Technology I would like to see happen…..
The Q-Pad for Researchers
I was passing by the MR cell today and saw a mammoth stack of filled-out questionnaires lying on a table. These were the result of yesterday’s fieldwork involving 1200 respondents, mostly lower SEC from one city in India. Some had filled them out in Hindi, some in Marathi and few in English. This got me thinking that the MR industry in India probably prints trillions of such questionnaires each year, sometimes running into 75 pages each.
In the cyber-age, isn’t it a bit wasteful to use up so much paper; not to mention the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions with all that printing? Promptly, I was supplied with the reasons for this being a necessary evil in a market like India- the huge cost involved in arming field-workers with laptops, trust-deficit, damages, the weight of the equipment, the average field-worker being poorly educated.. and so on.
This got me thinking that wouldn’t a very basic version of an I-Pad be ideal for market researchers? Imagine the convenience of carrying something as light as against tomes of paper. There are obvious advantages of having trained field-workers entering data and a large part of data warehousing and cleaning taken care of. The whole data-entry process is eliminated, thus reducing chances of error and saving huge amounts of time. Analysis can now focus on exactly that, better analysis.
Coming to the biggest roadblock of cost, wasn’t there an article about Indian researchers having invented the world’s cheapest laptop, one that would cost $35?
My wish list then includes a very basic laptop for market researchers. This does not need to be net connectable, but needs to be able to upload finished questionnaires, perhaps through a USB port. It needs very basic computing capability and memory- let’s say 1000 questionnaires, for up to 10 surveys at a time. It should be light, but hardy and can be of a smaller size than the I-pad even. My Q-Pad would only throw up 1 question at a time and everything will be very intuitive, so that a field-worker with a class X education can easily handle the equipment.
Coming to the trust and damage part, the field-worker will need to fund the cost of the Q-Pad with part pay deductions. Thus, the Q-Pad is his and he is encouraged to treat it with care.
Imagine what you can do for the environment, researchers !!
This blog post is written by Radha Arakkal, Insight Consulting Partner & Practice Leader – Marketing Science & Data Mining, Brandscapes Worldwide
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