Are you on a first-name basis with your consumer research data?Are you on a first-name basis with your consumer research data? Are you on a first-name basis with your consumer research data? I remember coming across a concept in an article I read back when I was 16 – and it has stayed with me. At the time, I just thought it was a cool ‘nugget of information’. Little did I know it would later apply to my life by relating to my chosen career in working with consumer research data. The concept? ‘ Information is knowing who Cindy Crawford is, but knowledge is knowing Cindy Crawford’s phone number.’ Of course my take on this as a pimpled teen has evolved, and now serves as a pause for reflection as I think about data and the market research industry. Has the difference between information and knowledge changed? As times have changed and with progress speeding along our technological highways, the question still remains, albeit in a different form. In our quest to turn information into knowledge, search engines often seem to know what information we’re looking for before we’re even sure of that fact ourselves. And the landscape becomes even more interesting when social media platforms like Facebook indirectly become a competitor to search engine giants, as some folks take back the reigns when it comes to finding information and gaining insight. What is information? Simply stated in terms of consumer research, information is the vast amount of data available. This information is often disparate, usually siloed, and most likely underutilized. In terms of research, information is the hundreds of cross-tabs that start to look blurry and take more energy to ‘tame’, rather than draw conclusions and generate insights. What is knowledge? Knowledge is the collection of information, followed by processing it into a useful and meaningful story. It’s the application of the information that turns data into insights for storytelling consumer research. Knowledge is important, but just as important is the sharing of the acquired knowledge. Being able to disseminate these insights across functions of the organization allow for better decision-making overall; thereby increasing the value of the consumer research data. Moving information (data) to knowledge (insights) It’s true that you can’t attain knowledge without information. The process of going from data to insights can often be a challenge. There are data insights maturity scales that talk about moving from simply being a collector of data, to being a collaborator that can provide insight. By doing so, better business decisions are made. While some call for a return to basics, to close the gap between data and insights, I think these inputs can help facilitate the process: Smart database design saves time and effort Understanding what – and how it’s ultimately reported – is vital information that can be used to design a database to help generate insights most effectively. Time savings is also of relevance when it comes to design. A design that is neatly organized and contains thoughtful inputs (top-two boxes, summaries and calculations), can save users lots of time.