Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) - Meaning, Importance & Example

Published in Marketing and Strategy Terms by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: March 28, 2019

What is Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI)?

Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) refers to how computers can be used in survey questionnaire development and administration. Instead of using a paper questionnaire, interviewees carry laptops in computer assisted interviewing from which they read out questions and enter answers to survey questions. The data is then transferred via modem back to the field centre. Computer assisted interviewing is thought to be one of the most influential developments in survey data collection.

CAI was first used in the UK in 1990 on the Labour Force Survey, and by 1995, all of the social surveys carried out by the Office for National Statistics used this method.

Importance of Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI)

In today’s world where data is considered the new oil, it is very important to have decisions that are based on solid data rather than just hunches. Computer assisted interviewing is just a medium or to say a catalyst that fastens the process of data collection for marketing research as we are considering the marketing domain. CAI enlarges the survey’s demographic specifics and helps researchers collect data seamlessly. From the cost aspect of computer assisted interviewing, it is literally inexpensive. The use of CAI software enables academicians and researchers to look through the data analysis without much structuring of the data collected.

Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI)

The figure shown encapsulates the concept of CAI, where a person with questionnaire can easily conduct the survey without any constraints of location or proximity.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Computer Assisted Interviewing

The advantages of computer assisted interviewing are cited as follows:

1. Cost savings can be made

a. No need for any data entry at the field centre

b. Results can be obtained quickly

2. Questionnaires can be improved

a. Complex routing and checking are possible

b. Changes can be made in between interviews

3. The data is ready to analyse very soon after the fieldwork is carried out

The disadvantages of computer assisted interviewing are cited as follows:

1. Problems associated with I.T. can be encountered

a. Computer programmers are needed who are familiar with both survey research and IT – these are not usually easy to come by

b. Time that is saved at the end of the survey process

2. Interviewers can also encounter problems

a. Respondents may be wary of a machine; this may either prevent them from taking part in the survey at all, or may affect their responses

b. They would need extra training in how to use the CAI software

3. Problems encountered by researchers or academics

a. It can be very difficult to decipher CAI questionnaires on paper

b. There is a rapidly expanding volume of documentation

Example of Computer Assisted Interviewing

Taking a hypothetical case where Coca-Cola wants to come up with a soft drink with spices in it. Before going for tasting, they want to know whether this idea is embraced by the consumers or not. For this they hire a marketing research firm to know the sentiments of buyers in this. The company, seeing the scale of the product will go for computer assisted interviewing technique and real time feedback from the customers.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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