14 posts categorized "Surveys"


Behind the Research: 10 Tips for Survey Design

This post is the first in an upcoming short series of blogs called Behind the Research. Our Behind the Research series is intended to provide existing and potential clients with targeted insights into our some of our key methodological approaches pertaining directly to our data.  While this series is by no means exhaustive, our Analysts will lend their expertise and provide tips on methodological topics of interest and relevance.  If you have a topic which you would like to see covered in a future issue of Behind the Research, feel free to e-mail your suggestion to croche@vdcresearch.com or Tweet your suggestions to @VDC_Research.

Polls and surveys have the ability to provide significant insights into many areas of research and can often reveal hidden trends.  Whether used in politics or market research, surveys provide analysts with vital data for forecasts, predictions, and cross-cutting analysis of their desired topic area.  Many of VDC’s reports, whitepapers, and blog posts contain data provided from our custom designed surveys. 

The nature of VDC surveys allow respondents to provide information from an anonymous, protected vantage point, giving them the ability to respond freely with information regarding markets, business structures, and other strategic details.   However, before leveraging the capabilities of any survey, it should pass through rigorous planning stages to ensure that it is not only effective, but will also yield the best possible environment for accurate results.  This design process further solidifies internal and external validity, ultimately reducing Type I and Type II errors in the following analytics process.  While there are many strategies involved in survey design, this blog post will attempt to highlight 10 critical tips to keep in mind when designing your own survey.

  1. Outline First:  Overall, when designing a survey, it’s best to create a rough outline of how your survey will flow, the logic, and the block organization before programming it into your desired survey platform (Qualtircs, Survey Monkey, etc.).  This can save a lot of time during the revision process when changing blocks or re-order questions. 
  2. Create Fair Questions:  Know your audience and design questions to elicit a fair answer.  A biased question will give you biased answers.  Using leading questions or answers which clearly favor one response, will often result in heavily skewed and unreliable data.  When using Likert scales try to avoid terms like “Always” and “Never” in favor of terms like “Not Very Much” or “Extremely”.
  3. Limit Response Options:  Consider limiting the number of response options or design close-ended questions.  If you have a multiple choice question which asks participants to “select all that apply” and give them a list of ten (or more) items to assess, you will likely receive watered down data points and might miss trends due to aggregation.  In the case described above, respondents will generally select quite a few choices, but you can combat this through response control.  If participants can only select 3 or 5 options, they will provide more accurate responses. 
  4. Beware of Respondent Fatigue:  If you have a HUGE question, sometimes it may be best to break it into a series of shorter ones.  Participants will only give each question a certain amount of time before they become tired and move on.  So, if you have a question followed by a long list of Likert scale items, or one which requires heavy reading, participants will probably tune-out about half way through due to fatigue.  You can combat this phenomenon by making several shorter questions instead of one long question.  Limiting response options will also help prevent respondent fatigue.
  5. Attention Checks:  Always ask an attention check question.  This will allow you to quickly purge any respondents who fail this basic test in the data cleaning phase of your project.  You don’t have to hide this question; if people are not paying attention, then you don’t want them in your data anyways.  Be sure to insert the attention check question(s) in the middle or end of your survey to catch satisficers or flatliners.  You’ll be surprised at how many people actually fail a question as simple as this: Attention_check
  6. Page Breaks:  Be sure to put a page-break after lengthy questions or after two smaller back-to-back questions.  Too much information or too many questions on any one page can easily overwhelm respondents and increase fatigue.
  7. Organize Questions:  Put questions with the same theme or topic into the same block (organizational structure).  This way, respondents answer all the pertinent questions regarding one topic at the same time.  By focusing all of their attention onto one general topic at a time, they are able to provide more accurate responses.  This organization will significantly help when using survey logic tools as well.
  8. Use Survey Logic: Use “skip logic” and “display logic” to map out your survey.  This way, participants will only receive specifically applicable questions.  Skip logic will allow you to skip a question if a respondent does not meet certain criteria.  Display logic will allow you to only display a question if a respondent meets specific criteria.  While these tools many not be needed on simple surveys, on a long more complex survey, logic coupled with organized questions can save a lot of programming time.
  9. Fore Validation:  Remember to force respondents to answer questions which are essential to your data or which are important to the general flow of the survey.  Any question which is dependent on skip or display logic should receive this treatment.
  10. Test Your Survey:  ALWAYS test your survey!  You essentially want to try to break your survey by being the worst respondent possible.  This way you can catch any logic issues, organizational problems, or other errors which might be lurking before you launch to your actual target audience.  Also, feel free to give it to co-workers and let them try to break it too!

