The Opinionmeter Story: 40 years of innovation
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 mechanical 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 the small form-factor of the new electronic calculators and their long battery life to be ideal for the new ‘brain’ of his smaller, more nimble Opinionmeter. 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 Opinionmeter’s hardware by integrating it with PC-based software tools. The first iteration of the PC-based survey software was called the “Opinion Analyzer” and developed to enable survey design and data analysis through the PC without having to go to the survey 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 dial-up modem within the kiosk enclosure. With the introduction of a modem, customers could now dial into their remote Opinionmeter 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 from any PC; and then the Internet arrived!
Around this time – the late 90’s, the worldwide web came into existence, representing the perfect platform for delivering software remotely as a service (aka ‘SaaS’ or ‘Cloud-based services’). Now, Opinionmeter customers no longer needed to install software locally onto their PC’s but instead could use the software through any browser. At this time, Morgan moved the PC-based Opinion Analyzer software to a web-based application called the SurveyManager. With the SurveyManager and web-enabled Opinionmeters, access to real-time survey data from the customer’s “Point-of-Experience” was possible for the first time!
In mid 2005, with the introduction of all-in-one touch screen computers – Opinionmeter moved away from manufacturing its own Opinionmeter hardware and focused exclusively on software development. As of today, Opinionmeter’s R&D is focused exclusively on its cloud-based survey platform and mobile survey apps – maintaining maximum device independence. Now, Opinionmeter software can run on all hardware devices – from mobile smartphones and tablets devices all the way up to full multimedia kiosks.
From its early years as a survey kiosk manufacturer, to its current incarnation as a leading cloud-based customer experience platform, Opinionmeter has always been focused on one critical challenge – how to access spontaneous real-time point-of-experience feedback.
Over the past 40 or so years of constant evolution, there have been many Opinionmeter product iterations, each using new technologies as they became available. Currently Opinionmeter’s survey platform supports a wide variety of feedback channels for capturing real-time customer experiences, including:
- Mobile Survey apps
- Mobile-web Surveys
- Survey Kiosks
- Tablet Surveys
- Online Surveys
- Scanned Paper Surveys
Opinionmeter International is a survey and data capture technology company specializing in cloud-based customer experience engagement. Our innovative products provide multiple feedback channels designed to listen and learn from customers, improving business results through better user experiences.