By Sundeep Kandel

Information can be found using two forms of research: secondary and primary. Secondary research is that which utilizes material and data that someone else has published, including periodicals, brochures, books, electronic publications, and more. This form of research may be the first path one takes when addressing a need for information. Primary research is research that uncovers information firsthand. It is research that produces new findings.

Secondary research materials are potentially the least costly, the most accessible, and the most complete sources of information. However, to take full advantage of the available materials, one must know for what he is looking and where and how to find it.

Today’s businesses rely heavily on statistical information. Not only is it helpful in the day-to-day business operations, but it is also helpful in planning future products, expansions, and strategies. Some of this information can be found in publications, especially those released by the government. An abundance of information is available online and can be seen long before it is printed. In addition, it is also obtainable through public and private sources.

In order to facilitate the collection and retrieval of statistical data for industry, the U.S. government developed a classification system called the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. Some of the basic comprehensive publications include the Statistical Abstract of the United States and Standard & Poor’s Statistical Service. These sources are a starting point when you are not familiar with more specialized sources. They include historical data on American industry, commerce, labor and agriculture; industry data by SIC(Standard Industrial Classification) and NAICS(North American Industry Classification System) codes; and numerous indexes such as producer price indexes, housing indexes, and stock price indexes. Additionally, the Statistical Abstract of the United States contains an extremely useful guide to sources of statistics.

Vast amounts of statistical information are available in today’s global and economic environment because of continual improvements in computer technology. To compete successfully and globally, corporate managers and decision makers must be able to understand the information and use it effectively. Statistical data analysis provides hands-on experience to promote the use of statistical thinking and techniques to apply in order to make educated decisions in the business world.