November 2015


Tackling Data Overload: Making sense of complex multi-source data

Managing big data • Data integration •  Data visualisation

20 November 2015, Royal Statistical Society, London
September 2015 image

We are in the midst of a fundamental change to our concept of “research data”. We still have our nice, clean, curated survey data, but are now awash with all sorts of other material, like picture and video data as well as great rafts of text.  These data are big, fast moving, dirty, often of questionable provenance, and of a nature that we are not so used to dealing with.

In our one day conference, we’ll be looking at different aspects of how we are getting to grips with the many challenges and the opportunities thrown up by this data revolution. We’ll hear from speakers who are working on gathering and organising this data, combining and merging disparate data sources and those trying to use visual metaphors to help explain what is going on in large, complex, multi-source datasets.

Covering the complete life-cycle of “new data”, this conference will give you a broad overview of the many fascinating tools and techniques being developed and will look at some case studies of the many complexities that arise.


Big data is more than behaviour: Why business needs to get smarter about extracting insights from big data – Colin Strong, Verve

The icon experiments: Primary research exploring the science of visual communicationJon Puleston and Satsuki Suzuki, Lightspeed GMI 

A question of balance Ken Parker, The Thinking Shed and Martin Oxley, Buzzback

What lies beneath? Visualisation is only the tip of the iceberg – how best to deal with the data – Matthew Napleton and Laurence Armiger, Zizo

BI and MR: When worlds collide – Jon Eastwood and Joe Parker, Network Research

Video – the struggle to extract its true value – Simon Lidington, Big Sofa

The memefication of Insights storyDaniel Teixeira, Insites Consulting

Official data, new light. The development of Visual ONS – Robert Fry and Zoe Hartland, ONS

From data to storiesMegan Lucero, The Times / News UK


Abstracts and speaker’s biographies

Presentations from the day are available below for you to download or listen to, as indicated by the links after the abstract and speaker information.

1. Big data is more than behaviour: Why business needs to get smarter about extracting insights from big data

Colin Strong, Verve

Big data should promise much for the market research industry – we are able to observe human behaviour in a very granular way over extended periods of time. But just how much can we derive from this to enhance our understanding of consumers’ attitudes, intentions and beliefs? And do we need to? And from another perspective, how can a bigger picture view of the consumer that market research offers assist big data analytics? This presentation starts to unpick the opportunities and pitfalls.

ASCnov15_Image_003Colin Strong is a UK-based consumer researcher working with a wide range of organisations (both private and public sector) to help shape their consumer strategies. The focus of his work has always been around ‘data’ in its many forms. First, he is very engaged in the way we can use ever increasing amounts of data available about us for new consumer insights that, at times, replace but more typically complement, more mainstream forms of consumer research. Second, he is very involved in exploring how the data economy is fundamentally reshaping business models and public policy. Governments and industries need to understand how to respond to the way in which data is creating fundamental shifts in our personal and commercial relationships but also as in our society generally. Innovation is a key element of this.

Whilst Colin is a keen advocate of the use of data to drive insight, he firmly believes there is a key role for more familiar survey and qualitative methodologies. Behavioural science also runs throughout his research practice, not only to design experimental approaches but also to guide data analytics.

Colin is a regular speaker at conferences and a contributor to a wide range of publications and blogs. His new book, ‘Humanizing Big Data’ is published by Kogan Page.


2. The icon experiments. Primary research exploring the science of visual communication

Jon Puleston and Satsuki Suzuki, Lightspeed GMI

This presentation will present the result of some extensive ground breaking primary research investigating the science of visual communication. Examining the role that icons, charts and visuals have to play in the gathering and delivery of research data. It explores how we process visual information, how visuals help us to remember information and how they motivate us to consume it. We will present best practice advice for using of icons & charts in research and some guidance on how to exploit visuals more effectively in the delivery of research information.

ASCnov15_Image_004Jon Puleston is VP of Innovation of Lightspeed GMI a Kantar business, where he heads an international team called QuestionArts specialising in the copy writing and design of surveys. He acts as a consultant on survey design techniques to companies around the world. He and his team have won multiple awards for their ground breaking work exploring survey design methodology and in particular for is work in the field of gamification of research.

