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Mike Richman

Quality Insider

Quality Digest’s 2013 Reader Survey

Who you are, how you work, what you like

Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 17:04

We are data-driven animals, and by “we” I mean all human beings, not just quality professionals. It starts from the moment we are born. The brains of babies are wired for exploration, surprise, inspection, analysis, and synthesis. The interpretation and use of conceptual information is what sets our species apart from all others on planet Earth.

All of which is a rather convoluted way of saying that we at Quality Digest recently surveyed you, our readers, asking a variety of questions about your preferences, your jobs, and your companies. We received a lot of data in return and, like a bunch of newborns, we’ve been eagerly trying to figure out what the heck it all means ever since. Now, the amount of information we gathered doesn’t come anywhere close to the realm of “big data,” but speaking on behalf of our team, I can assure you that it was plenty big enough for us.

As usual, some of what we learned surprised us. For example, it turns out that, when asked for your three favorite QD authors, just 3.6 percent marked, “Mike Richman.” However, 13.5 percent of you voted for Dirk Dusharme! What is this world coming to? I demand a recount, and this time, I plan to buy some votes.

Because there was a substantial amount of information in this survey, I won’t go through every piece of it in this overview. However, I want to point out some of the more interesting results, and tell you a bit about what we believe those results mean. I’ll also clue you in on what we plan to do about what we discovered and how this might affect you and your experiences with Quality Digest media going forward.

Who you are

First of all, you are readers of Quality Digest in some way, shape, or form, and for that you have our sincere appreciation. We are doubly grateful for those who took the time to complete and return the survey. Your feedback helps make us better.

Beyond that, who are you?

“What is your job function?”  (top three responses)
• Quality management: 41.2%
• Quality control/quality assurance: 22.2%
• Senior management: 7.3%

“What is your industry sector?” (top five responses)
• Fabricated metals: 8.3%
• Aerospace products and parts: 7.0%
• Rubber/plastics: 6.0%
• Government/military: 5.0%
• Electric and electronic equipment: 4.7%

“How many years have you worked as a quality professional?”
• Four or fewer years: 6.3%
• From five to nine years: 12.5%
• From 10 to 14 years: 16.7%
• From 15 to 19 years: 14.6%
• 20 or more years: 49.9%

These are questions that we ask pretty much every time we do a reader survey, and nothing here is particularly shocking. The automotive industry is no longer in our top five, but that has much to do with increases in other sectors, such as aerospace and rubber/plastics. Of course, that has been accompanied by a decline in our readership within the automotive sector, too, which is no surprise when looking at broader industry trends. Nearly half of our readers have been on the job for at least 20 years, which tells us a couple of things: First, that QD readers know their stuff; second, that many of you will be retiring in the not-so-distant future. This is why we so often write and talk about STEM education and the development of the next generation of quality and test and measurement professionals.

How you work

We know that most if not all of you are involved with your organization’s efforts to improve. For some, this means that you test and measure for a living; others may ensure compliance to ISO standards or lead kaizen teams. But whether you work in manufacturing, service, or transactional environments, you embrace a process-oriented approach to excellence, and rely on data to drive your strategic decisions, including what products and services to buy. We hope our content continuously provides ideas to help you do your jobs better.

Here are the kinds of decisions you make day to day. For these questions, more than one answer was accepted.

“Are you involved in your company’s lean efforts?”
• Yes: 73.1%
• No: 24.3%
• I don’t know: 2.6%

“What hardware products are you planning to purchase in the next 12 months?” (top five responses)
• Gauges, handheld (i.e., micrometers, calipers): 32.0%
• Calibration equipment: 17.3%
• Vision inspection equipment: 14.0%
• Scales and balances: 12.1%
• Gauges, desktop: 10.8%

“What software products are you planning to purchase in the next 12 months?” (top five responses)
• Statistical analysis: 18.9%
• Training: 15.9%
• ISO standards management: 13.3%
• Document control: 10.5%
• Supplier quality assurance: 7.3%

“What services are you planning to purchase in the next 12 months?” (top five responses)
• Calibration: 36.5%
• ISO standards registration: 24.5%
• Testing lab: 18.7%
• Quality management consulting/training: 13.6%
• ISO standards consulting/training: 10.5%

“How do you typically gather information on a product or service that you are planning to purchase?” (top three responses)
• Internet search: 87.8%
• Word-of-mouth/testimonial: 51.1%
• Face-to-face demo: 45.8%

“What type of device do you use to access Quality Digest media content?” (top four responses)
• Desktop computer: 64.3%
• Laptop computer: 53.0%
• Smart phone: 10.1%
• Tablet: 7.6%

We were impressed to see nearly 75 percent of you involved in lean activities at your organization. This tracks with our own anecdotal evidence, which says that the language of lean is increasingly woven into the fabric of quality-focused organizations.