Cameron Roche received a dual B.A. in psychology and government & law from Lafayette College and his M.A. in political science, specializing in political psychology, American politics, and polling/survey methodology, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  He previously served as Assistant Director for UMass Poll and as a Research Assistant for the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES).  Be sure to look for future Behind the Research posts addressing other methodological aspects of survey work and data cleaning.  The author can be contacted directly at croche@vdcresearch.com or via his Twitter @Cam_Roche


Acquiring Direct Store Delivery (DSD) Optimization

Within the past week, the NASDAQ and NYSE witnessed the announcement of two major acquisitions:  Walgreens intends to buy Rite Aid for $17.2 billion and Snyder’s-Lance plans to buy Diamond Foods for $1.9 billion.  Even though Walgreens and Snyder’s-Lance reside in different industry sectors, they both heavily rely on direct store delivery; Walgreens to keep their pharmacies well stocked, and Snyder’s-Lance to stock their retail partners. 

Direct store delivery (DSD) is a system of selling and distributing a wide array of products in which the supplier delivers goods directly to the retail store, thus bypassing traditional distribution centers and warehouses.  Workflow integration within the DSD processes is often extremely complex and typically involves products which have high consumer demand or shorter shelf-lives.  Product lines which are regularly supported via DSD plans include baked goods, beverages, dairy products, ice cream, and other snack foods.  Other industries that frequently use DSD processes include wholesale distribution, gas, and pharmaceuticals.

In recent years, a primary hurdle for the DSD community has been the increased demand placed on mobile devices coupled with the constant need to optimize the numerous moving parts involved in the DSD process.  In a market space where spoiled, rotten, or out-of-stock goods directly impacts profits, employing mobile devices which are efficient and adaptable to the complex technological requirements of DSD applications is critical.  As such, those engaged with DSD must constantly assess their mobility solutions in order to keep their delivery operations running at peak levels.  A 2015 survey, conducted by VDC Research, found that three of the top five investment drivers are directly related to with the ideas of efficiency and adaptability.  These drivers include reducing order times, reducing out-of-stocks, and providing faster decision-making capabilities. 

Likelihood of Migrating from Batch to Real-Time DSD Processing


The vast majority of the DSD market is only now catching up to the significant advances seen in mobile and wireless technology.  Wireless coverage, performance, functionality, and cost of mobile devices are all factors which have drastically changed with little adoption into DSD systems  Through advances in mobile technology, DSD suppliers can now communicate with their drivers and with retail partners regarding inventory, payment, and customer support services in real-time.  Compared with aging batch-processing methods, WAN (cellular networks) connections or wireless DEX (Digital Exchange) support can significantly optimize every phase of the DSD structure.  The modernization of DEX from a hardwired solution, which required DSD drivers to carry a fragile and unreliable DEX cable, to a wireless Bluetooth solution greatly improves transmission reliability and reduces errors during communication.   A 2015 VDC Research survey revealed that DSD suppliers beginning to realize the opportunities presented by Bluetooth-based DEX and WAN.  70% of respondents indicated they are likely to migrate from batch processing to a real-time processing format within the next 2 years.  With increased migration to real-time solutions seemingly imminent, VDC expects the next generation of DSD solutions to address performance gaps and better support CPG operations.

Even though Walgreens and Snyder’s-Lance populate opposite sides of the DSD chain, the effects of emergent, real-time mobile processing features will be apparent for both companies.  They can expect to see more efficient customer support and faster response times to requests/inquiries.  More specifically, Walgreens can leverage their expanded reach to better optimize existing DSD delivery strategies by modifying routes to better coincide with Rite Aid and Walgreens locations.  Additionally, Snyder’s-Lance will be better positioned to react to real-time inventory information and will be able to consolidate Snyder’s products along with new Diamond products into the same DSD trucks and routes.  Clearly, if Walgreens/Rite Aid and Snyder’s-Lance/Diamond take advantage of new mobile technologies described above, they should see more efficient services and reduction in overall DSD costs.

Written by Cameron Roche, Analyst.  For more information, be sure to review our forthcoming full DSD report, set to be released in December, or contact us at info@vdcresearch.com.  The author can be contacted directly at croche@vdcresearch.com.  


