Getting students to dive deeper into the data is what Malcolm Howe likes best about working with Niagara College’s Research & Innovation Division.
Howe has been involved with Research & Innovation since its beginning, when he worked on college-based research, such as course evaluations, and helping interpret the results of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) surveys, which measure student satisfaction. He helped the college navigate away from paper-based evaluations to mobile and online reporting, developing a new software application called Nform, which digitally records data on mobile devices such as iPads.
These days, Howe and the business team, including student and faculty researchers, work primarily with small- and medium-sized businesses in Niagara to enhance their business plans and marketing capabilities (business services). This usually involves quantitative market research (surveys most often) for the research associates, and then analysis and reporting under Howe’s mentorship.
For example, his student team recently surveyed visitors to the Niagara Icewine Festival. The data will be analyzed to assist festival organizers in refining the event for future years, but also to demonstrate to the festival’s various funding agencies that the dollars have been well-spent. Howe hopes the project will see expansion into the main Niagara Wine Festival as well.
Howe knows the marketing research conducted under his watch doesn’t make or break small- and medium-sized businesses in Niagara, but he will proudly proclaim that the reports have helped make each company conduct their business better.
“In the end we are about innovation not invention, so this is about commercializing what the industry has to offer, determining how we get there, and showing local companies how to take advantage of our business services.”
He recalls the partnership with Niagara Oast House Breweries as a great example of what collaboration can do. Oast House needed marketing services, but at the same time, the students involved in the project expanded their learning and skills by developing a social media manual, explaining the four major types of social media.
Howe, who holds a BA in economics from Brock University and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, currently teaches marketing research, marketing management and international marketing.
In his spare time, Howe likes to travel, especially when the destination involves the opportunity to see the country by mountain bike. He loves the recreational sport so much that he has written two destination guidebooks for mountain bikers, for Moab, Utah and for the province of Ontario (look for the nom-de-plum “Rider Mel”).