analyst, supporting a team delivering content and insights around subscription syndicated services. That exposed him to working with data. He saw the value that data-driven insights could bring to organizations and gained a toolkit that he utilized extensively later in his career.

After spending four years there, he moved on and became a consultant.

Entering the market research industry

In 2003, Richard fell into the market research industry by chance after being offered a position with Channel Surveys. He was fortunate to enter the industry just in time to ride the new wave of online data collection and digital insights. He was eventually put into the position of European Co-Managing Director, managing more than 300 employees in Europe. He left in 2008 when the business got sold to Microsoft.

Joining CINT

In 2009, Richard joined CINT, a Swedish-based technology company that was way ahead of its time. That was the start of a journey that took him out of his comfort zone and lasted for the next twelve years.

Going public

Richard was fortunate to be part of the leadership team at CINT that eventually took the business public in February 2021.

Leaving 

Richard left CINT in 2021 after the business had gone public.

People-driven

Richard has always been people-driven in his decision-making. He felt driven to meet his mentors in the process of evaluating opportunities that came his way.

Taking a risk

Richard has a good appetite for risk with his work and making investments. After making sure that the business model was sound, he always followed his gut feelings when new opportunities came his way.

What leaving CINT felt like

It was tough for Richard to leave CINT, but it felt a little easier because it was a planned move. He gave up a lot when he left, and that required a massive mental adjustment. Although he is still grappling with those adjustments to some extent, he has no regrets about his decision to leave.

Re-learning

Now, Richard feels as if he has gone from a teacher to a student again because he has to re-learn a new craft. It is humbling but healthy because it keeps him grounded. It has also given him a fresh perspective.

Mindset

You get to feel needed, wanted, and valuable when you’re part of a growing organization. Richard misses feeling that way, so he had to adjust his mindset after leaving CINT.

Choice

Richard is grateful to be in a financial position that gives him a choice. Right now, he is considering what the best choice should be.

A portfolio approach

Richard always wanted to build a portfolio approach to work. That means that he has had to move into advisory roles. He intends to get onto the boards of some tech-led or enabled businesses and combine that with some angel investing.

How Richard is spending his time

Richard has been networking and looking for opportunities. He has built up a portfolio of businesses that he is advising. They are mostly founder-led and tech-enabled or SaaS businesses. He has taken a seat on the board of most of them and invested in some. He is bringing commercial excellence to the table and helping the founders scale.

Diversity

Richard loves the diversity of working with different businesses and being inspired by the founders and leadership teams.

Driving diversity

Richard is a supporter of driving better representation and diversity in the industry. He is proud that more than half of his portfolio consists of women-led tech businesses!

Core beliefs

Richard has learned to put himself first. He knows that his family and loved ones benefit from that, too, because he has a more positive mindset.

He also strives to be nice as well as successful. He feels that it is vital to be empathetic and respectful and do things the right way on his journey to success.

He has also learned not to underplay timing and luck in his career.

Empathy

Since the pandemic, Richard has realized how important it is to support others and have empathy.

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Dynata

Oct 12 2021

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The Journey to CEO | Ep. 149

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Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast!

Sima is delighted to have Lisa Wilding Brown, the CEO of Innovate MR, joining her today as her guest for the podcast. In this episode, Lisa talks about her journey to becoming a CEO, building confidence, the importance of role models and culture, and what the future holds for market research.

Lisa’s journey

Like many others, Lisa had no intention of getting into market research. After accidentally falling into the industry almost twenty years ago, she quickly got hooked! She started as a project manager of an online research team and then moved over to the panel team, where she worked closely with the survey methodology team researching research. She got to know a lot about methodological implications and learned how to do things the right way.

In 2009, she moved to uSamp. Moving from a large global traditional research firm to a tech startup with only a few employees was an uncomfortable change.

In 2014, Lisa joined Innovate MR when the company was still in the startup phase. Now, the company has more than 150 employees in multiple offices worldwide.

Inspired by her colleagues

Looking back at her journey to becoming CEO, Lisa gives credit to the network of friends and colleagues she has met through WIRexec who inspired and invigorated her so many years ago.

Little things

Over time, Lisa started doing little things to get everyone to know her brand and who she was and become more involved in the industry. That helped pave the way to her becoming a leader and the CEO of a business.

Role models

It is vital to have excellent role models. Unfortunately, women do not have as many role models.

Building confidence

While growing up, Lisa never even considered that she might become the CEO of a business. Like many others, she had insecurities and a fear of failure, so she focused on building her confidence.

Encouragement

Lisa encourages everyone to focus on the present moment, have new experiences, leverage opportunities, build their skill sets, and gain new levels of expertise.

Being the CEO

Lisa has a level of empathy that her team appreciates, and she feels that she is accessible to everyone. She feels confident that she will be successful in her role as the CEO because she knows the inner workings of the business and has a great relationship with her team. She hopes to inspire other young women and young professionals in the research space.