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3. A question of balance

Ken Parker, The Thinking Shed and Martin Oxley, Buzzback

The Holy Grail of research has always been the richness that can be achieved from qual combined with the confidence that can be offered with quant. As time has gone by, both disciplines have been enhanced. Integration approaches and techniques have increased and claims have been made that the Holy Grail is within grasp. Or is it?

Two practitioners debate the issue. Being long-standing friends they tend to move to the middle ground of equilibrium, although they come at the issues from different ends of the seesaw.

With online, qualitative content we can attain increases from our respondents. Not only do we have discussion and body language to contend with, but we now have contextual ‘data’ from videos and photos that add to the mix. Added to this are eye-tracking, wearable technology and even hypnosis techniques.

So, at a time when asking the question “why?” is becoming taboo, we’ve never been in a better place to answer the question “why?” But can we analyse and present the increasing information we can receive without blunting its meaning and shifting away from the cutting edge to the mainstream? Or have we really broken through to enter the new world of richness with certainty?

We present the cases. You decide the best way forward.

ASCnov15_Image_009Ken Parker

ASCnov15_Image_010Martin Oxley


4. What lies beneath? Visualisation is only the tip of the iceberg – how best to deal with the data

Matthew Napleton and Laurence Armiger, Zizo

In this presentation, Laurence Armiger and Matt Napleton of Zizo discuss how important data is in any analytical project, and what approaches you can take to making sure you get the most from the information you have, no matter how complex it may be.

ASCnov15_Image_011Matthew Napleton is Marketing Director at Zizo. Since graduating in 2002, with a BA Hons in Drama with a specialism in marketing, Matthew has worked across many sales disciplines within IT. Starting with Internal sales (working with vendors such as Citrix, and IBM), he moved to an Account Director role at Dataplex, selling Enterprise Solutions as a sales professional. Matthew joined Zizo in 2008 as Business Development Manager, before becoming Director of Marketing in 2012. He is responsible for both the partners of Zizo, and driving the go-to market strategy.

ASCnov15_Image_012Laurence Armiger is Sales Director at Zizo. He joined Zizo in 2014 to head up sales, grow the partner channel and for the creation of the Zizo as Service (ZaaS) offering in the market. Prior to Zizo Laurence worked for several Blue Chip technology companies, most notably EMC Computer Systems where he was responsible for many large Enterprise clients. Laurence has also been involved in the creation and management of other cloud based technology companies.


5. BI and MR: When worlds collide

Jon Eastwood and Joe Parker, Network Research

We believe that “fast”, “accurate” and “beautifully-visualised” shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, and have spent the past year developing the tools and processes to bring these three attributes together. The end product is a service which brings beautiful data visualisation to mass- volume customer tracking research studies.

ASCnov15_Image_013Jon Eastwood
is head of Technology at Network Research. With a background in e-commerce and web design Jon makes sure our IT infrastructure remains leading edge so our researchers can minimise the time they spend managing processes and maximise the time they spend thinking, analysing and supporting our clients. He is the driving force behind Network Research’s information portals and knowledge hubs.

Joe Parker
is head of Information Design at Network Research. Originally an analyst, Joe has taken that skill set and aligned it to an eye for graphics and information design. He is responsible for making sure our outputs from reports to on-line portals are visually engaging, easily understood and the sort of thing that our clients like to pass around their colleagues, making themselves look good!


6. Video – the struggle to extract its true value

Simon Lidington, Big Sofa

Simon has been a long-time supporter of the power of video in research. Big Sofa was founded to provide real authentic conversations. We used a ‘big sofa’ to get our participants to relax, whilst filming our interviews. Believing that video research gives your research authenticity and greater value.

As a result we ended up with thousands of hours of video – which we were struggling to extract value from. It wasn’t accessible – we couldn’t search it and showing outputs to clients was a time consuming process. We experienced first-hand the problems which many people encounter when conducting video research. It was just too cumbersome.

