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

Why MRDCL for crosstabs/tabulations?

MRDCL is one of a few software products that allow data processing professionals to efficiently produce volumes of crosstabulations, crosstabs, tabulations, tables or whatever you call them using a scripting language. While hundreds of software products are available for market research and surveying businesses, there are few scripted tabulation software programs. This begs four big questions:

  • Do I need a scripting language for crosstabulations?
  • Is MRDCL the best scripting language for crosstabulations?
  • Is MRDCL competitively priced?
  • Is MRDCL the right product in an ever-changing market?

If you think the answer to ANY of these questions is NO, then MRDCL is not the right product for you. Let’s see if we can meet these challenges.

Do I need a scripting language for crosstabulations?

This question will likely screen out more people than the other three together. Let’s be blunt here. There are some good reasons not to use a scripting language. This may not be an exhaustive list, but it covers 90% or more of those companies that should not use a scripting language. Here they are:

  • Low volume of surveys requiring crosstabs
  • Sporadic or irregular workflow
  • Only handling simple surveys requiring simple survey analysis
  • No staff with experience or an aptitude to learn a scripting language
  • Only handling regular requirements, which a non-scripting language product can easily produce

When to switch to scripted tabulation software like MRDCL?

Is MRDCL the best scripting language for crosstabulations?

OK, so now we move into the area of a software supplier claiming that its product is best of class. It won’t surprise to know I am going to make that claim, but let’s summarise the reasons for this:

  • Pseudo-competitors that can use programming languages (like SPSS) only have a fraction of the tools MRDCL has ready-to-use
  • There are few competitors and no new players in the market
  • MRDCL is the most actively developed product on the market
    • Quantum ceased development around 1999, except for a fix to run under Windows
    • Merlin stopped development around five years ago
    • Uncle has few upgrades and little product info
    • There is no product (to the best of my knowledge) that has anything close to the power of MRDCL
  • No other scripting language has a whole library of videos for learning, supporting, accelerating knowledge or handling complex tasks – in fact, the others have almost nothing.
  • MRDCL handles any crosstabulations
  • MRDCL is more productivity-focused than its competitors, realigning its development many years ago to take account of increasing labour costs worldwide
  • MRDCL fits into modern data processing needs – automation, connecting with other software, etc.
  • MRDCL can be used as an engine within your own systems or solutions

Is MRDCL competitively priced?

We can’t be certain about the pricing models of other products, so for this topic, let’s stick to MRDCL’s pricing and value. Here are the key points to consider here:

  • When I see many platforms for market research priced at US$10,000, $20,000 or even $100,000 per year, I can’t stop thinking about how competitively priced MRDCL is, particularly when I see the limited scope of some platforms.
  • For example, a team of five people can use MRDCL for under GBP7000 per year, with discounts in most lower-cost economies and discounts for multiple-year licences.
  • MRDCL comes with a freely distributable product (called Resolve) that allows colleagues or clients to interactively produce tables and charts from your surveys. That’s right. Free.
  • The productivity tools in MRDCL will mean you reduce staff time. Clients transferring to MRDCL have anecdotally reported productivity gains of between 30% and 75% over other competitor products.
  • MRDCL has a proven track record of making data management easier and cheaper – for example, taking data from your favoured online data collection platform.

Is MRDCL the right product in an ever-changing market?

OK, so we are back to topics where a software supplier is making claims, but look at some facts instead:

  • When staff costs increased worldwide around 2000 (and computing costs were reduced), we focused our development on staff productivity – and succeeded!
  • As surveys switched to online, we developed tools to automate producing crosstabs and linking to other platforms.
  • Clients demanded that we link MRDCL to PowerPoint to automate reporting – this module will be completed soon and available as a low-cost add-on.
  • MRDCL has complied with Triple-S and SPSS standards for many years, making integration seamless. Adopting TSAPI, an API for market research, ensures modern data data management techniques are available.
  • Our video library is unmatched for providing training, guidance and recommended approaches to more challenging tasks.

Does this mean that MRDCL will continue to meet the needs of an ever-changing market? No, it doesn’t prove it will, but our history shows how we have responded to meet market needs. We, of course, fully intend to keep progressing MRDCL and meeting market needs.

3. Should I buy an all-in-one solution?

I fully admit that I generally dislike all-in-one systems that, in theory, do everything from collecting data to delivering results. There are two reasons. Firstly, most have a weak component, but secondly, they are seldom future-proof. I don’t need to tell anyone in the market research or insights industry that the business has changed rapidly in the last five to ten years. Do you think it will stop changing? Of course, not. An all-in-one system is far more likely to develop a weakness as the industry changes. For this reason, I always prefer software that connects well to other software so that you have the right combination of tools available. Having said that, if an all-in-one system does just what you want for the foreseeable future, such a platform may be the right choice. I would still recommend ensuring that any software you use connects well to most other systems.