What is the usual final stage of research projects for clients? A comprehensive technical report is compiled with the findings. What usually happens to the large compiled full report? It might get published internally, but more often than not, we have to prepare a summary, a ‘brief’, we have to go through several rounds of simplifications, and communicate the findings in a palatable and easily digestible way. Then a workshop might be held to present it to partners and stakeholders but also then, usually, the time reserved for really going into the detailed findings is limited and much of the available time is set aside for discussions during which many stakeholders showcase their own learnings from their own studies. At best the workshop participants take away two to three new insights and get on with their lives. The client’s staff themselves will at best use some of the findings to fulfil their objectives of the research. Unfortunately, in many cases, the lead person representing the client leaves the organisation and with that person so does the awareness of the study. Then, the report will be archived maybe both in hard copy and soft copy sometimes online for others to access. This is all good, but what if we make it better? What if we create a system where we don’t have to wait until the end of the project to see the results; what if we allow the clients to play with the data themselves in an easy way; what if partners and stakeholders interested can access the data while the research is going on. Wouldn’t that be interesting? And better yet, wouldn’t that make our life a bit easier? This article is about the Data Portal of L-IFT that delivers all this through FINBIT Technology.
The data portal is an online database system that contains all the data collected during a research project. It is automatically updated with the results when field researchers upload the data they collect. We can see the graphs and figures in a table form and get the information we are looking for. You only have to log in with a username and password that is given by L-IFT staff. Some of the benefits are:
- User friendly: Anyone with access can easily see it with just a brief orientation about it. You can download graphs, and see the figures based on your interest and the segmentation you are looking for. Some of the segmentation includes geographical zone, age, gender…etc.
- Time-saving: as a client or as a person in charge of analysing findings, you can easily get the information without the need of asking anyone which could take some time.
- Live updates: it is updated while the research is going on so there is no need to wait until the end of the project to look into the data. Also, it allows flexibility in designing surveys based on the results seen.
- Repeated use of information: Even if the project ends, the findings don’t get stored away. You can always get online and see the information you are looking for. Authorized users can include the information in writing proposals, reports, internal memos…etc.
- Access complex information easily: Sometimes there are questions in your mind that might seem complex to figure out and you expect to need deeper analysis. But in the portal, you can often get answers to some aspects of the complex question in a faster way to get an understanding. For example, we were studying smallholder farmers’ financial behaviour recently in Ethiopia. We expected farmers who are members of cooperatives to be different from farmers who were not members of cooperatives. Let’s see an example of a question of whether they regard a bank as the most important financial service to manage finances. You can easily verify on the portal whether cooperative members and non-members are different. Below is the graph from the portal that shows members are more likely to say a conventional bank account is the most important financial service to manage their finances.
You can see the video here of the Demonstration of the FINBIT portal
In addition, the FINBIT portal can be specifically designed for organizations that want to dive into the data themselves. They may have data of their own and they want to see the data in a friendly interface and use it for their purpose. We have done this in Nigeria for the Scale2Save project of WSBI and Mastercard Foundation. Two large FSPs in Nigeria known as LAPO and FMCB are using it to profile their target customers (or referred to as “persona segmentation”). The portal offers them insights into customer characteristics, livelihoods, financial decisions, and behaviours in Nigeria and allows them to develop new services for their customers.
As you can see, the data portal has allowed both our clients and us to get the maximum out of a given research project. We at L-IFT are working hard to add features to develop more and more functionalities. So come to L-IFT and let’s work together and the rich results are just a few clicks away!
By Mahlet Alemayehu
Programme Manager, L-IFT