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Up close and personal in the world of data tech

Data Technology

The world of research is changing, that can’t be disputed. But research has offered me an incredibly exciting career and opened a door to a wealth of opportunities I would never have anticipated as a graduate from university.

So for individuals looking to move into the research industry, what does it offer? What career prospects are there in this increasingly data-driven world for those who want to use their skills to understand data and help deliver insights about consumers?

In my role as MD of digital research agency, Watermelon, we are constantly observing the changing technology and research landscape. But I wasn’t originally destined for a career in research – in fact I studied sociology at university, which some may say is a complete contrast to where my career sits now in a data-driven business. But I would argue that the essence of market research is gaining an understanding of consumer needs and preferences, so in fact there’s a more natural linkage than some may at first anticipate.

"My role combines the latest technologies with a deep understanding of human behaviour. No two days are the same and that’s what makes it such an interesting career."
Mark Squires, MD at Watermelon Research

Watermelon aims to bridge the gap between technology and research. Digital technologies enable cost-effective, global, real-time research to be undertaken at scale – and clients are increasingly understanding and embracing this opportunity. The nature of a digital approach to insight means that research can be undertaken in multiple languages, across time-zones, and it can cross the boundaries between channels such as mobile, text, IVR, and email.

Research is also growing increasingly high tech in response to the dramatic changes in consumer technologies and media habits. Society is becoming more mobile, with over 60% of online adults now using two or more devices to access digital content every day, and global mobile advertising spend doubling year on year. Add to this the impact of social media, smarter survey tools, and advanced data analytics, and it is clear that market research has undergone a transformation.

But I feel passionately that new technologies must be embraced alongside traditional research skills – and that is where someone like me can add real value. A proliferation of data is only effective if it is accessible with human understanding and intervention. Extracting value and deeper insight from that data – and the ability to combine data streams for further analysis – are specialist skills that cannot be automated. There can be no substitute for good researchers striving for quality insights.

So my role combines the latest technologies with a deep understanding of human behaviour. No two days are the same and that’s what makes it such an interesting career. My diverse background and experience has enabled me to introduce new skill sets into the business including HTML coding, aggregate and trend data – a significant move away from outmoded data tables.

It’s been several years since I graduated from university and looking around me my career has followed a path I would never have imagined. But I wouldn’t change a thing. So whatever your background – if you are interested in human behaviour, are methodical and analytical and want a rewarding career in research – data technology could be the industry for you. 

Article provided by Mark Squires, Managing Director, Watermelon Research

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