Culture

As companies grow, they should not lose sight of the dynamic and culture they enjoyed when they were small companies. Lisa is fiercely protective of her company’s culture.

Disruption

There has recently been a lot of disruption in the sample space. That allows for scale, growth, and efficiency in the future.

Brands are shifting

Brands are becoming more hands-on, and they are working with different, less traditional providers.

The future of market research

Although Lisa does not think that traditional market research will ever go away, she feels that surveys will reduce in the future, and we will see many more short micro-burst surveys.

Stats and data

Stats and data are becoming part of the mainstream. The uncertainty of the pandemic reinforced the need for data, so the average person now appreciates data a lot more than they did before the pandemic started.

Links:

Email me your thoughts!

Sima@Infinity-2.com

LinkedIn

Twitter

Dynata

Oct 05 2021

23mins

Play

Sample Lemon Markets? | Ep. 148

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Welcome to another interesting and informative episode of the Data Gurus Podcast!

Sima is excited to have Bob Fawson, the EVP of Business Strategy at Dynata, joining her today. In this episode, Bob and Sima cover several hot topics related to challenges within the industry around data and sampling.

Bob Fawson’s background

Bob has an academic background. Before getting his Ph.D., he decided to take a break for a while and work. So Bob applied for a sales job at a research company. He enjoyed the experience, and after a short time, he and a few others in the research company started a panel business. They grew the business. It merged with SSI, which merged with another company to later become Dynata. Bob has played various interesting and fun roles in the company over the years, from sales and operations to research science. Most of his career has been in building and maintaining Dynata’s supply.

What’s driving the data and sampling segment of the industry? 

Several things are driving the data and sampling segment of the industry. One factor is the increasing quest to measure and manage data quality. Inextricably tied to that is the user experience, and modernizing what we do in the insights industry to attract and retain participants better. Another factor is finding and retaining the right talent to do those things.

An opportunity

A lot of new talent is coming into the insights space. That is creating an opportunity for those within the space to learn from those people, grow, and change the way they think about how research gets executed.

An interesting analogy 

We tend to see a single price for each make and model in the used car market and little differentiation in terms of how cars get sold. That is because it is difficult for buyers to evaluate the quality of a used car before buying it. It is also difficult for the seller to communicate quality credibly before a sale. That lack of information drives a market where the items get sold based on the average quality at an average market price.

Lemon markets

In many lemon markets, we see commodity pricing (as with sugar or grain) or decreasing quality and decreasing prices as the market finds equilibrium. Bob thinks that the same thing has happened in many data markets.

Reputation

Reputation is a primary way for lemon markets to become more efficient.

The drivers of quality

Although it is hard to define quality within the insights space, a quality survey needs three elements:

  1. Identity validation.
  2. The collected data must accurately reflect what is studied.
  3. Good in-survey behavior. (The respondents need to have a high level of participation and trust.)

Grids

Even though researchers love grids because they are structured and provide structured data, grids tend to drive more disengagement than anything else.

Quality data

Researchers should remember that they are dealing with real people on the other side of the research process. That’s why they need to take the time to think through the simple steps of putting questionnaires in front of people, to get the quality data they require.

Why do people participate?

People tend to participate in surveys because they have an innate desire to share. They also participate to get a reward of some kind.

Improving the research industry    

There is better engagement when the topic is well-matched to the audience. So to benefit from people’s innate desire to share, researchers need to do a better job of profiling qualifying people into their surveys. Researchers will also benefit from gaining more trust from consumers and motivating them to become panelists and share.

Recruitment

Bob feels that the research industry faces more of a challenge with retention than with recruitment. Data breaches with big companies like Google and Facebook have fostered a tremendous lack of trust. So, researchers need to follow through with a good experience after engaging consumers if they want the engagement to stick and be productive.

Doing better with the drivers of the user experience

Providing a good user experience is vital! With user experience research, Bob has discovered that to engage respondents better, everything from the questions asked to how the profiling and audience targeting get done to the introduction and positioning of rewards matters tremendously.

Solving for the lemon market

Bob does not think that the research industry can regulate itself out of the lemon market. He feels that the only way to solve that dynamic is if the industry becomes considerably more transparent.

Links:

Email me your thoughts!

Sima@Infinity-2.com

LinkedIn

Twitter

Infinity-2.com

Dynata

Sep 28 2021

Play

Investing in Research | Ep. 147

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Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Today, Sima shares Part 1 of Investing in Research, a panel discussion about agencies from the recent WIRe (Women in Research) Conference.
In this discussion hosted by Nikki Lavoie, experts Sima Vasa, Sherry Fox, and Elaine Riddel talk about one of the prominent myths currently circulating in the insights industry. According to that myth, only tech and SaaS-based companies receive investment funding.
The panel of experts will explain why that myth is untrue and clarify how service-based companies can begin to access investment funding if they wish to do so.

