Tim is a world-renowned specialist in the application of technology in the field of market and opinion research and is probably the most widely-published writer in the field. His roots are in data analysis, programming, training and technical writing. These days, as principal at meaning he works with researchers, users of research data and technology providers around the globe, as an independent advisor. He is quite passionate about improving the research process and empowering people through better use of technology.

The prize for Confirmit is a dedicated app for online/offline mobile interviews, to integrate with its other web-browser offerings

Not one but two technology acquisitions in the same week: Confirmit, providers of one of the most widely used web interviewing platforms for research agencies, announces it is buying mobile survey specialist Techneos, while Kantar Group acquires panel and technology provider GMI.

Robert Bain covered the GMI acquisition in a blog piece in Research Live. My focus here is on Confirmit and what it plans to do with SODA, Techneos’s flagship software product for both self-completion and interviewer-administered surveys on smartphones and handheld devices.

Confirmit’s chief technology officer Pat Molloy tells me: “The basic plan is the same as with Pulse Train… to bring the functions of Techneos SODA and all the best features into our Confirmit Horizons platform.” Techneos will be rebranded as Confirmit in the New Year, and Confirmit will be adding to Techneos’ development resources in Vancouver to start work on building an integrated platform. Existing SODA users will see development continue on the existing SODA platform in the short term, but eventually it will mean a switch to Confirmit for them.

“We hope we’ll do a good enough job that existing SODA users will want to move over. We are not going to mothball SODA for a considerable time,” says Molloy. “But eventually we will want to roll those customers over at no charge on to the new platform.”

Confirmit has recently added pretty advanced support for mobile research on smartphones into its flagship Horizon software. What it lacked was a dedicated app for mobile that could be run natively on the mobile device – surveys were still delivered via the device’s web browser and required a stable internet connection. Using an app offers many different benefits. I’m presenting a paper at the forthcoming ASC Conference in Bristol on the very subject (and will share the link to the paper after the event). There are pros and cons in each approach, but an app allows for much greater sophistication in survey design.

Techneos has been providing mobile apps before we even understood the term – starting with its interviewer-only Entryware product, originally designed for Palm Pilots. Techneos had appeared to lag behind on mobile self-completion until it brought out SODA at the end of 2008, which was a big leap forward.

Entryware, however, will be left to wither on the vine, on the premise that SODA provides most of its functions. This will be unwelcome news for any Entryware customers that have not yet switched to SODA, as they will be faced with two migrations.

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