Mobile Data Capture Software: How to Choose One for 2021

mobile data capture software

Data collection is an integral task for businesses across a whole range of industries. Because of this, multiple companies have begun developing mobile data capture applications and platforms that allow them to gather data in a more flexible way.

These tools can be used to help collect, organise and analyse data for a number of important business functions without being tethered to an office. 

But again, this has left business facing a new challenge – how do they choose the right mobile data capture software for their needs? And why do they need these?

The benefits of mobile data capture softwares

These tools can help to speed up data collection and analysis because the data can be captured and submitted in real-time. This makes it immediately available for viewing and sharing. What’s more, handheld mobile devices allow for a lot more flexibility for both businesses and their customers. 

Some of the most popular tools include smartphones, tablets and handheld devices and scanners. By integrating these with mobile data capture software, businesses can use them to scan QR codes and barcodes, automatically fill out forms, recognise voice commands and more.

This saves businesses and consumers a lot of time and can be a much more cost-effective way to gather data. Not to mention that mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular, as is using these tools to go about our daily lives. This means people are increasingly expecting to be able to complete tasks from their phone – and mobile data capture makes this possible. 

How to choose your software 

So as you can see, there are lots of ways these softwares can be applied. This can make it even harder for businesses to choose the right solutions.

And that’s where we come in. 

In this guide, we’re going to take you through the seven steps for choosing the best mobile data capture software this year. These are: 

1. Considering your data needs

The first thing you need to do when choosing the right mobile data capture software is to think carefully about your data needs. If you don’t do this, then how can you possibly know which tool is going to work best. 

So, for example, are you a retailer that wants to make the shopping experience easier for customers by using mobile checkout? Perhaps you then want to use the data captured to help with your marketing efforts?

Or are you a shipping company that needs better warehouse management and therefore needs better control over inventory and what stock is coming in and out? 

Now, of course, these are just two very brief examples, but by determining what data it is you need to collect and the best way to do this, you can begin to move towards choosing the right software for your business.  

So don’t rush this stage. Instead, take some time and make some notes. This will help you determine what to collect but also rule out the data that you don’t need to collect during the process either. 

2. Considering your current ecosystem 

What we mean by considering your ecosystem is thinking about factors like: 

  • Infrastructure
  • Security (and data security) 
  • The technology market
  • What your competitors are doing 

You need to do this because these will often directly contribute towards the types of mobile data capture software that you need and that you can implement. 

Think about it; if you don’t have a stable internet connection, you might need a tool that works well offline. Similarly, if your business is handling very sensitive information such as financial details, then cybersecurity needs to be a key priority when choosing mobile devices and software. 

Finally, if you can do your research and see what your competitors are doing and how they’re offering a great customer experience, you can try and find a data capture solution that takes this one step further. 

This can give your company a competitive edge. 

3. Identifying and prioritising your selection criteria

This phase is a very important one in the selection process as it helps you to decide what you need from your mobile data capture software, what is optional and what you can do without. Several other factors that could influence your selections include: 

  • The short and long term costs of the software and whether you’re on a budget
  • The number of users, whether that’s employees, survey participants, app users, etc. You need to make sure that the software can accommodate the amount users and their needs 
  • What devices you’re using, so, for example, some software might only be compatible with smartphones but not tablets. So you need to determine what devices you’ll be using
  • The security and privacy compliance of the software and whether this will allow you to meet data protection regulations
  • Whether you need your software and mobile devices to integrate with other technology. If so, you need to make sure the software has this capability 
  • If the devices will need to be used offline and therefore if the software offers this functionality 
  • Determine whether you want SMS integration so your users can receive data and information through text messages 
  • Whether you need to set different levels of authority and authentication depending on the user. This means you need to think about who is collecting the data and how many people will have access to the devices
  • If you need to collect data for analysis and whether the mobile data capture software can display results and insights in real-time 
  • Whether you need to allow for maps and GPS locations 
  • If you’re going to need to be able to capture media or play video and audio as part of your service 
  • And finally, you need to research the software to find out how easy it is to set up, integrate and use. You don’t want a system that is difficult to learn and operate

There is a lot of information to take in here. As such, you need to take your time and weigh up all of these considerations. It might even be worth making some notes, so you know exactly what it is you’re looking for from your mobile data capture software.

4. Doing your research 

Once you know what data you need to collect and you’ve considered everything we’ve outlined above, it’s time to start doing your research. This is your chance to start shopping around, perhaps booking demos or meetings with service providers. 

This way, you can find out exactly what each software does, whether it will meet your requirements and begin to build an idea of how much it might cost your business.

5. Ranking your options 

Once you’ve got it down to a shortlist of your options, you can begin to narrow down your options and rank which software is the best. This needs to be done based on your set criteria, which features it needs to have and which your business could live without. 

Again, don’t rush this stage of the process because it’s an important one. If you’re unsure about a particular mobile data capture software, don’t hesitate to get in touch with their team and find out more.

6. Deciding if a custom solution is best 

In some rarer cases, you might find that the existing mobile data capture software out there just won’t cut it. If you can’t find a platform that meets all your needs and for a reasonable price, you might have to start considering a custom solution. 

This means working with the open-source community or a developer who can create a customised software and platform just for your business. This can include all the features you need, and though it might be more expensive in the first instance, these can actually work out more cost-effective in the long run. 

7. Selecting and testing your chosen software 

The final stage, if you’ve determined that you don’t need a custom solution, is to choose your platform. At this point, you might wish to test it out more rigorously and perhaps find out if a month trial is possible to see how your team get on.   

Then, once you’re happy with your chosen software, you can implement this into your business, train up your team and continue driving your business forward. All the while knowing that you’ve got the right mobile data capture software for 2021. 

Are you ready to choose your mobile data capture software? 

Although it is not a short process and there is a lot to consider, it is well worth taking your time to ensure you choose a mobile data capture software that will meet all your requirements and expectations. 

So don’t rush and be sure to consider all the key factors that we have outlined above before settling on a provider. And hey, you might even find that a custom solution is the best option for your business this year. 

Related reading

If you’d like to know more about data capture, you can do so with some of our related reading. Check out some of our other helpful guides below: 

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