The experts 

Sherry Fox is a career Global Insights Strategist focused on health care. She is well-versed in strategic brand development and regulatory environments. Sherry is an industry expert and futuristic thinker who can facilitate collaborations leading to the growth and acquisition of service companies. She has also founded future health strategies to leverage the intersection of data, insights, and technology.

Sima Vasa is a multi-faceted business leader in the market research and analytics space with a broad range of expertise from P&L management, operations, business development, marketing, entrepreneurship, and investment banking. Currently, Sima focuses on advising clients on overall business strategy, valuation of strategic options, and execution of investment banking mandates through Oberon Securities, a middle-market-focused investment banking firm.

Elaine Riddel is a growth activist who believes that breakthrough potential exists in every company. She unlocks potential by anticipating market changes that will influence client priorities and then building organizational confidence to deliver new value. As A CEO, she transformed mature, stagnant, global insights firms into scalable market leaders that consistently out-performed the market over fifteen years. Her playbook is the foundation for her growth advisories, serving founders, CEOs, and PE firms. Elaine is currently an MD with Oaklins Da Silva and Phillips, a leading investment bank for marketing and media services.

Why is there the myth that service-based companies cannot get funding?

Sima believes that service-based companies can get investment capital if they want it. It is all about the valuation of a service-based company, compared with a more Saas or tech-enabled company. Investors want to invest in good, financially sound companies that provide their clients with a strong value and serve their markets well. So the question is really around the value of the company.

Elaine thinks that everything has its time. Automating much of the back office and the DIY will result in better, faster, and cheaper kinds of foundational services. We are moving into a time where more people with more advanced decision-making capabilities are needed to advise clients.

Sherry believes that even with the arrival of big data and AI being used more in the insights industry, people are still necessary to deliver the insights to the pointer lane because you cannot rely on the data to explain why something is true. That is why service-based companies are needed more than ever right now to interpret the data.

Having insights translated into action

Elaine thinks that some service-based companies will stand out in terms of their areas of expertise because clients are looking for the expertise to translate insights into action with confidence in real-time.

Opportunities

Service-based companies should look for opportunities to syndicate or create multi-client services- on a subscription basis.

Reducing investor risk

Service-based companies need to reassure their investors that enough is being done to reduce the risk.

Becoming trusted advisors

Market research agencies should position themselves as strategic partners and collaborators with their clients to become their trusted advisors.

Sep 21 2021

51mins

Play

Talk with Ted | Ep. 146

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Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast! Sima is excited to have Ted Pulsifer, the Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at the Schlesinger Group, as her guest for today’s show. In this episode, Ted talks to Sima about his career, his panel discussion at SampleCon, asking the right questions, and incentivizing people to do research surveys.

Ted’s career journey

Ted’s started his career in the technology space, working for large companies like General Electric and AOL, and then he spent a year working in the wine business. After that, he was recruited into market research by a company called Peanut Labs that did a lot of real-time sampling through applications on Facebook. He was later part of an acquisition into the company now known as Dynata, after which he moved to Federated Sample, now known as Lucid. In 2014, he joined Market Cube as a partner. They successfully exited and sold the business to Schlesinger early in 2020.

Advantages

Ted experienced many advantages to being part of a fifty-year-old organization with clients everywhere. He enjoyed applying many of the products and the technology they built and learned from at Market Cube into the Schlesinger Group.

Time to sell

Ted and his partners decided to sell Market Cube because it was performing well, the metrics were in line, and selling the business then felt natural to all four partners. Ted also thought that it was the right time for him to broaden out and move on.

Migrating to online

There were some challenging moments in 2020 for Schlesinger’s staff, employees, and respondents. However, online work scales and tends to force change. So Schlesinger did well within the legacy Market Cube business, which is now part of Schlesinger, and Schlesinger Quantitative Solutions because they had many people who might have done in-person research before migrating to online.

Larger focus groups

In-person focus groups are an extension of the hospitality business. So, like many hotels, resorts, and airlines, Schlesinger had to close that side and make some hard decisions. Fortunately, the digital qualitative platform that Schlesinger acquired from Market Cube was strong and growing, so it boosted the business.

Leveraging technology

Although nobody knows what November 2021 or January 2022 will look like, Ted feels that leveraging technology to add scale and save money will stick with their clients.

SampleCon
Ted enjoyed the emotional side and the human aspect of being able to attend the recent SampleCon in-person. He loves that every year SampleCon takes place in a different city with different content and a different set of users. He learned a lot there and was happy to have the opportunity to narrate a panel about how traditional techniques are merging and talk about qualitative research more largely on stage.

The key themes
The key themes that came out of Ted’s panel discussion at SampleCon related to his belief that traditional quantitative and qualitative are very appropriate methodologies that will remain. He feels that research will continue getting done in the way it has.

His goal

His goal was to keep an eye on new things emerging that should not be ignored and spend time exploring those ideas.

