Friday, October 12

Google Labs - Google Survey (Tool?)

Dear Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt,

First, I would like to congratulate you all for playing a revolutionary role in literally transforming the way mankind search, find, access and create knowledge in the 21st Century. Yes, without Google Blogger I would probably not be writing this online letter (Instead I would have probably used Wordpress!).

However, I am not writing this letter to praise Google, because that is already done by millions of supporters around the world. Actually, I am writing because I have been eagerly predicting (but still waiting!) for a specific Google tool (for more than 2 years! Yeah, if I had been proactive and had an entrepreneurial mindset I would be laughing financially today!) that I believe is critical for transforming the way we do research (or learn about others!), or more specifically create and conduct surveys, capture respondent data, and analyze the results/reports on-the-fly (read/write/research = Web 3.0?).

There are still millions of students and educators in the Schools, Colleges and Universities around the world who are doing research, conducting surveys and spending a lot of time collecting data, providing them often with little time to analyze and reflect the findings (critical/creative thinking aspect!). However, by providing them with a free easy-to-use online survey tool (alternative or complimentary option to their research) with basic features to create and conduct online surveys, collect the data, and display the results/reports in text and visual format (with exporting options to Excel, SPSS, etc.), could do miracles from an educational point-of-view.

From a business (or advertising) point-of-view it could also mean big bucks, because every survey respondent (and survey creator) would view their share of AdSense (text-based Google AdWords ads that are relevant to site content pages). For example, if one million people are conducting online surveys, and getting an average of 100 survey respondents (we are talking about 100 million respondents!). It wouldn't surprise me if we are talking about more than a billion respondents within a few months after launching such a tool.

Alright, I got to admit that there are plenty of excellent commercial and some reasonably good open source/free survey tools available today (e.g. we are using VTSurvey - an open source solution). Interestingly, there are some excellent partially free online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo. However, to enjoy the really juicy features, one would need to fork out the dollars. The pricing today on some of the commercial tools (e.g. SurveyMonkey) is reasonable, but then again why not make it free to all and generate more revenue through creative advertising approaches. I suppose if Google does not provide a free online survey tool in the near future, Yahoo or MSN would do it. If none of them, I am pretty sure a dynamic entrepreneur out there would facilitate the next frontier of the web, providing everyone with tools to do online research (A good example would be polldaddy, but they are currently only providing polling, which most existing widely used learning tools/portals/LMS already provide including Blogger).

Overall, I am a big fan of Google Labs and they have graduated some amazing tools including Google Reader, Google Notebook, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Video, Google Scholar and Google Groups 2. Also, Google Labs have many more amazing tools in the pipeline (e.g. Google Page Creator), but I don't see any online survey tool coming through yet (Hopefully wrong!). However, should Google want to do it fast, they can for example simply invest or buy SurveyMonkey and make all their wonderful features available for free. A good example to reflect would be JotSpot, which evolved into Google Docs (if I am not mistaken).

Thank you for reading and hopefully both students and educators in the near future can enjoy conducting their own surveys online easily and freely. Now, that would be a wonderful disruptive and innovative way to facilitate more research around the world :)

Warm Regards,

Zaid Ali Alsagoff

P.S. I don't know how (thinking about the millions of e-mails they receive!), but this online letter will eventually reach Larry, Sergey and Eric!


Florentin Badea said... survey software provides just the tool you are asking for: free survey software with unlimited response options (and google ads).

Kalle said...

Hi there,
actually Polldaddy has a survey tool also but with some limitations. I use SurveyPirate which is free, however still in Beta.