I'm constantly looking for a good deal. If the features and flexibility are available in a product, there's nothing better than "free". For the holidays...and in preparation for 2010...Here are five software packages that I've run across that, with some thought and some tweaking, could enhance your market research product or market research service offerings.
(Warning - Some of this may take some involvement from your IT staff...be prepared.)
- The Standard Social Media platforms - Faceboook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Many market research organizations are using these to simplify some pretty standard market research tasks. Increasingly, I've seen organizations use them as market research recruiting platforms for face-to-face (or ear-to-ear) research respondents, using them as a launching platform for online surveys, gathering qualitative information about a product or a brand, etc. If you haven't set your company up on these media platforms...you should think about it.
- SocialSeek - Along those lines is a fun little piece of software called SocialSeek. SocialSeek is loaded on your hard drive and allows you to run a search on any subject you can imagine, in any city. The software returns all of the content on the Social Media webosphere related to that search. It's easy to download and install and the software is worth taking a look at.
- LimeSurvey - Speaking of online surveys...There are a million free (or very inexpensive) online survey platforms out there...with very little difference between them. For the most part they are commercial ASP products housed on the internet. LimeSurvey is different. LimeSurvey is an Open Source online survey platform, housed on your own internal servers, with many of the features of the full-blown (and expensive) research platforms sold in the Market Research industry. It's features are constantly growing because of the nature of open source software, it allows for translation into a host of different languages, and provides the security of housing your data at your own facility instead of through someone's online survey platform.
- Ning or Elgg - You've heard of MROC's (maybe you haven't)...MROC stands for Market Research Online Community...also called ORC...Online Research Community. These are market research communities that are created to address the qualitative (and sometimes quantitative) research needs of specific brands, companies, topics, or subjects. Members of these MROC's are typically interested, engaged, and willing to interact with others regarding the brand, company, topic, or subject which allows companies to collect market research information from engaged research respondents. Ning and Elgg are different software packages that help facilitate the creation of these communities. Ning is an ASP platform housed online, while Elgg can be housed on your local network and made available online.
- Rapidminer - I have to admit I'm new to this one and haven't explored it to the extent that I'd like. I stumbled on it while I was looking for something else. Rapidminer is a "Data Mining" software that appears to have a very wide selection of features. It also has a strong user-based forum that addresses concerns for the novice to advanced user.
I've been searching for two types of "free" or open-source market research software.
- The first is a qualitative response...open end...verbatim...coding software. More than once, I've thought I was very close to finding what I was looking for (RapidMiner...for example).
- The second is a way to pull content off the web, social media, blogs, etc. for qualitative research purposes. This is a slightly...taboo...subject because most "Content Scrapers" have been historically used for malicious purposes and are not easy to use. I'm looking for an "easy to use," free, scraper to be used for non-malicious purposes.
That's all for now...so...
- Have you run across any free software that would be intriguing for the market research industry to examine?
- What are they?
- What's missing from this list?