The Opinionmeter Story – 40 years of Consumer Market Research
In 1970, while completing his MBA at Pepperdine University, Bob Strickland needed to collect consumer market research data for his thesis paper and asked himself a simple question: how can I automate the collection of all this consumer data I need to gather? In that moment, the Opinionmeter concept was born. Working with the rudimentary technology of the time, he set out to build the first automated survey kiosk, resulting in him eventually being awarded a mechanical patent for his efforts. Keep in mind, this was about the time Hewlett-Packard were inventing the first electronic calculator, long before the PC. Available components at that time were a paper tape hole-punch to record the survey responses, a slide-projector to display the survey questions and a keypad for the input mechanism. The first Opinionmeter looked similar to a large television console on a stand.
A few years later the programmable calculator (HP48) was introduced and Bob found that the small form-factor of these new electronic calculators and their long battery life were ideal as the new ‘brain’ of his smaller, more nimble Opinionmeters. With the smaller calculator replacing the original bulky components (paper tape punch, slide carousel, etc.) it allowed the introduction of a full-range of compact survey devices, including mobile and handheld systems, as well as the popular survey kiosk.
About this time – early 90’s, Bob’s son Morgan Strickland became involved in the business – initially focusing on extending the capabilities of the Opinionmeter’s hardware by integrating it with PC-based software tools. The first iteration of the software was called the “Opinion Analyzer” and was developed to enable survey design and data analysis through the PC without having to go to the device to retrieve data or change the survey. The first release required a direct serial cable connection between the Opinionmeter and the PC. Later variations introduced remote programming by integrating a dialup modem. With the introduction of a modem, a customer could now dial into their Opinionmeters from anywhere in the world and program and/or retrieve their onsite survey data. This was a “watershed moment” – realizing the potential of remotely managing survey devices in the field, remotely from any PC; and then the Internet arrived!
Around this time – the late 90’s, the worldwide web came into existence and represented the perfect platform for delivering software remotely as a service (SaaS). Now, Opinionmeter customers no longer needed to install software locally onto their PC’s but instead could use the software through any PC with a browser. At this time, Morgan changed the name from the Opinion Analyzer to the SurveyManager. Now that the SurveyManager was available and the newer Opinionmeters were web-enabled, real-time survey data from the customer “Point-of-Experience” was available for the first time!
In the mid 2005, with the introduction of the all-in-one touch screen computers – Opinionmeter started moving away from manufacturing its own Opinionmeter hardware and focus exclusively on software development. As of today, Opinionmeter’s R&D is focused exclusively on client and server side software development – maintaining maximum device independence. Now, Opinionmeter software can run on most all hardware devices – from mobile smartphone and tablet devices all the way up to full multimedia kiosks.
From its early years of being a hardware manufacturer, to its current emphasis as a SaaS survey software company, Opinionmeter has focused on capturing real-time point-of-experience Consumer Market Research. Opinionmeter has always been focused on one critical challenge – capturing real-time point-of-experience feedback.
Over the past 30 or so years of constant evolution, there have been many different Opinionmeter iterations, each using new technologies as they became available. To this day, there are a wide variety of Opinionmeter survey software solutions and the list keeps growing.
- Survey Kiosk
- Survey Tablet
- Survey PDA
- Mobile phone surveys
- Online surveys
Opinionmeter now offers an automated and real-time survey software solution that can be run on a variety of hardware systems or exclusively online that provides insight into consumers’ subjective attitudes, evaluations and decision processes at the moment the customer takes the product off the shelf, or when she receives the service.