KENN OJUKWU, CEO Quantiplus is known for his creative ways in solving data-related issues. He’s a thorough bred professional who is optimistic about the future of his chosen career. He believes that even with the revolution in technology that data analysis will never go moribund.
Can you share some of your experiences with data processing/analysis when you started business and now?
|Somehow we belong to the old school. We started data processing and analysis with the manual methods. For instance, if you wanted to look at a particular question by gender, you would need to first of all sort the entire set of questionnaires into male and female and take a count of each split and then proceed to tallying. You do same for marital status, literacy level, income category and the entire demographic variables one after the other.Then we used things like DP Instructions, tally sheets and summary sheets. After battling with the tally sheets you proceed to constructing your summary sheet by stitching papers upon papers, and to achieve this you need a very wide table where you have to spread your materials. You then transfer all the tally counts on to the summary sheet to summarize your results. This was a process usually fraught with numerous transposition errors. Simple cross analysis was near impossible not to talk of multivariate analyses. Without these how do you get valuable insights from your data.But today questions can now be cross-analyzed easily with a touch of the button. With another touch of the button, trends and patterns begin to appear clearly. You can now afford to squeeze out the last drop of information from your data set. So there’s no way you can compare the efficiency of today with that of yesteryears, we have really moved on.|
What is the impact of technology in all these?
One is efficiency. Second is timing. Then you would propose that data processing and analysis would take two to four weeks but now that amount of time and luxury are nonexistent. Technology has made it possible that as you are getting the last set of data on your platform, the table of analysis is ready. The cumbersome nature of carrying questionnaires, editing, coding and all of that have been eliminated by technology.Everything now is almost on soft form from the field, to your data analysis platform, to the result even up to the level of presentation materials. So it’s been a wonderful transition. Technology has been quite helpful across board but it looks like it has done a particular favour to marketing research because normally research is time-intensive – from planning to field work to data processing to reporting but with technology now a project that you would have proposed for eight weeks can now be done under half the time, even with all the interpretation and the insights. Ordinarily for you to filter out the real information in a given piece of data then was something else but now with a mere chart, graph or a simple table the story is told. That’s technology for us.
How affordable are some of these platforms?
Actually there are the proprietary software that are quite handy and affordable but there are dedicated software that you really need to put money down just to enhance your efficiency and make a difference because there’s no limit to the information you can filter out from a given piece of data depending on what you are looking for and how much more you want from that piece of data. You can go that extra mile with the aid of some of these software and they cost money. They are not the off-the-shelf kind of packages. For instance, these days they talk of triangulation– a process whereby you use three approaches to treat a particular case -you have quantitative, focus group discussion, and in-depth interview. For those grey areas, for the nuances, you can’t get these from quantitative. These are the things you can only get from the qualitative. There are software now you can use if you want to do content analysis- software that is capable of recording nuances and equally pick scenarios and audio from a given discussion session and accurately report same. In the process of an interview, for instance, if a door is opened, that action is recorded. The bark of a dog is recorded. All these things can impact on the concentration of the person you are talking to. There are software that pick these things and you will use such software to do analysis. So platforms differ.
Is quality of data from the field now better than it used to be?
Data from the field can be seen from different perspectives. What the field person is looking for in the field is determined by the objective of the study and the instrument given to him by the executive in charge of the project , so the data analysis person has a limit to which he can judge the data made available to him. After the basic level of analysis the data analyst can still subject the data to further tests on a more sophisticated software platform to test the validity, that’s the much you can do. The data analyst does not have control over whether that data came from the right person. This is where the field is in charge but the analyst can query this data to know if the respondent satisfies a particular condition to qualify for responding to that question. Then how the data was collected is strictly field’s. Beyond that, modern technology has now made it possible that you can trace data to where it was collected with the use of GPS and co. But even at that it still depends on what the person in the field has done. To that extent the field people and data people have their roles.
Is the advent of technology a threat to your job or a blessing?
Technology makes life easy. It enhances my job. Naturally when you talk of technology there’s this fear. Actually the efficiency I am enjoying with technology could be a disadvantage to someone else in the system. For example, I can now work with one person to process a 100 questionnaires for which I would have needed much more number of people to process then in the 90s. So while it is an advantage to me it is a disadvantage to the other person.
What are we likely to witness in the future in the area where data analysis should be going?
It can only get better because everything has gone so dynamic that even the software you think is the top of the chart today can be displaced tomorrow by a better one. What could look like a threat to me is that there are software that can help you design your survey end- to -end and you get your result, except when it gets to a certain volume and you don’t have other facilities to handle such. In some mini surveys you may not need a data analyst and that’s the only threat but what do you want to achieve with mini surveys? At that mini level it could be a threat to my job otherwise on daily basis data is growing. Everything about life is data. Is it the data on the highway- the one on the social media or metadata or data mining? There’s no day you don’t talk about data. The only thing is that you keep shifting to remain relevant but to close shop is not one of my prayer points.
Now that paper and pen interview is giving way for CAPI, what is the implication of this on your job?
Like I said,you keep adjusting but I don’t know if the time will come when paper and pen will be completely phased out. I am still watching because even well-established agencies local and international still do a kind of parallel running. The time may come but for now am still watching. In some climes qualitative is almost taking the place of quantitative research except that inherently qualitative research is usually of small samples while quantitative is for large samples and quantification. But In terms of conviction, in some places now they are tilting more towards qualitative research because it is adjudged as more evidence-based and that the likelihood of playing games with qualitative is very minimal.