Making Information Meaningful

The forecast is looking cloudy, but fine

The forecast is looking cloudy, but fine

IT affects the way we do market research. Recently I was reflecting on the changes that have occurred in the IT industry since the advent of the IBM PC in 1981 over 30 years ago.

The IT industry has many fallen stars: companies which were once household names but are no longer with us.

A few examples will be illustrative:

Technology changeWinnersLosers
DOS to Windows operating systemMicrosoftVisual BasicApricot, SinclairDbase/Clipper
Analogue mobile phonesTelstra, NokiaPager companies
Client/server computingOracle, Gupta/SGL WindowsSQL Server/MicrosoftICL, Wang
2-3G mobile phones/smart phonesApple, SamsungBlackberry, NokiaCopper wire telephony
Rise of the webAmazon, GoogleSensis/Yellow Pages in hard copy
Social networkingFace book, Linked In, TwitterYahoo Groups
Advent of cloud computing-early adoptersAmazon, Google, FacebookApple iTunes ShopSome retailersBig- mid tier business
Advent of cloud computing-later adoptersMicrosoft, SAP, TelstraBig-mid tier businessSMEs?Any business that does not adapt

Whenever there is a paradigm change, there are winners and losers. The latest paradigm change is the move to cloud computing.

In my view, the big suppliers such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP and others are pushing cloud computing as it changes their revenue model to one of continuous rental and forces users in certain emerging countries to pay them licence fees. For example, who has heard of a cloud service which allows you to make a pirate copy of their software?

As market researchers, we cannot escape the migration to cloud computing. For example, Office 365 – the cloud version of Microsoft Office – is readily available from Microsoft, Telstra, and other Australian vendors.

There are two aspects to the cloud I wish to mention here today. Firstly, the cloud covers a wide spectrum of web-hosted services, from traditional hosted services out of a data centre to specific software systems hosted in cloud-specific IT environments, eg, Microsoft Azure applications. This means that Software-as-a-Service, which is used by many of our SurveyManager clients, is a cloud solution. Our Azure version of SurveyManager is another type of cloud application.

Secondly, the cloud will provide new ways we collect and store data as market researchers. Like everybody else, we will gradually start using software programs which are cloud-based, and store the data they create on the cloud. For example, at the end of October 2013, unless you change it, the My Docs folder in Windows 8.1 will by default store your data on the Microsoft cloud.

Over time, this means that as market researchers we will increasingly have to be aware of where we are storing our clients’ data in order to conform to the strict privacy and data security obligations our profession places upon us.

David Willcox