Building a solid research foundation

Accuracy is the lodestone for the market research industry. Without a solid factual foundation, how can one build forecast models that stretch 3-5 years into the future? The importance of up-front legwork, open communication, primary research and secondary research all lead an analyst to concrete, realistic forecasts that can stand up to scrutiny. How can we achieve accuracy?


IMS research: excellence in market intelligneceAn article I read this morning in one of the many CE and DTV trade journals that pop into my inbox daily contained some data points regarding pay-TV operator subscriber rates that I found intriguing.  The trade journal reporter believed that one of the data points was inaccurate.

Accuracy is the lodestone for the market research industry.  Without a solid factual foundation, how can one build forecast models that stretch 3-5 years into the future?  The importance of up-front legwork, open communication, primary research and secondary research all lead an analyst to concrete, realistic forecasts that can stand up to scrutiny. How can we achieve accuracy?  We do so through transparency: definitions, presentation, and important distinctions made in reporting must be transparent to the reader.

Definitions are of the utmost importance.  Without them, one cannot categorize and analyze data.  In the most recent report I finished, IPTV: A Global Market Analysis – 2011 Edition, I established a rather firm definition in the first sentence of Chapter 2: “IMS Research defines IPTV as the delivery of multimedia services over a managed IP network for a subscription fee.”  It seems that many people define and count Verizon’s FiOS subscribers as IPTV.  IMS Research does not.  Their use of QAM modulation and the delivery of linear video over coaxial cable rules them out as IPTV, despite the fact that they utilize IP for VOD and other application functionality.  If one were to count Verizon because of this, then what about DirecTV’s IP VOD service?  No one would make the argument that they are IPTV. This can lead to a wide variance in reporting from research firm to research firm, as subtracting 3.4 million some-odd subscribers out of the world IPTV market is a significant potential percentage.  The key is to be clear and up-front with the definition.

Presentation and distinction are other interesting aspects that are often overlooked.  The way data is presented can have a large effect on how it is received and interpreted.  If someone references DirecTV as a leading global operator, but does not include DirecTV’s Latin American business unit, one must do so with the distinction made, and the logic behind that distinction.  Put together, DirecTV would clearly be the world’s largest operator, but to present only North American numbers moves them a few ticks down the list. 

If one wants to list France Telecom’s Orange as having x subscribers, it is important to distinguish whether or not you are speaking of France-only numbers, whether or not IPTV and DTH are both included, if they are considered separate subscriber bases, and so on.  Distinctions must also be clear and consistent.  Putting together a table of the world’s top 10 pay-TV operators loses meaning if the UPC Broadband (Liberty Global) subscriber base is presented in aggregate across all countries in Western Europe, while the DirecTV number does not include LATAM subscribers.  It loses even more if UPC’s Eastern European business unit is ignored. 

Operators frequently make analysts’ lives difficult, as they have various agendas behind the way they choose to present subscriber data, if they choose to disclose at all. Frequently, operators will present subscriber numbers as RGUs, or they might count the number of set-tops deployed, or they might do any number of things with their data.  That’s what makes us market analyst’s jobs important.

One way of making our lives more sane is to ensure the foundation our forecasts are built upon is rock solid.  For if it is at all sandy, within a year or two, the forecasts will wither away, and a consistent accuracy is lost.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Industrial Analytics
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
IIoT: Operations & IT
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me