One of Ted’s favorite things to do

One of Ted’s favorite things to do is to look at the reports from clients and brands and the people that expose him to global clients each quarter and see the changes in those buying from him. He also likes to see that new companies that did not exist two or three years ago that are purchasing his research are doing interesting things.

Ted’s article

Ted has recently posted an article called Selecting a Sample Partner with Confidence. The idea behind it is to explain the questions people should ask that they might not know to ask.

Incentives

People want to have a choice of incentives in return for completing surveys.

Sep 14 2021

25mins

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Encore Episode: Multiculturalism: Understanding the Future Majority | Ep. 145

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Today, Sima is excited to bring you an encore episode in which she has a conversation with Mario Carrasco. Enjoy the show!

Multi-cultural research, strategy, and understanding is what Sima and Mario Carrasco, Co-Founder and Principal of ThinkNow Research, chat about on today’s podcast.

Mario worked in the early days of digital marketing, building online communities for MSN Latino, and didn’t know what a research panel was until researching it for a job interview for a closer-to-home job. He got his start in market research building what became the first national representative panels at Garcia Research.

As research numbers started pointing to the US becoming a minority-majority country in the near future, Mario realized there was a need for a market research company to be focused on multi-cultural consumers, and this is how his ThinkNow Research came about.

Mario is also the newest Board Member to join the SampleCon team!

HISPANIC MARKET RESEARCH, THEN AND NOW
In the early days of market research, particularly Hispanic research, companies were hesitant to use emerging technologies. Back then it was online, and now it’s mobile.

Mario has since learned that multi-cultural consumers, especially Hispanic consumers, are super tech savvy, and applying all these innovative technologies to multi-cultural consumers has been his company’s ethos.

DEFINING MULTI-CULTURE
At the basic level of a potentially contentious conversation, it is consumers who are not non-Hispanic white, and traditionally that segmented into Hispanic, African American, and Asian, which are the largest cohorts of multi-cultural consumers in the US. These 3 groups comprise 40% of the US population, and is expected to grow.

As a nation, non-Hispanic white birth numbers are down, and what drives the increase in multi-cultural population growth is US Hispanic births and Asian immigration.

As the country is changing demographically, ThinkNow Research is dedicated to helping other companies interpret these fundamental changes from a marketing and purchasing standpoint.

MISCONCEPTION OF ACCULTURATION
It’s interesting to see which cultural values that 1st and 2nd gen Latinos and Asians pick and choose.

There’s a misconception in acculturation in the marketing industry that the longer you’re in the US, the more “American” you become, as if it’s a linear model.

Yes, you are integrating some aspects of the culture, but there are some things about your home culture (or your parents or grandparents culture) that is retained over time. It’s more like a bidimensionality that is happening.

BIDIMENSIONALITY IDENTITY MEASURE
Mario’s company has done some work for The Journal for Cultural Marketing, where they developed a Bidimensional Identity Measure.

It essentially combines two scales, the American Identity Measure and the Ethnic Identity Measure. There are 15 total questions, and what they have discovered is that depending on your ethnicity, you’re going to be scoring differently across these different measures, as opposed to acculturation which assumes a linear progression the longer you’re in the US.

We should really be looking at what aspects of culture we’re retaining, in terms of home culture and what aspects we’re integrating from American culture.

THE DO'S AND DON'TS OF MULTI-CULTURAL MARKETING
Don’t generalize.
Do your research beforehand, figure out who your consumer is and delve even deeper by defining that consumer within a subset.

Sima loves to hear from her listeners with input, questions, suggestions and just to connect! You can find her at the links below!

LinkedIn

Twitter

Sima is passionate about data and loves to share, learn and help others that share that passion. If you love data as much as her, subscribe on iTunes and don’t forget to leave a rating and review!

Sep 07 2021

23mins

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Encore Episode: Unpacking Social Intelligence | Ep.144

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Sima is excited to share an encore episode she did with Menaka Gopinath, Lead of Social Intelligence and Communities at Ipsos, in which they sit down to discuss the use of social media in social intelligence to help answer business questions.

OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE SPECTRUM
As the market has matured with social intelligence, there’s a lot of amazing things happening in the social intelligence realm for insights, but it’s not being leveraged as broadly it could be.

On the flip side, the people who are using social listening tools across the board in marketing and digital functions probably could be getting a lot more insight out of it.

The data is already available, but there’s so many ways to use it more strategically.

DEFINING SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE
This can be many things to many people, but from the perspective of Ipsos, it’s about leveraging the datasets for insights.

From a classic research sense, most clients are using a social listening tool and at the baseline they are listening to what people are saying about their brand, and may be listening to their core competitive set. From the purposes of Ipsos, this is not necessarily social intelligence, as much as it is social listening, which is still an important aspect of marketing.
How one uses the dataset to address a core set of business objectives from an insights perspective is at the heart of social intelligence.

SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE AND USE CASES
Some of the core areas where a lot of Ipsos’ work is done is in market understanding and category landscape.

