Entrepreneurs’ wishing to find out the market opportunities, favorite products, likes or dislikes among customers can use a data collection tool called msurvey. Through a mobile phone or computer, entrepreneurs can use this do it yourself platform to survey the market or customer base to find answers that would inform their business.
Available data from msurvey has other features including migration patterns of Kenyans and reasons therein for the past 30 years. This would help an entrepreneur understand how to continue capturing his or her customers even when they change their geographical location.
The research tool uses large scale SMS (Text Message) mobile surveys and interactive mobile applications to collect, visualize, and represent data across emerging markets. It also solves the problem of connecting with difficult to reach communities to assess impact and follow community trends in real time.
mSurvey was developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a technology used to connect directly to all telecommunication and network providers, enabling the connection between clients and their customers. The data collected helps clients, like entrepreneurs understand trends of customers through a wide variety of automated interactive experiences on any mobile phone, which allows data collection from real people, in real place, in real time; bringing data to life.
Samuel Kamande the msurvey data analyst said
“You do not need to install it on the phone. We have a mobile app coming up soon. As of now, the maker of the survey needs a computer but the respondents don’t. You as the DIY client will sign up on the web interface, make the survey, specify a join code and activate it. The prospective respondents do is text the join code to the DIY number and answer the survey questions interactively, whether multiple choice or open ended.”
It costs an entrepreneur sh7 per response. This amount covers for the respondents, such that they are not charged for answering the survey questions. Once a person has an account, he or she can make surveys whenever they want as long as the account is topped up. All you need to do is use different join codes for each new survey. There are a number of considerations made depending with the kind of sample needed. Kamande said
“If it is a bulky number, we give some special add-ons and exceptions on cost et al.”
Msurvey have an arrangement with safaricom through mpesa. Through it all a person needs is to pay using the pay bill option depending on the size of your survey in terms of questions and respondents needed. This pay bill number is provided once a person opens an account with them. Respondents text to the join code to that number to participate in the survey.
The sampling is done by the client, the creator of the survey. The respondents can be from anywhere in the country, as long as they have a mobile phone. The company also introduced basic sampling guidelines to the platform. This equips any prospective user with basic statistical knowledge to help in sampling.
Kamande is certain that msurvey offers entrepreneurs value for money in terms of what it exactly does. He asserted
“we already have more than 60,000 responses for our in-house surveys, which is a pretty high number. The new product means that surveys will be made by many people, and not only mSurvey, which means that it, can only go higher. We have been doing projects for several clients around the world including East African Breweries and World Vision in Kenya, as well as our own surveys to accumulate data and solve common problems.”
Critically the only account a client needs to open is the DIY account. Thereafter the client will be topping up your account via M-pesa when it goes low and you need to carry out a survey. The surveys a client makes can be performed on anyone in the country. The geographical and gender stratification will depend on the client’s objectives. This can achieved that by determining who participates in the survey.
The minimum balance an entrepreneur needs is zero. There are also no restrictions on who can open an account. This is because the data to be collected can be used by another client by using the available database. Previously, the company used to collect data for every other client. While they still do so, they have accumulated data that a client will not need to search for new data to use as sample in their research.