Mobile Payment Market Welcomes Swiff

As the market gets flooded by mobile payment solution providers in the recent years, the receptivity for accepting mobile payments has increased. Based on our end-user research, 37.1% of the retailers claimed that they are either using or currently evaluating mobile payment/ POS solutions. While the interest for more consumer-oriented solutions such as location based services is higher, the security and compliance requirements for mobile payment solutions are a lot more complicated.

PayPal recently introduced PayPal Here in the past couple of weeks and is now a strong competitor to Square-like solutions that have been emerging. Last week, the market welcomed another entrant, this time an Asia-based solution, Swiff. The company offers secured mobile payment with its mobile card reader dongle. While the increasing competitiveness in the mobile payment market should be part of an another blog, we thought the Singapore-based Swiff was worth noting given the interesting approach they are taking.

Instead of directly targeting merchants (i.e. mostly SMBs) that are interested in accepting card-based payments, Swiff is partnering directly with banks and financial institutions. The company is not just building on the existing relationships that these organizations have with their clients, but also targets to earn their trust much more easily. So, instead of having a PayPal-like company accepting the payment from the customer and paying the merchant, Swiff is enabling banks to be the medium in accepting payments. Given the high demand for mobile banking in regions such as Latin America and Africa, as well as emerging country markets like India, we believe partnering with banks could be a good differentiator. It is also worth mentioning that the flat-rate business model that is followed by other providers like Square, PayPal and Intuit's GoPayment, that is roughly around 2.7% to 3% based on the solution provider could potentially be a better move than the varying rates applied by Swiff - which varies between 1.6% to 3%. It is interesting to see new entrants trying to distinguish themselves from the competition and we expect the mobile payment market to continue attracting such interest around the globe.


Can the FDA Regulate Mobile Device/ Applications Without Stiffling Innovation and R&D Spend?

The increasing number of smartphones and media tablets deployed to the health care environments, has resulted in an influx of mobile apps targeted for patients and health care professionals. While the success of Apple's iPad is the main driver for tablet deployments in the industry, multiple mobile OSes for smartphones and tablets have also flooded the market. Based on our end-user study that we fielded in 2011, 36.9% of health care respondents stated that their organization has evaluated and decided to deploy media tablets, with an additional 42.3% planning to evaluate. As a result of the rapid mobile device proliferation occuring in the health care industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently proposed a draft guidance to regulate mobile medical apps. With this proposal, the FDA sought to solicit input on some of the mobile medical apps that may represent a potential risk to patient health in case they do not work as intended.

While the general consensus is that the FDA should be regulating some of the mobile medical apps that are specifically designed and used for diagnosis and clinical treatment purposes; the gray areas that have been identified in the proposal could cause potential disruptions in the industry. The agency encourages the technological advancements and further development of mobile medical apps that can provide health care professionals with highly valuable patient information. Hence, some of the mobile medical apps related to medical devices have already been cleared by the agency prior to the proposal. However, it remains to be seen whether the FDA can actually keep up with the latest developments in mobile technology and ensure patient safety without stiffling innovation and R&D spend.

More information on the impact of the FDA on mobile developments can be found in our Research Note that will be published in the next couple of days. In the meantime, please click here to access our most recent QuickCast  - Taking the Pulse of Mobility in Health Care.


The Changing Face of Mobile Health Care

The increasing capabilities delivered by mobile solutions are causing health care organizations to evaluate the role of mobility in their organization and their interactions with medical professionals and patients. Organizations are not only aligning their mobile initiatives with their overall strategies but they are also evaluating whether they have the necessary resources to develop mobile health care solutions internally or whether they need to look for outside help. As the adoption of mobile health care solutions accelerates, some of the primary questions health care organizations must answer include who they would like to target with their mobile applications (i.e. health care professionals or the patients), what kind of capabilities they would like their solutions to have, and what types of problems they envision solving.

Based on our end-user questionnaire that we fielded in Q2 2011, the primary business initiatives that impact mobile computing solution investments include improvements in process efficiencies and customer service and satisfaction. Given the busy work schedules of physicians, clinicians and nurses, they not only would like to access the necessary information/ records anytime anywhere but they would also like to be able to have portable mobile devices that allow data input at the bedside. For the past couple of years CIOs and IT departments at health care organizations have been struggling with health care professionals bringing their preferred devices to work and asking for support. Demand for robust mobile security solutions continues to rise, and the numerous regulatory issues that impact the health care industry make ensuring the safety of patient records critical. While the BYOD trend has been picking up fast in other industries, more and more health care organizations are implementing mobile policies to gain visibility and control over costs, compliance, and the operational impact of their mobile assets.

