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Patricio Pagani On Why Being A DIVA Leads To Market Research Success

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It’s time to get your DIVA on!

As part of IIeX Asia Pac next month in Sydney, Infotools & GreenBook are happy to announce that submissions are now open for the newest round of the  Data Insight Visualization Award (DIVA), which aims to acknowledge the most innovative and effective data visualization examples within the insights space.

I thought it would be fun to do an interview with the mastermind of the DIVAs, Patricio Pagani of Infotools, in conjunction with the launch. Patricio comes originally from the client side and has a clear vision of why this is important, as well as a great perspective on how the DIVAs have helped the industry become more aware of this important topic.

So, get your submissions in now for DIVAs APAC and enjoy Patricio’s take on the whole topic below.

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LFM: What is data visualization in market research? Why is it important?

PP: Data visualization has always existed in market research – it’s the charts and diagrams we use to evidence and communicate what we’ve found. The simplest bar chart is data visualization. These days, we can engage our audiences through many exciting tools that deliver clever design and interactive interfaces. It’s important that we have a continual focus on excellence in communicating with our audience, and that means staying on the cutting edge of data visualization. But the principles are the same as they have always been in market research: clarity, accuracy, and meeting the objectives of the research.

LFM: How does the market research industry compare with other fields when it comes to data visualization?

PP: What’s relevant is not where we are, but where we could be. The most innovative data viz is not being done in businesses, but by the press. This is undeniable. Market researchers have similar skill sets to data-driven journalists – they know how to tell a story with data. In fact, we could be even better suited to creating great data viz. It’s time to make that a reality.

LFM: What are the Data Insight Visualization Awards (DIVAs), in your own words?

PP: In their simplest form, the DIVAs recognise the people who are most effective in communicating consumer insight with data visualization. The word “effective” is carefully chosen here – it’s not about the fanciest or flashiest or biggest-budget delivery. It’s about the one that best helps to get the insight heard. But the DIVAs go beyond a trophy, awarded to one team for one piece of work. They elevate data viz, and inspire market researchers to share their coolest work, they challenge us and help build relationships which drives innovation in our field.

LFM: What prompted you to lead the charge and create an award for data visualization of consumer insight?

PP:  This came about due to a sense that although innovation was happening, the dots weren’t connecting. Market research data is special, and data viz in market research is a specialist discipline, but we weren’t seeing the best work of practitioners and they weren’t connecting with each other. It was time to bring market research data viz into the light of day, and get people excited about it.

LFM: The DIVAs have seen lots of interest from market researchers since GreenBook and Infotools launched them at the start of 2014. Were you always certain of their success?

PP: The first time we ran the DIVAs we didn’t know what to expect! We knew there was great work happening, but what we weren’t sure of was whether we’d inspire people to share their work. The interest the DIVAs generate now is credit to two things: great work from the joint team across GreenBook and Infotools in spreading the word, and the entrants for being willing to give this a go and put their work on display.

LFM: Tell us about the personalities who you’ve met through the DIVAs.

PP: Through the DIVAs I’ve met dozens of cool, creative researchers that strive to deliver results to their clients in a way that cuts through the noise and brings meaning. There have been graphic designers and journalists amongst the DIVA winners and finalists too. As we know, researchers are a rare breed and they come from all sorts of diverse backgrounds. That is what I think is a big asset for us, and one we must explore and use a lot more than we do. We could be a very creative bunch, despite the fact that we may not see ourselves like that.

LFM: The DIVAs have led to great outcomes you didn’t expect: tell us about those.

PP: I love how the DIVAs have brought recognition for researchers doing awesome work. This goes beyond just the winner – all entrants get to show off their work and reach new audiences with it. The excitement they’ve generated goes beyond what I expected, and that’s fantastic to see. But as well as this, the DIVAs are picked up by the wider marketing and data viz press and they show the world that we’re an industry doing cutting edge work. Because they are visual, they put a tangible face to the vast amount of valuable work that market researchers contribute to business and society.

LFM: You’ve judged the DIVAs over three successive rounds, and you’re about to be a judge in the fourth DIVAs at the IIeX APAC. What are the big trends you’ve seen?

PP: There’s definitely a thirst for more impactful ways to deliver results. This is not only what we are seeing through the entries, it’s also what we hear from clients when we conduct round panels across the globe. Clients are expecting more from us. The DIVAs are just a very small attempt at recognizing those who do a good job.

There has been a trend where more and more of the visualizations are fluid. That is, the way they look is directly driven by data that is displayed, as opposed to tweaked by an analyst to ‘make it look good’. It’s obviously harder to make those ‘data-driven’ visualizations look amazing and shine a spotlight on an interesting story, when the data is fluid. You never know what the data is going to ‘say’, or if it’s going to look pretty or not. The visualization will take different shapes and tell different stories as the numbers change – you can’t embellish like you do on a standard infographic.  But these vizzes engage the viewer in a two-way dialogue, as they let viewers play and interact with the data to come up with the story themselves. So they have a different kind of power! I’ve seen really good examples of companies that are starting to crack this challenge. And I’d love to see more and more. Clients are definitely hungry for them.

Also, it has been a challenge for the judges to compare these different types of visualization. We are looking at creating subcategories in the future to address this in a fairer way.

LFM: What sort of companies do the best data viz of consumer insight? What qualities or approaches do they have?

PP: Great data viz requires a combination of different kinds of expertise: technical, visual, analytical, and storytelling. It’s rare for individuals to possess all these skills, and it’s not very common even for market research agencies to have a blend of these skills – perhaps because they tend to hire people who are good researchers, and possibly underestimate the value of creative skill sets. The winning teams have all included graphic designers, so that’s a trend I think we’ll see grow. In the words of one recent winner, Danica Atkins of TRA, “Agencies should hire for diversity in thinking”. Beyond the skills these teams have, there’s also a mentality that sets them apart. They think outside the box and are willing to deliver insight in a way no one has seen before. It’s brave, and takes an investment of effort from them that I’m delighted is being recognised.

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