We quickly began to understand that to use video, there needs to be a proper system to manage it. Otherwise your analysis will be stilted

and time consuming, more importantly you can’t access that deeper, richer content. We’ll talk you through our journey and how we’ve learnt to embrace technology to make video accessible as a research method.

ASCnov15_Image_019Simon Lidington has worked in consumer research and marketing for 35 years. Having set up his first research company at the age of 31, he is now CEO of Big Sofa and leads our client relationship work alongside his business partner Matt.

Simon’s vision of democratising insight content across organisations led to the initial formation of Big Sofa and its subsequent development into a market leader in video management and analysis. Simon has a Masters Degree in Organisational Behaviour from Exeter University.


7. The Memefication of insights story

Daniel Teixeira, InSites Consulting

The Memefication of insights story it’s all about enhancing the visualisation & activation of consumer research insights. It’s about going beyond the standard reporting methods and onto a visual platform where all stakeholders can easily understand and build upon these insights in an interactive manner. Imagine Pinterest but for insights’ reporting, thus visualisation is a key trigger for stakeholders to dive into the research outtakes…

ASCnov15_Image_020Daniel Teixeira is Senior Research Manager at InSites Consulting. He has managed hundreds of research projects for global brands such as Heineken, Heinz, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Yamaha and TUI Travel, among others, anchored on state-of-the-art true fusion methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative. Prior to this he worked in a local market research agency in Porto, Portugal, focusing on political and communication research.

He has 8 years of experience in the industry focusing on innovation, category equity, brand management, communication & customer experience. His everyday goal is still more easily said than done: bring brands closer to consumers, facilitate co-creation & generate impactful insights.

Daniel has a degree in Social Psychology, from the University of Porto, and post graduate diploma in Market Research.


8. Official data, new light. The development of Visual ONS

Robert Fry and Zoe Hartland, ONS

Early this year the UK Office for National Statistics launched a new site which is aimed squarely at the interested citizen. The site’s motto is “official data, new light” – this captures the commitment to show fresh insights into the ONS statistics from the people who produce our data – the statisticians, economists and researchers. Data visualisation is at the heart of the content on this site – taking full advantage of the picture superiority effect. This presentation will explore further thinking from behind the content on the site as well as a closer look at example content and feedback to date.

ASCnov15_Image_025Robert Fry currently leads the Digital Content team at the Office for National Statistics, creating and overseeing the creation of data-driven content hosted on A statistician by background he currently applying this knowledge through the visualization of data, both big and small. He uses interactive visualisation techniques to allow people to uncover insight in the data. Rob’s work has been recognised by the Royal Statistical Society.

ASCnov15_Image_026Zoe Hartland is the Interactive Content Lead at the Office for National Statistics, part of the multi-disciplinary Digital Content team who create content for Zoe has a background in both statistics and design – useful when creating data driven products which are both visually appealing and informative, and has had work syndicated by the National media.


9. From data to stories

Megan Lucero, The Times / News UK

The Times and Sunday Times had several front page exclusives this year that led to international outcry and institutional change, all in part to their investment in computational data analysis. From tax avoidance, to FIFA corruption, to doping in athletics, investigations by the data team at The Times and Sunday Times have changed public interest journalism through programmatic analysis of data. The team, equipped with statisticians and programmers, lends an analytical eye to vast amounts of data in a unique way for a newspaper. During the General Election, they rejected polling data and covered the election with their own model instead. This talk will address how a small team embedded in a newsroom, not unlike those in other industries, is making sense of the ‘data overload’ and using it for change.

ASCnov15_Image_027Megan Lucero is the Data Journalism Editor at The Times and Sunday Times in London. She was part of their first data journalism team and led its development from a small supporting unit to a key component of Times investigations. Her team’s data mining and analysis brought many issues into the public discourse, including widespread use of blood doping in athletics and high profile figure’s participation in tax avoidance schemes. She spearheaded a political data unit for analysis in the lead up to and during the UK’s last General Election and her work has been recognised by the Royal Statistical Society and the Global Editor’s Network.