Leveraging VR/AR and AI to take SurveyMonkey to the Next Level

Freeman Jiang
Nov 30 · 6 min read
The SurveyMonkey logo

The TL;DR on SurveyMonkey

For those of you who don’t know SurveyMonkey, the company started like many others — the result of having identified a problem and providing a solution to it.

Its founder, Ryan Finley, founded the company in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1999 upon being tasked to create a survey for his company’s user base and finding no adequate tools out there. Wanting to create a service he would use, he founded SurveyMonkey, a survey software that allowed its clients to ditch the traditional pen and paper route.

A disruptor in the industry, SurveyMonkey snowballed to become the cloud-based SaaS company valued at over $2 billion and used by 99% of Fortune 500 companies today. Clearly, it’s been pretty successful — but what if I told you they could be 10x better?

Using VR/AR and Haptic Technology to Give Experience as a Survey

But firstly — what does SurveyMonkey actually think a survey is?

Surveys are a conversation that you’re having with a very specific purpose and that you can have really efficiently at scale.
- Sarah Cho, Director of Research at SurveyMonkey

This makes sense. SurveyMonkey is trying to help people find the answer to a question, and they want to be able to do that no matter how many people are trying to give a response.

Right now, the primary way people are taking surveys is online, via a 2D screen. I think most people would agree this isn’t exactly the most authentic representation of most clients’ products or services. Enter VR/AR.

With VR/AR, SurveyMonkey could allow its clients to test their actual products with their consumers — all without having to give them a physical copy or set up an environment. As long as the user has the hardware, they can easily have access to the simulation.

Their users could then give feedback on how the product would look like and feel like in the real world. Instead of looking at it through a static image, or scrolling through a slideshow, users can examine the product in every desired angle. Clients of SurveyMonkey can figure out exactly which parts of their product are most appealing to their customers.

Furthermore, with augmented reality, users could see how the product would look like in the context of their own home. In fact, IKEA already implements this.

IKEA’s AR app in action

There’s no reason to stop there though. With the advent of haptic technology, users would be able to not only see products in the real/virtual world, but they would be able to feel them as well. Thus, without even having made the product, SurveyMonkey could help companies gather responses that never would have been possible before (eg. texture).

In other words, SurveyMonkey’s surveys wouldn’t feel like surveys at all, but comprehensive experiences.

Companies from all over would flock to SurveyMonkey to test their products because they wouldn’t even have to create prototypes or develop their own VR/AR tech. They would simply need to upload their product information and SurveyMonkey could simulate the product as if it was real — all while gathering valuable customer feedback.

For example, if I was a furniture company and I wanted to create a chair but I didn’t want to deal with the costs of creating the prototypes and shipping them everywhere for testing, I would simply contact SurveyMonkey. I’d send them the necessary information for what my product would look like, feel like, etc. and then just like that, my product is ready for feedback.

Prototypes would no longer be needed as designs go directly to testing

Customers can see and touch my product as if it was really there. As a company, I could go through multiple iterations of my product without ever having to actually create them. Now that is innovation.

There’s Still A Long Way To Go

Although these virtual/augmented experiences give invaluable data, it’s not yet scalable because not everyone has a VR headset…yet. The most current and practical application for this technology would be in focus groups, but as the cost of VR/AR decreases, it could expand beyond.

Leveraging AI for Data Interpretation

On another note, SurveyMonkey is already amazing at gathering data in a quick, clean format and displaying it for the user to use. It’s easily customizable, nice to see — the only downside is that the user has to find the insights. SurveyMonkey’s services still heavily require the client using its software to draw their own conclusions from the displayed data.

“The Analyze Results section of a survey shows the raw survey responses, as well as summary info with charts and trends.”

This information is helpful, but the hardest and most important part of data analysis is in finding conclusions. It can be a tedious and often repetitive task, much better suited for automation.

Another company, which employs AI in manufacturing — Raven Telemetry — already does this.

They use real-time manufacturing information to give their users actionable alerts. For SurveyMonkey, they could use AI to give their users specific, implementable actions. Now, SurveyMonkey could not only create compelling and useful dashboards by compiling information (what they already do wonderfully) but actually glean insights — giving a list of items/weaknesses that need to be addressed.

Moreover, artificial intelligence is incredibly effective at identifying relationships and trends our small human brains have a hard time finding. Even when data is represented graphically, the true connections are hard to see — but for AI, it comes much more easily.

This is particularly helpful for startups or small companies, which may not have the resources (in time and money) to scrutinize all the detailed information given on a traditional dashboard.

Key Takeaways

  • SurveyMonkey is already an established and successful SaaS company in the survey industry
  • VR/AR provides an opportunity for SurveyMonkey to take their surveys to the next level by having their surveys become actual experiences
  • Haptic technology could allow users to give feedback on the texture and ergonomics of a product remotely
  • AI can provide specific actions to clients by analyzing collected data rather than simply displaying data and having the client draw their own conclusions
  • AI can find the minute intricacies and trends in data which humans might miss

Checking out SurveyMonkey’s awesome Ottawa office!

Hey! Thanks for making it to the end! I’m Freeman, an Innovator at TKS (The Knowledge Society) and I’m super passionate about breaking down and solving the world’s biggest problems. Would love to talk to you about leveraging exponential technologies to impact billions.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/freeman-jiang-50b325190/

Email: freeman.jiang.ca@gmail.com

Website: freemanjiang.com

Freeman Jiang

Written by

Emerging Technologies Enthusiast and Innovator at TKS

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