Hc blog

Likewise, organizations see an opportunity in adopting next generation mobile solutions as they believe that they will offer them a competitive advantage in attracting the best physicians and nurses. Thus, the availability of patient-facing mobile applications is helping organizations to improve their customer service capabilities, as patients are eager to use tools that will allow them to enter and track their key health information and have their health care provider alerted should conditions that require immediate attention arise. Additionally, many health care organizations (such as Mayo Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) are extending their existing web sites and/or newsletter to enhance communications among their patient community. The capabilities of mobile applications have grown from tracking closest ER locations and wait times into allowing remote access to patient care, recording vital health care information and providing access to reference information all of which are speeding care delivery to patients. We see evidence that solution providers such as WebMD, Allscripts, Epic Systems and Epocrates are gaining traction with their mobile solutions both among patients and medical professionals.

Health care organizations are hoping to reach more patients and consumers while building awareness for conditions that could affect their health with mobility solutions. By investing in mobility solutions to improve customer service and satisfaction, health care organizations are hoping to engender loyalty, increase efficiencies and realize bottom line improvements. VDC believes that the increase in patient-health care professional communication and collaboration among health care providers can help in reaching these goals since demand for timely and high quality health care is on the rise.

More information on the developments in mobile health care solutions can be found in our EMOB 2011 Health Care Vertical Market Report that will be published next week.

BYOD Has Arrived

Organizations are getting used to the idea of individual-liable mobile devices in the workplace. As the advancements in technology made mobile devices (i.e. especially smartphones) a lot affordable for everyone, IT departments had to deal with the issue of protecting corporate information on the personal devices that happen to be outside their "control". Along with time, organizations and internal IT departments are becoming more welcoming towards these mainly consumer-grade devices, however, our data indicates that they are now putting mobile device policies in place to ensure the protection of sensitive information.

Based on our end-user survey that we fielded in Q2 2011, the majority of the organizations we surveyed stated that they have a mobile device policy specifically centered on smartphones in the workplace. In terms of industries, health care organizations came in with the highest % that have a mobile device policy (yes, even higher than government organizations) while field mobility organizations came in lowest. VDC believes that this number will only increase going forward as more organizations realize the possibility of sensitive information falling into wrong hands with a lost or stolen device, potential malware attacks directed to mobile devices, employees moving on to other jobs with your company's information on their mobile devices and not being able to control the use of unauthorized software on the personally-owned devices.

Byod blog
As for anticipated changes to the policy, we see organizations are getting stricter in terms of the mobile platforms and brands. While many organizations are accustomed to securing devices running on BlackBerry OS for the past couple of years, they are now being forced to provide support for multiple ecosystems (i.e. Android, iOS, Windows Phone 7). In addition to getting more specific in the list of eligible devices being provided to employees, organizations are moving towards the BYOD trend and away from the more traditional corporate-liable trend. Primary drivers to the BYOD model include achieving higher efficiencies and lower costs with partial reimbursement. Even though corporations were able to negotiate better rates with company-liable deployments, the number of employees that had mobile devices was a lot fewer since the devices were being assigned based on role in the organization.

The improvements made in mobile device and security management solutions enable more and more organizations to join the BYOD bandwagon. With the availability of these solutions, organizations are not solely relying on the common sense of their employees but can put encryption and technology enforcement into place which can include anything from written policies to remove wipe and lock. Thus, VDC believes that providing more education to the employees to raise awareness on device-specific security would be key to success to moving forward.

Also worth noting, is a topic we've written about recently on this blog is the dual persona solutions like Enterproid's Divide or BlackBerry's Balance that have emerged and may prove to be a very effective way of sandboxing work and personal mobile device profiles.


Underlying Concerns are Shaping the Future of Mobility Solutions in Retail

Retail is among the industries where the changing end-user requirements in enterprise mobility solutions are becoming clearer. VDC Research's most recent end-user study highlights an increase in cost consciousness among retailers. In the fieldwork that we completed in Q2 2011, cost and ease of use came in the first and second respectively among the top 3 shortcomings of the recently deployed mobile computing solutions. The shortcomings associated with both of these requirements appear to be much greater in comparison with other industries.


