Curiosity and flexibility are essential characteristics of the insights researcher, never more so than today when there are so many new digital tools available to them and the volume of data that can be assessed is growing exponentially.

"The world is changing fast and on the data side of things, it's coming at us not just in terms of change but also in the changing types of data that we're seeing," Simon Edwards, VP/market development and insights at IBM Europe told an audience at the Audience Analytics & Insight Forum (AAI), a satellite event during the IPA's Effectiveness Week (London, October 2017). For example, there are 12 terabytes of Tweets daily – "what the hell do we do with all that data?"

The data lake

If you're going to avoid drowning in the data lake, there are a couple of things you need to consider, he suggested. First of all, come back to the 'why?' question. "Asking why gets to the point of understanding what people are really looking for." Then it is necessary to connect the dots: "how do I bring together all those information sources" – from traditional surveys, to social dialogues to past relationships – in a way that can help "deliver an experience that they individually recognise [as one] of value".