Crosstabs, tabulations or tables, call them what you will, have always been at the heart of much market research and insights analysis. Every month, it seems, I find a new platform for market research that collects data or produces tables and charts. However, I notice that the tools for tabulations are often limited and inflexible in terms of what you can generate.
MRDCL: its raison d’etre.
I am strongly against software companies that oversell and promise that their products can do more than they say. With this fully in mind, I am comfortable saying that our cross-tabulation software package, MRDCL, can produce anything. By this, I mean more or less any tables you want from almost all data formats encountered in market research. MRDCL uses a scripting language to achieve this with a vast set of tools offering multiple approaches to different analyses you might want. I won’t go any further than that at this stage!
Major survey platforms have weaknesses
The inspiration for this blog article comes from one of surprise. Within the last few months, I have come across the companies behind three different platforms (I’ll let them remain anonymous) make what seemed big announcements. These announcements were:
The inclusion of significance tests
The ability to handle target weighting
The ability to analyse hierarchical data
My reaction to these enhancements
To be honest, these product announcements surprised me. Why? Because MRDCL has handled all these things effectively since 1990 (maybe, earlier, I forget!) – and, in the case of target weighting, far more effectively. This revelation led me to realise that the arrival of new platforms are often inadequate. Although they often deliver dashboards, they do not have the maturity to have a powerful and flexible tabulation engine at their core. Many platforms are catching up with things we nailed 30 years ago. This comment is not a criticism of the platforms per se but a realisation that most platforms need far more power to deliver tabulations.
Could your platform gain from integrating with MRDCL?
A company that has already integrated MRDCL into its platform contacted me recently. Their question was to determine whether we had a way to provide standard deviation and standard error calculations to statistical tests of tables or whether we had to program something specially. Their need had arisen from a client who needed it urgently for a particular client of theirs. I was able to tell them what ‘magic code’ would enable them to do this such that they were able to update their platform and deliver the upgrade the same day. Similarly, adding significance testing took just two hours’ work to add to their platform – and not only the most commonly-used significance testing – four or five variants were instantly available as well.
Using MRDCL as an engine
Effectively, MRDCL is in use as an engine, and it’s a viable way for developers of platforms to provide highly featured tabulation tools to their clients. It also means that upgrade requests from clients or new features can be in place in a fraction of the time. So, let’s look at how this works.
From your database to MRDCL and back
The process is fairly straightforward. It’s a three-step process.
Step 1: From your platform’s database, you will need to drive out MRDCL script. MRDCL gives you two approaches that you can use. Firstly, you can drive out MRDCL syntax or secondly, you can drive out an Excel workbook containing all the specifications for your projects – the variables, the texts etc. In the second case, a generic customised MRDCL script reads the project workbook, which acts as a container for the project’s metadata.
Step 2: Your platform will fire off an MRDCL run that generates the definitions and analysis specified in Step 1.
Step 3: MRDCL delivers the results and easy-to-understand machine-readable form so that you can represent the results how you choose – as tables, charts or embedded in reports.
And that’s it!
Helping you to integrate
Step 1 will need some help from us unless you are an experienced MRDCL user. However, we will provide all the guidance you need to achieve this efficiently. As you can see from this website, there is no shortage of resources to make this as painless as possible. Strangely, to integrate with MRDCL is easier than you might think, as, with our guidance, you will be using the simplest, most effective way of linking your platform to our engine.
Step 2 is easy to implement. We have several ways to automate MRDCL and have a technical team ready to work with your developers to implement this.
Step 3 is fairly straightforward. Within 15 minutes, we can explain how you can take the results from an MRDCL tables run to present how you choose in your platform.
MRDCL as a white-labelled product
One of the more common questions is whether users of MRDCL can use the platform as a white-labelled product. We have no problem with this at all. Your clients need not have any knowledge that they are using the MRDCL engine within your platform.
Making you more responsive and able to expand
When integrated into your platform, the MRDCL platform gives you the capability to expand your platform as far as you wish. We are always on hand to suggest the best way of building the interface to MRDCL so that speed is optimised. Additionally, we will ensure that you maintain maximum flexibility if you want to increase your platform’s features later.
Pricing and terms
The pricing for using MRDCL as an engine is dependent on two things:
The number of users
The length of the agreement (minimum one year) – we do also sell perpetual licences
Our pricing pagegives indicative prices, although we can offer further discounts for a higher number of users. We are also willing to discuss perpetual licences.