Understanding what your category looks like can be a difficult question to answer these days, so what social data can provide from a very consumer-centric perspective is how people are talking about the “need” or the “occasion”. You don’t have to start from the perspective of brands. This is a different way of approaching market landscape work.

Cultural trends and forecasting and foresight against what is bubbling up and what is worth focusing on versus what might just be a flash in the pan is another area where Ipsos is using social intelligence a lot.

APPROACH IN MARKET ENGAGEMENT
In the context of market landscape there are different ways of approach, as Menaka explains in a high-level overview.

This is ultimately driven by what consumers are organically saying about these brands in the social conversation.

Imagery is a critical part of the analysis, and video is an emerging area in terms of the technology capabilities for analyzing, but in terms of what is done with it is gaining in importance.

Contextual research is always presented along with custom research to help provide clients with a bigger picture of what the data represents.

Email me your thoughts!
Sima@Infinity-2.com
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Aug 31 2021

29mins

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Encore Episode: Bootstrapping QuestionPro with Vivek Bhaskaran | Ep.143

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Today, we’re excited to be airing an encore episode of an interview with Vivek Bhaskaran, who is the founder and CEO of QuestionPro. He's here today to share his experience bootstrapping QuestionPro.
About Vivek
Vivek grew up in India. After completing his primary education there, he left the country and moved to Russia, where he lived from 1995 to 1997. When he left Russia, he moved to the United States, and there, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Brigham Young University in Utah.
Founding QuestionPro
After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree, Vivek moved to Seattle, and he started QuestionPro in 2005.

He has never raised any capital for the business from outside investors, and he has managed to build his company up by himself, slowly, over time.
What QuestioPro does
QuestionPro started as a survey platform, and currently, it serves as both a survey platform and as an experience management platform.

Over the last couple of years, the company has turned upmarket, and Vivek has identified three different areas that have added confidence to the business:

Consumer insights and market research
Customer experience
Surveys targeted towards employees

QuestionPro started initially as a survey platform. It then expanded into offering a survey toolset, and they have now also identified three buyer patterns within their ecosystem.
Vivek shares his experience of bootstrapping back in the early days
Vivek feels that he has been lucky in business. When he built QuestionPro, back in 2005, the term SEO had not yet been coined. So, as a software geek/hacker, Vivek created the QuestionPro platform, and he then started looking for ways to market it. He thought that the marketing of his platform would be easy. All he would have to do would be to become “number one” on Google.
SEO is an analytical exercise
Vivek points out that SEO is not a creative exercise, and that most people don’t seem to understand that it is analytical.

Vivek does not think that SEO is the right thing for marketing purposes. He believes that SEO should fall under the category of engineering, and it should work as an analytical exercise.
Getting to #1 on Google
Vivek thought that getting to number one on Google would not be too complicated if he were to adopt a trial-and-error mindset as a scientist would. That is what he did, and it worked!

So they got traffic inbound, they started selling, and they started making money. And Vivek came to realize that his business is intrinsically extremely viral.
A viral business
Vivek realized that his company is one of the few B2B platforms with a viral index. He understood that if he could get a customer who would send out a survey to a million people, it would be a good thing for his business.
Gaining value from his product
Vivek saw that for anyone to get value from his product, they would have to send it out, either to their employees or to their customers. And that would be a benefit to his business.
Why bootstrapping QuestionPro worked
The reason that Vivek was able to bootstrap QuestionPro, in the beginning, was because he did not need a lot of money to market it. And once he got started, he was able to keep the business operation going.
Living a good life and doing new things
Vivek explains that right now, he’s living the COVID life because he is waking up each day and doing whatever he feels like doing.

He is currently launching a podcast, and he is also coming up with new ideas for products.
Execution is everything
For Vivek, having the flexibility of coming up with new ideas is vital. However, it is the actual execution of the new ideas that counts for him. So much so, that he finds the final execution of an idea to be even more important than the idea itself.
Moving to Austin, Texas
Vivek started his business in Seattle, and he lived there for about ten years. He then moved the company to the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

Aug 24 2021

28mins

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SampleCon – Future Proofing the Industry Part 2 | Ep. 142

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Welcome to another informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Today, Sima shares the second part of the two-part series related to her recent opening session at SampleCon. The session was titled Future-Proofing Our Industry and covered a range of different topics.

For this episode, the focus is on the implications of the capital coming into the industry, user engagement, proving the process of user engagement, and some key lessons learned by the esteemed members of the panel, both personally and professionally, related to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The panel includes Patrick Comer, the CEO and Founder of Lucid, Bob Fawson, EVP of Business Strategy for Dynata, Mario Carrasco, the Co-Founder and Principal of ThinkNow, and Rebecca Brooks, the Founder, and CEO of Alter Agents.

