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Instant surveys to get hotter

How do you calculate the value of a US dollar in rupees? The old style is to look up the exchange rate and then multiply it, usually on a calculator. N Madhavan writes.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2011 20:29 IST
N Madhavan

How do you calculate the value of a US dollar in rupees? The old style is to look up the exchange rate and then multiply it, usually on a calculator. But now, you can simply go to Google and enter something like "xx US dollars in Indian rupees" and the search result throws up the latest figure - which automatically incorporates the updated exchange rate.

This is a very small example of what can be done in an emerging world of data analytics. In fact, analysis on the "cloud" or the Internet can be historical, in which case past data is drawn in to give a clear picture, or current -- as in the case of the exchange rate conversion I mention.

Some weeks ago, information technology research firm Gartner, looking into 2012, mentioned among other things next generation analytics and "contextual and social user experience".

What does this mean? One is the business of simulation and prediction of the future using both historical and current data. This becomes richer with the use of text, video and other data coming in from multiple sources (Think of Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia as rough-cut examples).

An even richer contextual approach is to customise such predictions for specific users based on usage patterns (easy example: Bookmyshow.com throws up movie halls closest to you based on where you booked a movie last time).

In Web development, a mashup is a web page or application that uses and combines data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services. Twitter, Google and Yahoo already capture "trends". Mashups and trends are set to get hotter.

Now, imagine a future where people vote or express their opinion through mobile handsets to online surveys that quickly generate the "People's Pulse" with a larger sample and even full-fledged elections in an instant. We are getting there.

I am not surprised therefore that last week Surveymonkey.com, which helps you quickly do online market research and surveys got a round of investment, that valued the company at $ 1 billion - that's Rs 5,250 crore - as it acquired a rival company, MarketTools.