Doug Garnett wrote a blog post titled AI & Big Data Question: What Happened to the Distinction Between Primary and Secondary Research?

« The great market hope of data analysis (now sold as “AI”) was that companies who systematically gathered “data” would create a valuable resource to guide later decisions. »

« Any program of “gathering data” without knowing the specific questions you want answered makes the data SECONDARY data…

  • Most data used by business is gathered in the process of doing business — it’s found data. Inside companies this includes cash register data or product sales databases.
  • It may also be data which comes from research that has been done for some other purpose.
  • The mass of Facebook and other data gathered online data collected about web users is also secondary data. »

« Primary data comes from primary research designed to help answer specific questions. That means it is designed knowing opportunities for how research can assist your business in this challenge. It is also designed knowing the clear risks that research might encounter — customer biases, problems in language, problems gathering data, etc… Primary data is well known to be more reliable when it comes to decision making. »

« We must never forget that all secondary data includes hidden assumptions or is used with assumptions on the part of companies. It’s rare to see these assumptions clearly articulated as risks.  »

« Those of us who worked direct marketing have quite a bit of experience with the data that is the foundation of data science and AI and the false promises that have been sold… In [one] case, business reply cards matched purchasers against a magic set of segmented zip codes. We found out that buyers skewed to low population areas and that New York was the lowest per capita location of buyers. Sounds profound — and the client was ready to pull all ads from New York. Except, I ran a quick sales analysis and we sorted out that the largest single market for purchases was…New York. »

« It’s even more concerning to me that companies appear to have cut back on traditional primary research in order to rely on big data/AI — because of vendor and consultant promises. »




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