People often post random questions in our chat box. Some people ask “So what do you really do?” Some do their research and get more specific. “Are you a data collection app?”, “Are you a database?”, “Are you an analytics company?”, and “Are you a data visualization company?” are common questions.
At least these people have heard of us and are on the right track. But these questions still make me cringe! We aren’t just a data visualization company or analytics company or app, and we’re certainly not just a database.
In a recent conversation, I realized the reason why people often try, struggle, and fail to quickly understand what we do. Because of the sheer scope and complexity of what we are building, it is impossible to bucket us into an existing industry (e.g. data visualization or market research), unlike many other companies and startups.
In this blog post, I’ll decode what we’re doing, using layman’s terms as much as possible without oversimplifying our work.
Today, even the most efficient organizations make decisions through a long, tedious process.
Step 1: Gather Data
The first step involves gathering data. This data can come from many places — primary surveys, secondary sources, and multiple forms of internal sources.
Step 2: Analyze Data
The second step is the analyst’s role — taking data from multiple sources and cleaning it. It is estimated that 60-80% of a data scientist’s time is spent on cleaning and preparing data for analysis.
Step 3: Visualize Data
The third step involves creating an executive summary (including recommendations, charts, and graphs), presentations, and/or reports for decision makers to make a decision.
The entire decision-making process takes between 3 and 6 months (or more!), and it usually uses far too little data, even for incredibly important decisions. This is a bit regressive given that I can sort through tons of data to find the quickest route home or a great restaurant near me that serves Italian food under 500 rupees in just a few minutes.
The SocialCops Platform
Data intelligence is a better way to make an important decision with data. It starts with finding all the data you need for your decision — extracted from elaborate internal systems, sourced from places you never would have thought to look, and unified with real-time data. We then transform this mass of data into intelligent insights that make the best decision obvious.
Our platform handles every step of using data intelligence to make a better decision. From collecting primary data or accessing secondary data to analyzing and visualizing data, our platform brings the entire decision-making process into one place for quicker, easier, more efficient data-driven decisions. It’s optimized to take on the toughest problems and ugliest data systems.
There are four main products built on top of our platform: Collect, Access, Transform, and Visualize.
Collect Primary Data
Use Collect, our Android-based data collection product, to collect quality data on phones or tablets. Collect was built to thrive under the toughest conditions — it collects data and even tracks GPS locations without internet, even on low-cost devices — while handling powerful functions like monitoring and custom mappings with ease. Every survey is customizable based on the organization’s needs.
Access External Data
Access uses external data sets from publicly available sources to add context and intelligence to any project. It covers billions of data points from hundreds of sources around the world. Unlike most public data sets, our data sets are cleaned, able to be layered, and usable.
Transform, the nucleus of our platform, is our secret to structuring, cleaning, and merging even the most disparate data sets. It uses machine learning to take the hassle out of data cleaning, automatically find and fix errors with fuzzy logic and entity recognition, geocode and reverse geocode locations, build data indices, and make sense out of even the ugliest data.
Visualize, our data visualization product, converts mountains of data into intuitive visualizations and dashboards to help decision makers find the insights they need in no time. Its beautiful visualizations, built for ease and speed, help anyone find geographic patterns, keep an eye on important metrics, and make a better decision.
The fundamental unit of our platform is a decision, and every decision is unique. Organizations and enterprises can choose to either use the entire platform, or pick specific products that suit their needs.
Who Uses Our Platform?
We haven’t mentioned a specific use case for our platform yet, because there are infinite use cases and verticals in which our platform can help decision makers make effective decisions.
Every day, the world’s most important decisions are made by people — CEOs, heads of states, District Collectors, etc. — who have too little time and too much information to process. Our goal is to get them the answers to the questions they ask while making these decisions on a real-time basis.
Decision makers usually make two kinds of decisions — high-level strategic decisions (where to invest, which geographical areas to expand into, what areas to focus on to achieve a larger goal) and daily programmatic decisions (whether daily targets are being met, whether the organization is growing week over week, whether monitoring progress). Our platform brings all the data and intelligence required for both kinds of decisions into one place.
Explore our case studies to know more about how our platform has been deployed in the real world to solve diverse problems.
For instance, a large philanthropic organization recently wanted to make investments to improve the quality of life of small and marginal farmers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They needed to decide which districts they could intervene in to make the maximum impact. They used Access and Visualize on our platform to access our data about agriculture, nutrition, and female empowerment, explore the secondary data visually, and make a decision that would have otherwise taken them over 6 months. Access and Visualize on our platform have been also used by district collectors to optimize their spending for improving quality of life, by marketing heads to prioritize in which villages they should carry out rural marketing programs, and by other organizations in high-level strategic decisions.
Together, Collect and Transform on our platform make decision making happen in real time by bringing the same kind of tracking that we see in the online world to the physical world. Collect works completely without internet, works on 2,000 rupee phones, and supports any kind of local language. Organizations put Collect in the hands of field workers (e.g. people running interventions for an NGO, sales people who visit stores, gram sevaks who sanction schemes at the village level) and turns them into human sensors, collecting valuable data every day. Transform cleans this data in real time and flags errors, ensuring that only quality data reaches the decision maker. Collect and Transform convert traditional organizations with slow reaction times and long-term strategies into nimble, lean organizations that can iterate and develop new data-driven strategies every week.
These are two of the most common uses of our platform. However, many other organizations have created their own use cases and customized our platform to use data intelligence for their specific decisions. Our platform is being used by over 150 organizations around the world — running baseline surveys, creating real-time monitoring systems, making strategic investment decisions, visualizing data through interactive dashboards, and a multitude of other use cases.