Research firm teams up with UNCW
June 8, 2012By Andrew Gray
University of North Carolina at Wilmington students with an interest in studying consumer behavior now have a chance to get real world experience working with data from some of the world’s biggest brands.
OpinionLab, a Highland Park, Ill.-based company that collects and processes customer feedback, has formed a partnership with UNCW to expand their research capabilities. According to the announcement, “the new partnership empowers student learning and faculty research to advance the state of the industry, and creates new connections between UNCW and local technology leaders.”
“UNCW students and faculty are known for their knowledge, excitement and excellence,” Rand Nickerson, CEO of OpinionLab, said in the press release. “This drove our recent decision to open a new office in Wilmington, and we’ve already benefited from our strong relationship with the UNCW community. As a company built on research and innovation, we’re excited to take the next step and establish a formal partnership with this great institution.”
Community partnerships are a key element of UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller’s vision for the university, according to the press release, and the agreement with OpinionLab resulted from Miller’s focus on community partnership initiatives.
The partnership will include six-10 paid summer research grants with OpinionLab for UNCW students and the creation of a four-member data analysis team of UNCW faculty to serve as an advisory council to OpinionLab, as well as student mentors. The partnership also will feature funding for graduate-level student research focused on data analysis, access to OpinionLab’s enterprise customer feedback system to be used in the classroom and incorporation of customer service surveys through mobile applications developed by faculty member Ron Vetter and students.
“We collect a tremendous amount of data. Collecting data is half the battle - making that data actionable is the more important half,” said Jonathan Levitt, OpinionLab’s chief marketing officer. “Anyone can collect data. What you do with the data is the differentiator.”
Levitt said some projects were client specific and some involved working with industrywide data. OpinionLab’s customers include Walmart, Bank of America and Ford Motor Co.
“We tend to be deepest in financial or retail,“ Levitt said. “We have half of the Fortune 100 on our client roster. All the data comes from customers of OpinionLab, not third-party data.”
Levitt said the new partnership was beneficial to both the company and the university.
“I think it allows us to work with students to train them and then have first pick when they get out of school,” he said. “It is exactly the type of student we want.”