Your purchasing plans reflect the broadness of the Quality Digest readership. Some of these products and services are highly strategic in nature, indicating that the quality function is closely tied to C-level oversight. Others are more immediate and linked directly to the needs of those on the production floor.

The information about how you gather information and access our content was particularly revealing. Internet searches continue to grow as a starting point for people looking for information. Given the thousands of on-topic editorial pieces housed at www.qualitydigest.com, our organic search ability and relevancy has never been higher. We’re doing more on social media, too, which makes us even easier to find on the Web.

And speaking of the web, more of you than ever before are surfing on your smart phones and tablets. No big surprise there. To put this into some context, however, when we first moved to online-only in 2009, fewer than 1-percent of you read us on anything other than a desktop or a laptop. In just a couple of years, we’ve seen more than an order-of-magnitude increase in the use of these mobile platforms. You’ll be seeing us do more to optimize our content for mobile in the coming months.

What you like

The role of a media company, like any organization, is to serve its customers. To do so, we need to know what you like so that we can continue, if not expand, those services. With that said, the following section was very illuminating. It changed some suppositions we had about the type of content and formats you enjoy.

Following are your not-so-secret media crushes, QD and otherwise:

“What social media do you use, and how often?” (For at least one usage per week, here are the top four answers; more than one answer was accepted.)
• LinkedIn: 52.7%
• Facebook: 50.3%
• YouTube: 41.2%
• Twitter: 12.1%

“Who are your favorite Quality Digest authors/contributors?” (Respondents could select up to three; here are the top five answers.)
• Mike Micklewright: 22.2%
• Don Wheeler: 22.2%
• Davis Balestracci: 16.6%
• Dirk Dusharme: 13.5%
• Denise Robitaille: 11.2%

“On a scale of 1–5, how would you rate our content?” (A ranking of 1 is “poor,” and 5 is excellent.”)
• 5: 21.1%
• 4: 60.1%
• 3: 17.3%
• 2: 0.7%
• 1: 0.7%

“What is your favorite Quality Digest web TV program?” (top three answers of those expressing a preference)
Quality Digest Live: 18.2%
Gauging Quality: 4.3%
Profiles in Quality: 3.1%

From these results, it’s clear that QD readers are savvy with regard to content—you know what you like, and you know how best to access it. LinkedIn is a terrific resource for business professionals, quality and otherwise. Twitter is another highly useful and a quick way to keep on top of news and opinion, but obviously not many of you are using it very much. Interesting.

It is also instructive to learn about your favorite writers. Don Wheeler, Davis Balestracci, and Denise Robitaille are all extremely well-respected experts within their fields. It’s no surprise to see them at or near the front of the list. QD editor in chief Dirk Dusharme is always popular. Tied with the eminent Dr. Wheeler for the top spot is another long-time QD contributor, Mike Micklewright, who, in addition to being a renowned writer, speaker, and trainer, is also partnering with us on a forthcoming video series concerning how to combine lean and ISO systems for greater efficiency and faster improvement. More information on the video series is coming soon.

It’s gratifying to see the popularity of our weekly web TV show, Quality Digest Live. If you haven’t yet seen QDL, you are in for a treat. We broadcast it live from our studio every Friday at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern. Hosted by Dirk and myself, the show is our opportunity to stretch out, look at our content in a broader way, and have some fun.

I speak for all of us on the QD team when I say how honored we are to have earned “excellent” or “near excellent” scores on our overall content from more than 80 percent of you. We’re going to keep striving to earn top marks from the rest of you in our next survey.

In the final analysis, surveys of this kind are enlightening and even entertaining. But they are only as useful as we make them. We promise to honor your support and feedback by acting on your suggestions. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to serve you. We look forward to continuing this journey of excellence together.

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Mike Richman