The industry 
Over the last several years and even more over the last twenty months, the amount of capital coming into the market has increased. Mergers and acquisitions have also increased, and the ecosystem appears to have expanded. New digital players are enabling more insights, and there are new buying audiences within corporations.

The opportunities available for people today

Mario feels that we are sitting on some incredible data which has been overlooked by marketers for a long time. He does not think that the digital add-in industry has come to grips with how that will impact the world. He feels that the sample industry is poised to fill many of the data gaps that will occur in a post-cookie world.

Bob does not know how anyone in the future can be successful as a sales, brand, or operations manager without also being a bit of a data scientist. He feels that we have just seen the beginning of it because data is becoming harder to get, and more people are figuring out what data scientists do, and seeing the value of it.

Patrick feels that the industry is sitting on a gold mine because, as a collective group, we have first-party data and permission to ask questions every day. What got built over the years through data insights and surveys has suddenly become interesting to many other players.
Rebecca thinks that new money, new investors, and new ideas coming into the space is excellent for the industry. She is excited about having the opportunity to do something different, build differently, and think about things differently. Something else that came out of the pandemic for her was that many systems and traditional ways of doing things got exposed to be either flawed or broken.

Urgency 
Bob feels that we have moved into a space where there is more urgency. There is money coming into the research space. There is the opportunity, so we need to start treating the people who fuel our industry like human beings.

Staying nimble
Rebecca feels that companies holding onto the way things were or who try to put things back into the box will fail. Business leaders need to be nimble, open, and adaptive.

Machine learning
Bob thinks that we, as an industry, need to move towards machine learning. He feels that the new capital coming into the industry will facilitate that.

Res tech
Patrick feels that res tech plays beautifully into the direction in which things are moving. It all comes down to us holding our own in an environment where we are up against mar tech and ad tech. We need to attract talent and capital to the industry.

The value of res tech
The value of res tech is allowing people who do not understand our industry to feel like they do.

Supply
Supply is a hot topic right now because there appears to be a shortage of it. Investments scaled back when the pandemic started, and everyone resorted to purchasing on the various exchanges out there.

Helping
Rebecca’s approach to the supply problem is to come at it from the angle of looking for ways to help people.

Candid
At Alter Agents, they are candid with their clients when talking about the issues they are having.

Aug 03 2021

27mins

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SampleCon – Future Proofing the Industry Part 1 | Ep. 141

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Welcome to another informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast!

Today, Sima shares the first part of a two-part series she created from the session she moderated at SampleCon, which took place in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. The session was titled Future-Proofing Our Industry and covered topics that included talent topics related to how people will return to work, supply topics, and market dynamics.

The panel includes Patrick Comer, the CEO and Founder of Lucid, Bob Fawson, EVP of Business Strategy for Dynata, Mario Carrasco, the Co-Founder and Principal of ThinkNow, and Rebecca Brooks, the Founder, and CEO of Alter Agents.

What work looks like for the next six to twelve months

Rebecca:
Alter Agents had an easy transition to working full-time remotely during the pandemic. Their staff also doubled during that time. They decided to allow their lease to lapse at the end of June 2021 and keep on working remotely. It has been challenging not to have the usual opportunities to interact and chat with colleagues. So Rebecca has scheduled time to meet with everybody one-on-one, once a month, to keep connected and talk about business or personal matters.

Overall, her staff is happy and working better than ever. Working from home has released them from some of the stress they were experiencing from being at work. They now communicate with one another fluidly via Slack.

Rebecca’s primary concern is upholding the company values and maintaining its culture.

Bob:
Bob feels a little concerned about onboarding and helping new team members find mentors and learn how to work in a professional environment. They have been pursuing a hybrid model, which was a shift for their company. Bob is not sure that anyone knows what their preference will be six months from now, but he is looking forward to that evolution.

Bob has enjoyed seeing how resilient people are. He hopes to end up with a little more balance between work and non-work life.

Mario:

When ThinkNow was founded back in 2010, working from home was a core tenet. They wanted to be a cloud-first company.
Their leadership works from their headquarters in Los Angeles, and they have sales staff around the country, project management teams in India, and development teams in Latin America. The hardest part of the pandemic was finding themselves unable to see their overseas employees at their annual or bi-annual gatherings. Although technology has helped, they still miss getting together in person and interacting.

They have taken the approach of opening their office and letting people come in when they want to. So far, that has been working well. About 70% of the employees go in two to three times a week, and the rest go every day.
They are looking at people from a holistic perspective, rather than only looking at them only from a work lens, to address some of the mental wear and tear after the pandemic.

Patrick:

Lucid is a global company, so they are constantly aware that the pandemic affects different parts of the world differently, and it is not over yet.

