Phil Hearn: Blogger, Writer & Founder of MRDC Software Ltd.

What is the best software to use for CATI?

As more and more market research surveys are conducted online, older technologies tend to stand still. Why? Because the software companies are racing to be leaders in the next big thing. This can leave a void meaning that older technologies don’t develop as much as they could. MRDC has sought to stay at the front for old technologies as well as new technologies.

Technology often stands still

We’ve noticed this in two fields – cross tabulation software and CATI software. Whilst we are active as a company in the online survey field and other newer technologies such as MROCs (market research online communities) and Social Media Analytics, we have not forgotten the importance of scripted cross tabulations and CATI software. We continue to make older technologies better.

CATI still alive

There’s a temptation to think that CATI is dead. Long live online. But that’s simply not true. In many countries throughout the world, CATI is still the preferred data collection methodology for 25% to 30% of quantitative research. That’s a significant amount of business.

Online software is not CATI software

Some software vendors will claim that their online survey software can be used for telephone surveys. The interviewer can just use the online questionnaire to collect the data. That might be true to a point, but CATI surveys need tools for managing interviewers, managing call backs, autodialling and a range of other features that are needed to run a successful CATI operation.

Different logistics

There is a logistical difference between an online survey which is effectively lots of separate surveys being self-completed by as many people as choose to answer and a CATI survey where there is a supervisor, interviewers and a sample, which all need managing.

What’s new in CATI from MRDC?

The core development of many CATI system was carried out before the year 2000. That’s a long while ago now. Things such as autodialling, not contacting respondents too often and, more recently, data privacy have become important things that CATI software should handle. We have taken all these topics seriously – the most recent being the encryption of telephone numbers so that lists/contacts cannot be stolen.

Hardware gets cheaper but…..

There’s a debate amongst software developers that runs along the lines that the faster computers get, the less efficient the software tends to become. This is because the power of the computer can reduce the need for more sophisticated software development techniques. Again, a lack of development may mean that there is a reliance on hardware.

QPSMR CATI doesn’t need high spec hardware

Since the 1990s, we have provided QPSMR CATI to many companies around the world. One of the key features of QPSMR CATI is that the way controls interviews so that you do not need an expensive high specification server. Indeed, one of the reasons some clients have moved to QPSMR CATI is because of the low hardware costs.

Why does QPSMR CATI need less powerful hardware?

QPSMR CATI only communicates with the server at the beginning and at the end of each interview. While the interview is being conducted, the processing is taking place locally on the interviewer’s own computer, which can be low spec and inexpensive. This means that there is no chance of any lag in the flow of the interview with the respondent. This technique means that you do not need high performance servers to ensure that there is no lag during the interviews.

The software keeps developing

But, it’s not only the low hardware cost. QPSMR CATI is constantly being improved and, indeed, a major upgrade is in development right now to ensure that CATI can be conducted efficiently and cheaply in the future. If you think CATI is dead, then this might not be for you. Indeed, some companies only conduct online research, but CATI is likely to be around for a while yet even if it’s share of business slips a little.

Some of the advantages to using Companion for CATI are:

  1. You can create a sample data file directly from Excel without having to make a CSV file first

  2. You can reserve serial number range for additional records

  3. You can include a link to complete the interview using an online system

  4. You can control which buttons are available to the interviewer

  5. There is an option to hide telephone numbers from the interviewer

  6. You can control the range of failure responses for appointments and dead sample

  7. There are improved CATI reports

Want to know more about QPSMR CATI?

We can explain to you how QPSMR CATI will work effectively using our proven technology which comes at a competitive price. And, what’s more, it will continue to be developed to make sure it is the best solution in the future.

For more information, contact