Luminoso Review: Elegant Visualization of Unstructured Text


This is a three-part series of reviews of MR tools you should be using but might not know about. Second is a review of Luminoso, an online solution that allows you to analyze the verbatim text of survey respondents.

Challenge: As the era of Big Data evolves, we are seeing more tools to deal with unstructured data. What is unstructured data? It’s the mounds and mounds of customer comments or open-ended responses or email complaints that you have sitting in a file somewhere. Who is ever going to dig through all of that to make sense of it? And should you bother? Yes, you absolutely should, as long as you are going to take some action based on what you learn.

Solution: What we need is a piece of software that can quickly identify themes in the data without requiring you to spoon feed it the meaning of every single word. In the olden days when we had to walk to school uphill both ways, the process of coding this data was so tedious that I actually hand coded 5,000 responses one time after I gave up on the coding software that we had at the time.

Capabilities: Luminoso is the best solution I’ve seen for dealing with these comments. It makes a visual map of the comments which allows you to quickly identify patterns or see comments related to a specific word. But what sets Luminoso apart is the additional data visualization available. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult to show unstructured data, but very few have done it as elegantly as Luminoso.  Another benefit is that it’s not absurdly expensive. Yes, there are costs involved, but they are reasonable for the time you will be saving.

Drawbacks: If you think you are going to dump your expensive, time intensive hand coding and get the same results with Lumnioso, you are very mistaken. That’s not a knock on Luminoso: it’s just the reality of dealing with computer analysis versus human coding. Text analytics versus Luminoso or its counterparts is not going to provide as much specificity, but it will be faster, cheaper, and probably more useful in the long-run.

Bonus: The Luminoso team is very flexible and can help you to understand the differences between hand coding and their analysis. Working with them to set your stakeholder’s expectations is a great way to solidify your relationship from the start.

Alisha Hamilton is the owner of Harvest Insights, an Atlanta-based market research consultancy. She is a moderator, teacher, writer, and accomplished speaker.


Speak Your Mind