They have done their best to live up to their core value of compassion. The team went out of its way to offer help to Indian people and their families and assist them in staying connected and doing business. Patrick remembers having to remind their team in India that they could have extra days off if they or their families were sick.
Sharing an experience, and knowing that we are all innately very human at this time, has made Patrick a more empathetic person, and hopefully a more compassionate person too.
Connecting people

Bob

It was supportive of Bob’s company culture to see the offices in Europe or the Philippines take on the work that others could not. That connected people across cultures and across the legacy companies that make up Dynata. It has been a catalyst for a lot of expression of good within the company.

Moving forward 

Moving forward needs to be an organic process.

Jul 27 2021

24mins

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Insight Platforms | Ep. 140

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Welcome to another exciting and informative episode of the Data Gurus podcast! Sima is excited to have Mike Stevens, the Founder of Insight Platforms, as her guest for today’s show.  Mike is joining Sima today to talk about his company, Insight Platforms, and discuss the changes happening in the data and insights space.

About Insight Platforms
Insight Platforms was originated as a directory of platforms for insights, software, and data tools, across the spectrum of market research, UX research, CX research, and analytics.

The Genesis of Insight Platforms
Mike has always worked in the intersection between insight, marketing strategy, and technology. The genesis of Insight Platforms was Mike’s consulting business, where he did lots of advisory work around digital transformation. A surprising number of new startups were happening in that space, so he built a directory.

Mike’s background
In the late 1990s, Mike started his career working in a niche boutique marketing strategy consulting business, helping people create strategies for getting into new markets. He worked for several other consultancies after that. He then spent a few years working with a Canadian software business formerly known as Vision Critical and later rebranded to Alida. After leaving that company a few years ago, he set up on his own as an independent consultant.

Pressure
Enterprise insight market research teams have been under various kinds of pressures. They have been pressured to work faster, be more agile, and have more influence, and there has also been a gradual erosion of who owns the knowledge about the customers.
A data science component
Much of Mike’s initial client base were teams looking to upskill, harness technology, change the skills mix in their teams, and bring a data science component into their primary research skill base. They also wanted to adapt their operating models to be continuous providers of data and insights.

Three sides to the market
There are three sides to the market: They are enterprise buyers, service providers and agencies, and technology providers with whom agencies and enterprise clients will have relationships.

The changing landscape
Technology companies need help with their go-to-market strategies and expansion. Agencies also need help with figuring out what their likely proposition will be within the changing landscape. That creates fertile ground for strategy consulting, which is both interesting and rewarding.

Embracing change
Mike enjoys working with teams who are keen to embrace change and want genuine help to get there.

The new insight model
Although there is a lot of fear and discomfort in any rapidly-changing market, things are starting to shape up right now in the area of new insight models. There are a lot of opportunities available for those who want them.

Abundance
We are generating an abundance of data currently across many mechanisms, consumer groups, and locations. As a result, some of the challenges in this exponential age will be about processing abundance rather than scarcity.

New data sources
There are currently many new and different types of data sources. The various starting points will result in different takes on the data and insights business.

An interesting trend
A trend is that more people are getting more hands-on with research and insights data. A lot of decision-making is currently due to customer-driven data.

A layered approach
The craft of understanding methodology and putting data into the correct perspective has now become one layer within a multi-layered approach to analyzing data.

An evolutionary process
The data industry is undergoing an evolutionary process. The different layers should become more clarified over the next ten to fifteen years.

Different categories
Mike distilled the complexity that he saw initially into about thirty different categories of software and data tools. It became apparent to him, however,

Jul 20 2021

28mins

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The Future of Work Part Two | Ep. 139

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Welcome to Part Two of an exciting two-part series on the future of work. Today, Sima continues her conversation with Kelly Monahan, the Thought Leadership Research Principal Director at Accenture Research. In this episode, Kelly and Sima discuss the different models that companies are considering, to bring people back into the office, create hybrid models, or go completely remote.

Going back to the traditional model
Some employers think they might encourage their employees to go back to the traditional model by compensating them with higher pay. Others are considering paying their employees less if they do not return to the office.

A rational economic move
Incentivizing people to work in less than preferred conditions was a rational economic move that was popular in the late 1970s. Henry Ford was a master of that tactic.

In the short term
In the short term, there will be a segment prepared to work in terms of an incentive to maintain an old paradigm.

In the long run
In the long run, however, it will not work. Incentivizing people to work in less than preferred conditions is a dangerous strategy because once the financial incentive reaches a certain amount, people’s motivation for work drops dramatically. They will start seeking out situations where they feel dignified and can have meaningful engagements with their coworkers.

The leadership experience
It is all about the leadership experience. Under poor leadership, people will leave eventually, regardless of how much they earn, because it compromises their ability to be human.

Industrial and organizational psychology
Kelly has been studying the future of work for the last seven years. It frustrates her to see how little industrial and organizational psychology and behavioral science gets brought into leadership decision-making and boardrooms.

Understanding more 
Kelly feels that if we understood more about how people behave, what incentivizes them, and what matters to them, we would have very different organizations today.

