Survey firm says the PDA is mightier than the pen

Why did the young urbanite cross the road? He saw someone approaching with a clipboard.

Chevrolet Canada hit the streets in October and November looking to gather information about the lifestyles

of people aged 25 to 35 as part of its Chev and the City marketing campaign. But according to Richard James, GM Canada manager of product communications, this demographic isn’t keen to stop and fill out a survey while on the way to paint the town red.

The car company turned to Techneos Systems Inc. for a technology solution to the image problem. The Vancouver-based company creates mobile data collection software. Company president Mark Cameron says its suite allows clients to create, design, deploy and implement data compilation projects.

For four days a week over four weeks, Chev and the City marketers descended on Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver with Palm PDAs looking to coax young adults into answering a few questions.

“”The surveys themselves were very simple and interactive as opposed to just answering somebody’s questions. They were given the Palm and it was simple questions: yes or no, black or blue, car or truck kind of things,”” James says.

“”One of the things that we found doing the Chev in the City Program was that people tended to be a little more approachable because they were more curious about the technology.””

James described the process as expeditious and says it allowed the company to have a larger sample size in the amount of time.

Cameron says the process is simple. Users create the survey using the Techneos suite and then it’s downloaded to the PDA. Data is then collected on the PDA and uploaded to a computer or server where it can be analyzed. While the product has been used almost exclusively for surveys, he says it is moving into other areas of mobile data collection like “” inspections or appraisals or some types of inventories–anything where you would replace clip boards with a PDA.””

As far as system requirements are concerned, Cameron says you need a Palm running OS 3.1 or later and running Windows 95 or later. There is an enterprise class solution as well that runs on SQL Server.

Cameron says it has about 150 clients in 15 countries. And while it’s been primarily a research-focused tool, he says the product is vertical agnostic and it is pushing into other areas like customer data acquisition.

Comment: pipeline@itbusiness.ca

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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