Prashnam: The Story and the Science (Part 6)

How Prashnam Works

Prahnam’s secret sauce lies in the way it combines the science of surveys with technology. An AI (Artificial Intelligence) engine helps select the people to be sampled. Prashnam ensures that the spread is as wide as possible to ensure the sample is as representative of the underlying population as possible. These people are then called on their phones and their input is sought using an interactive voice response (IVR) system. Since not everyone responds to incoming calls, care is taken to ensure the sanctity of the sample. The calling process is very scalable, and thus thousands of calls can be made in a matter of minutes. Results are visible in real-time. And what’s more, Prashnam allows for verification for a small subset of the numbers called – they can be called manually and queried on their response, which can be compared with the answer they gave earlier to the automated call.

Consider the alternatives:

  • In-person survey, where agencies need to train and send people across the country, and then do data entry. While they can ask many more questions through a longer survey, this method is time-consuming and simply not scalable.
  • Telecalling, which is used by most political parties, involves the use of massive call centres. There is a lot of manual intervention leading to mistakes. It is also not easy for them to ensure stratification. As such, the answers are unlikely to represent the true voice of the people.
  • Online surveys, which are becoming popular, cannot get a picture of true India at all. The sample is inherently biased towards an urban, younger population.

Prashnam has advantages different from traditional and online methods. Its IVR system with the AI-based sampling ensures speed, scale and stratified sampling. Automation in the entire process eliminates all sources of errors. Its use of the mobile phone ensures spread, and eliminates urban and youth bias. Prashnam thus offers a true representation of the opinions of “real India.” And by doing this at a fraction of the cost of other methods and at a speed that ensures surveys can be done in under an hour, Prashnam’s feedback engine is a disruptive innovation – in the same vein that Google’s search engine was.

To this, Prashnam has added ease: an end-to-end Do It Yourself (DIY) capability. Any individual can record the questions right from the phone or the desktop, and launch the survey – without having to rely on any human interface. The hope is that this will massify the use of surveys for decision-making. Media professionals, researchers, academics, politicians, business managers, NGO leaders – everyone can now rely on data-driven inputs rather than instinct to better understand what people are thinking.

Tomorrow: Part 7

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.