Isn’t Technology Changing the Survey Landscape?

Technological advances in data collection, analysis, and presentation are increasingly influencing the way we carry out surveys, understand the data and their correlations and report the findings.

Analytics

A lot of analytical work is now made easy by a number of statistical packages. One can slice and dice the data almost at will. Because it is now easy, the correlations that we did not even think up a decade ago are now brought up with just a click of the mouse. Whether and to what extent they are really useful is an altogether separate question. Some correlations are evidently superfluous. If the packages did not enable their execution easy, any serious analyst would not have bothered to labour for them.

Once upon a time SPSS has dominated the landscape. However, it is not the in thing any longer. In fact, for basic analytical functions, it is overtaken by Excel. Excel has the ease of use and the learning curve is pretty flat. To some extent Stata is in vogue among those who straddle both survey data analysis and analysis of data from the physical and biological sciences. SAS is another competing programme. Each analyst has their own preference. Largely the preference is determined by early education, exposure to different programmes, their experiences and more importantly the preferences of the peer group.

Presentation

The findings of a survey are presented in a much more elegant manner, again because of the availability of a number of presentation programme softwares.

PowerPoint, Prezi, Ajaxpresents, Brinkpad, Empressr, Preezo, Presentationengine, Sliderocket, and Keynote are some of the more popular presentation programmes. PowerPoint still rules. But its dominance is now being challenged. That is only expected as it is now in the ripe old of 20+ years. Many new generation presentation packages are offering attractive templates, layouts, transitions and animations. 3D is set to increasingly dominate the presentations. Some of them like Prezi are introducing the ‘wow’ element into slides.

Data Collection

Data collection is also witnessing revolutionary changes. The investigator with a printed questionnaire and a pencil in hand may be on the way out. Questionnaires now on tablets connected to the internet.  And transmission of responses in real time to the analyst is increasingly in evidence. Surveys through emails and telephones and posing a question in the various social networking sites are now becoming widely practiced. Mobile devices and responses through sms are now the staple for television channels. The relative merits of each one of these methods, of course, are a matter of intense debate. We will take them up in our future posts.

All these advances have equipped organizations like us to collect data faster, analyze it better and present the findings smarter.

But they also can tempt some of us to be less diligent in data collection, indulge in superfluous correlations in analytics, and subordinate form to content in presentation.

We need to be vigilant about it.

 

One Response to “Isn’t Technology Changing the Survey Landscape?”

  1. September 30, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Very true Sir, not just business survey, but in every decision making processes, data analytics is becoming a norm. But it is sad that there is not even a single Indian company which provides a business analytics or database tools, which is very popular in world.

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