An old model
Our philosophical assumptions in the business realm have not become updated. The focus in MBA business administration and how people get taught to lead in organizations is based on four principles: planning, organizing, directing, and leading resources. That is an old model that no longer works today.

In the past
Even in the past, those four principles did not create an ideal model. The labor strikes back in the 1920s and 1930s prove that. The government outlawed Frederick Taylor’s way of doing business because it was considered a dehumanized method. Yet, today, our MBA programs are still anchored in that method.

New leaders
Some new leaders are doing things very differently from what they have inherited and learned. They have decided to work more humanly, even though it becomes more difficult as a business scales.

For a business to scale
The further you get from your employee population, the harder it is to have human kindness, compassion, and dignity because those qualities become transactional for a business to scale.
The question we need to ask
In the future of work, we need to ask ourselves what our success metric will be.

A new leadership playbook
In the future of the digital economy, hypergrowth, innovation, creativity, and creating environments where people can do things differently will scale. That will require a new leadership playbook.

The digital economy
A digital economy requires a complete change in the skill sets that people have. So we need to create long runways in our organizations to do that without leaving anyone behind.
Creating value
In today’s digital economy, people and organizations need to be as intelligent as possible to create value. To get to intelligence, organizations will have to invest in research and development, innovation, and upskilling programs.

Reframing education systems
Children should learn how to be curious.

Jul 06 2021

21mins

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The Future of Work Part One | Ep. 138

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Welcome to the first part of an exciting two-part series on the future of work. Sima is happy to have Kelly Monahan, the Global Lead Talent Researcher/ Principle Director at Accenture, joining her as the guest for the series.

Research on the future of work
Accenture took an in-depth look at the future of work. They wanted to understand what people need and feel today. So they went out and looked at more than 9300 global workers across ten different industries and ten different countries to represent a global workforce.

Similar sentiments
They had within their data set 70% workers and 30% leadership. So they could make some comparisons. They found that most people, workers and leaders alike, had similar sentiments.

Predicting
They wanted to predict what was causing people to feel a certain way or make them want to go back on site.

How people are feeling about work
Some people were optimistic and energized, but the majority were somewhere in the middle and or negative.

Disgruntled people
A third of the people felt disgruntled. When thinking about the future of work, they were pessimistic, tired, and burned out. They experienced micro-aggressions and felt fatigued.

Going through the motions
About 30% of people said that they were simply going through the motions of life. They were feeling neither negative nor positive. They were unsure and waiting to see how the leadership would make their key decisions about people returning to work before making a true sentiment on how they feel.

Optimistic 
About 42% are thriving, optimistic, and energized.

Researchers
Researchers want to know what is going on underneath to cause those differences in sentiment.

Life enhancement
When looking at mental health scores, Accenture looks at a concept called Life Enhancement which is about whether your work is adding to your life or taking away from it.

Net Better Off
Net Better Off is a concept that determines whether or not your job is leaving you better off than most other humans in terms of dignity and money in your pocket.

Generational differences
From a generational perspective, they saw a statistically significant difference with the young people. Gen-Z is struggling the most with mental health, and they tend to be more pessimistic about their future than the other generations. Gen-Xers are also struggling with their mental health, and like Gen-Zers, are unsure about the concepts of Life Enhancement and Net Better Off.

Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers, however, tend to be pretty optimistic and have adapted well to the new world of work.

Millennials
Millennials are still fairly optimistic about work and their ability to create change and adapt to the hybrid world.

Key moments
The key moments in people’s lives tend to impact their expectations and the way they view work.

Gen-Z
Gen-Zers tend to be hungry for social connections. They feel a need to leave their parental home, grow up, learn to understand things and be mentored. They need in-person interaction to do that.

The physical world of work

Both millennials and Gen-Z are looking to experience the physical world of work.
Work as an experience Gen-Zers tend to view work as an experience, not just a transactional operation to support life. They want their work to contribute to their life. They tend to view their work and personal identities as one thing, rather than having separate professional and personal identities. So they want to see the companies they work for representing their personal values and ethics.

C-Suite companies
There has been a profound shift with C-suite leaders. CEOs now tend to feel a need to comment on societal issues.
Important issues for those who work for C-suite companies have become what a company believes in, how it helps society, and its morality, ethics, and values.

Corporations cannot hide
Corporations cannot hide any longer because they are now interacting on platforms where all their comment...

Jun 29 2021

20mins

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iTunes Ratings

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Awesome show, highly recommend!

By J. Barshop - May 21 2018
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Sima and her guests provide some incredibly actionable and compelling content, spotlighting the latest data trends that will help improve your business and / or life. Highly recommend listening and subscribing to Data Gurus if you want the knowledge AND mindsets to take you and your business to the next level (and reach your overall goals as a result)!

Practitioner Perspectives

By pkirch host of BOSS Academy - Apr 02 2018
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Sima is a practitioner who knows the research and analytics industry. She brings a great perspective to the show and is bringing in great guests to complement her knowledge. Great job, Sima!