Retail chart 2 

While the cost sensitive nature of the market has been an ongoing theme for some time now, the advancements in the technology have made mobility more "affordable", both in terms of hardware and software solutions. With the shopping season approaching, retailers would like to reduce their cost structure as much as possible as they would have to equip at least a portion of their seasonal employees with mobility solutions. Since the increase in revenues is the primary driver for retailers to invest in enterprise mobility solutions, seasonality plays an important role for the industry. The concerns associated with the ease of use in mobility solutions, are not only applicable to the current employees but are also very critical for the seasonal staff. VDC believes that minimizing the cost and time required for training on the deployed solutions can be a crucial and key benefit for retailers. The improvements made to the UI functionality and user experience on some of the current and next-generation solutions coming to the market make the learning curve much less steep for new employees.

With the deployment of mobility solutions in retail environments, in-store associates are not only having more time to interact and engage with customers, but they are more empowered with extended mobile POS capabilities and the inventory and returns management applications. The issues that might arise in the integration with existing enterprise applications is concerning for retailers as they prevent the employees from spending more time on the retail shop floor assisting customers. VDC Research believes that the next-generation solution offerings will be more suitable for retailers with thin margins (e.g. big box and office supply retailers) as mobility vendors are beginning to introduce lower cost solutions to the market.

Changing End-User Requirements are Forcing Field Mobility Solution Providers to Invest in Customer Engagement

Mobile computing solutions have long been deployed, and are relied heavily upon by field service and sales organizations to improve productivity, enhance decision making and achieve real-time visibility. However, VDC Research's most recent end-user study (fielded in Q2 2011) highlights an increasing interest in enabling customer engagement in field mobility among organizations of all sizes.


While the heavy reliance on mobile computing solutions for minimizing manual and labor-intensive processes in inefficient workflows continues, organizations are closely studying ways to engage with customers throughout the process. VDC expects the demand for improved customer service to continue to increase given the effect of customer satisfaction, loyalty and referral on the increase in sales through repeat business and potential cross-selling abilities. Understanding customer pain points and delivering personalized services that build customer relationships and increase customer commitment to their company or brand is among the key requirements that should be built into the service and sales strategies of solution providers.

Please click here if you would like to read our latest research note on Field Mobility.


Field Mobility - Empowering the Mobile Workforce

Field mobility solutions provide enterprises with real-time visibility, enabling field mobility workers to engage with customers at the point of interaction. With the continued need to improve real-time decision making and increase productivity, the market for field mobility solutions is expected to increase from $14 billion to $23 billion by 2015. Employing an efficient and effective field service operation is already becoming a competitive differentiator for a lot of forward thinking organizations, and capitalizing on technological advancements will be a key opportunity for suppliers. Please click here if you'd like to listen to our latest QuickCast on Field Mobility.

Based on our enterprise mobility end-user survey that was fielded in Q2 2011, the demand for real-time product and customer information ranked the highest among the field mobility pain points. Whether we are talking about a field service technician or a field sales representative, the advancements in technology, along with the improvements made in wireless coverage, enable organizations to equip these field workers with the necessary solutions to be fully capable of resolving issues/ closing transactions at the point of interaction. More information about the recently published Field Mobility Solutions Vertical & Applications Market Report can be found here.


Survey Says: Mobile Managed Services have Arrived

We fielded an end-user survey to IT professionals, and line-of-business managers this past April and captured some very interesting market trends, perceptions, and attitudes surrounding deploying and maintaining a mobile workforce — end-users in organizations both large (65% of >$1B in annual revenue respondents) and small (52% of <$1B in annual revenue respondents) clearly stated that they were "very interested" in outsourcing a broad range of enterprise-grade mobility solutions.

Looking more closely at this "suite" of mobility solutions we saw that it ecompasses everything from device management and security, to application development, integration, billing / expense management etc. — in fact, we asked respondents to rate each of the items in the graphic below as to their level of priority for inclusion in a mobile service delivery platform — each rated >7 on a 10 point scale where 10= Most important.

 Self Service Portals, Device Monitoring, Mobility Assessment, Strategy Development, On-site Training, Billing Usage and Analysis Tools, System Design, Mobile Application Services, System Integration, Support and Maintenance, Network Spectrum and Security Assessments, Mobile Communication Services, Security Monitoring Management

Our data also clearly showed that the key drivers behind this receptivity were as follows:

  • Device proliferation ("bring your own tech")
  • Lack of in-house skills to support mobile applications and platforms
  • Simplifying the end-user experience and ensuring adoption
  • High expectations for costs savings

Considering these trends, we see enterprise environments as ripe for the adoption mobile solutions as managed service. However, we do see the increasingly complex channel relationships and the number of vendors “behind the scenes” participating on mobile solutions as a challenge for mobile focused vendors moving forward. 

The post summarizes several of the findings from our upcoming Mobile Managed Services Report