The Journey From Researcher to Curator (Part IV)

08.20.13

by Greg Heist, Chief Innovation Officer, Gongos, Inc. & Amy Perifanos, Senior Director, Insight Curation, Gongos, Inc.

Blogger’s Note: The following series of posts are co-authored with my talented colleague & curator, Amy Perifanos, whose passion is to step outside “storytelling” to help define the emergence and application of curation in our industry.

It’s clear that we are bullish on Insight Curation ushering in a new way of thinking about how organizations socialize and preserve consumer-driven wisdom. At the same time, Curation is a distinctly different philosophy from the traditional market research analytical mindset. As such, this will require pioneering new approaches and employing new skillsets.

Yet before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a graphical journey to illustrate our point.

Infoglyph_Full

Infoglyph_CollectCollection 

A team of early paleontologists travel to a specific dig site to uncover what they believe to be bone fragments from a particular species. They catalog and examine the disparate bones knowing very little about how they are actually interrelated.

Infoglyph_Connect

 Connection

Assembling the bones begins to reveal a skeletal structure of a dinosaur. The team confirms it is a Stegosaurus and begins to connect this dinosaur to existing science. The paleontologists are able to deduce its diet, its environment, and even how it moved.  While they haven’t yet focused on its role in the larger ecosystem of the era, significant patterns begin to unfold and theories are formed.

Infoglyph_CurateCuration

Once reserved for academics and scientists, the dinosaur becomes accessible to the public inside a natural history museum.  Carefully designed by the museum curator, the exhibit allows one to “live and breathe” the life of the Stegosaurus.  It carefully captures its ancient habitat, layering in other forms of life, giving you a full experience of the time. The story comes to life – bringing context and understanding how this discovery has impacted the world as we know it.

Let’s follow that same progression, look through the lens of the market research industry.

Era of Data

The parallel to the dig site, this era corresponds to the time when researchers had few alternatives to collecting primary data. It was characterized by a one-dimensional focus on the point-in-time measurement and exhaustive analysis of data in isolation.  It was the era of “scientific” 100-page reports with the researcher as “neutral observer.”  By and large, market research has moved beyond this one-dimensional frame and has largely transitioned into the Era of Integration.

Infoglyph_EraOfIntegrationEra of Integration

Paleontology became more powerful when it began connecting disparate discoveries and piecing together what the prehistoric world looked like. Likewise, market research is at a pivotal point in its evolution. We’ve embraced the importance of adding context and finding the greater story. We dig past the obvious, triangulating various data sources to identify new layers and nuances to bring the narrative to life.

This era is also characterized by the leveraging of applied mathematics to make sense of primary and enterprise data.  We’re experimenting and employing advanced data visualization to simplify the increasingly abundant and complex streams of information.  At this point, data libraries and indexing are still seen as the Holy Grail.

The Era of Integration’s mandate is focused on solving specific problems answering pressing questions.  The Stegosaurus is not yet in the museum.

Infoglyph_EraOfCurationEra of Curation

That brings us to The Era of Curation.  If integration is the “science” of market research, curation is the “art.”  Great insight curators recognize patterns, spot similarities, and paint a cohesive picture to reveal larger trends.  But that’s only part of their value equation. They have an uncanny ability to convey their interpretation of the “science” to far broader audiences in enduring ways.

Don’t believe us?  Take what Forbes has to say:

“In the new world of curation, information becomes currency and the ability to repackage something as compelling, consumable and sharable, is an art.” 

It’s time for us all to embrace this art that will unlock new value for corporations continuing to struggle with the complex sea of insights that inundate them.

Our final post will talk in greater detail about the value Insight Curation will bring to the modern corporation. Stay tuned for the wrap up!

[To receive a quarterly email of our latest thinking, subscribe below.]SUBSCRIBE