by June 8, 2006 0 comments

Data Acquisition for Market Research using PDAs is an
innovative and large-scale implementation of bringing down the audit cycle time
from 18 to12 days. ACNielsen has implemented this practice of automated field
data collection in their Retail Measurement Services division that conducts
retail audits. Around 700 field auditors are spread across 173 locations that
cover as many as 65,000 retail outlets. Before going for this implementation,
they used to first send out pre-printed schedules to the field force. These
schedules provided information to the field officers on which outlets to visit.  


Retail audit cycle time was as high as 18 days

Roll out PDAs to field staff, preloaded with an application for data collection




HP iPaq 2110 (750 series), Nokia IP 330 with Checkpoint, Embedded VC++
Akerkar Executive Director (ICT),ACNielsen ORG-MARG

The field officers would then note down all relevant
figures such as stock, sale/purchase from each shop they visited in these
preprinted books, and sent them back to their


processing center. Here, all data from across the country was compiled to
create reports for clients. This entire process involved handling enormous
volumes of paper work on a daily basis, required significant efforts, and was a
costly affair in terms of handling logistics and data entry.

While arming the field staff with a notebook each was a
good alternative, it was a costlier option. This problem was solved when they
rolled out about 700 HP iPaq 2110’s to each of their auditors. The PDAs come
preloaded with an application that enabled entering relevant data in a standard
format. This audit data collection software is developed in-house in Embedded
VC++ while the database is encrypted in Binary format. The backend server is
running an Oracle database. The auditors, after taking the data from various
retail outlets, upload it to a central FTP server. This is done from the
Reliance Web World centers the company has tied up with, or from dial-ups/cyber
cafes in remote locations. Now, the current scheme allows the organization to

audit more than 55,000 shops every month.

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