How to Choose The Best Data Capture Solution in 2021
As data capture has become more important to businesses, an increasing number of data capture solutions have been created. While this is good news for those wishing to automate various data capture processes, it does pose a key problem.
How do businesses know which data capture solutions are right for them?
Well, there are several things that they need to take into consideration to determine which solutions they should be deploying.
So if you’re planning on introducing new data capture solutions in your business, we can help. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at:
- What data capture is
- How can it drive your business forward
- What data capture features you need to consider
- How you go about choosing the right data capture solutions
Let’s get started.
What is data capture?
Put simply, data capture is the process of extracting information from a document. This data is then converted into a readable format by a computer so it can be edited, analysed and used by the business.
Automated data capture solutions rely on the use of technologies such as intelligent character recognition (ICR), optical character recognition (OCR) and optical mark reading (OMR) to help extract data.
That being said, in rarer cases, manual data capture methods are still used. This means that data from a paper or electric document is manually extracted and input into a database by a human.
Behind these data capture and collection systems, there is an opportunity for you to unlock significant benefits. After all, these solutions are designed to improve workflow processes by automating the conversion and the channelling of information.
Below, we’ve pulled together just some of the ways that data capture solutions – automated data capture solutions, that is – can help your business. These include:
- Processing online forms such as sign up forms or claims forms
- Website behavioural tracking, looking at post-purchase data or the success of marketing campaigns
- Scanning and managing documents to avoid paperwork from piling up
- Billing and finance-related tasks such as invoicing, scanning receipts and logging transactions and received payments
- HR functions such as dispatching relevant documents and communications to relevant employees or business partners
- Customer service notifications, ensuring the right people are alerted immediately to customer service queries
- Analysing and extracting data to generate reports and marketplace insights
And this is just a drop in the ocean. There is so much more that you can do with data capture solutions. These can be hugely important for streamlining your processes and having a big impact on your business.
We’ll look at how these data capture systems can have an impact on your overall business goals in more detail in the next section.
How can data capture solutions drive your business forward?
Nowadays, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; almost every single business needs to collect, store and use data in some form. And gone are the days of the old fashioned filing cabinet system! Modern-day businesses have largely transitioned to digital platforms, and they need tools that reflect this.
This means that data capture solutions can be applied to pretty much every company. So whether you’re:
- Acquiring market data
- Streamlining your invoicing systems
- Working on client outreach
- Or just finding a quicker way to processes online forms
Data capture solutions can help to drive your business forward. And it does this in several key ways:
Saving time and effort
Every company that collects data will face the same challenge, getting this done in the most efficient way.
Automated data capture solutions eliminate the need to enter data manually, and therefore, the process is far less labour-intensive and time-consuming.
By automatically extracting data from a document using tools like optical character recognition (OCR), this data can be easily captured, converted, organised and stored, ready to be used.
This can save so much time and makes collecting and organising your data so much more efficient.
Data capture solutions can help to save your business money in a number of ways. Firstly, it can eliminate the need and, therefore, the cost of physical storage and paperwork. For example, it reduces the costs of printing, photocopying and having multiple filing cabinets.
But more than this, because data capture solutions eliminate the need for manual data entry, more work can be done in a fraction of the time. This cuts down on the number of hours employees need to work. Plus, it can reduce the need to hire additional staff.
This makes data capture an important way for reducing costs.
Reducing the risk of error
Automated data capture solutions extract and check data to ensure it is accurate, reducing the risk of an error in your information.
Think about it, people doing labour-intensive data entry tasks can become tired and bored, increasing the risk of them making a mistake. Whereas machines don’t get tired and have predefined properties set to ensure the accuracy of the information they’re organising.
So by using data capture solutions, you can worry less about the validity and integrity of your data.
This is important not only for ensuring accurate results but also for security and compliance. People want to know their data is in safe hands and businesses also need to ensure they’re complying with data laws such as General Data Protection Regulations.
As we said, data capture solutions can make tasks more efficient and they can also work 24/7 without getting tired. This means implementing these technologies can help to boost productivity and get more done.
Not only this, but with employees no longer burdened with manual data entry, they are free to focus on more important tasks. This can be very empowering for them and allows them to dedicate their time to tasks that robots can’t do, such as building client relationships.
Achieving goals faster
Finally, keeping all of the above in mind, it’s easy to see how data capture solutions can help you to achieve your business goals faster. They can help to save money, boost productivity (and therefore profit) and help to empower your employees.
What data capture features do you need to consider?
Now we understand how data capture solutions can benefit your business; it’s time to start looking at how you can choose the best solutions for your business this year. When shopping for data capture solutions, you need to choose the systems that best suit your business needs.
In particular, there are four features that you need to consider before you begin shopping. These include:
Ease of use
The first thing you need to think about is how easy your data capture platform is to use. Any technology that is being used to take on important business processes needs to be easy to use. It also needs to be easy to teach your employees to use.
Otherwise, they aren’t going to want to use it.
As such, you need to choose your solutions carefully and ensure they aren’t too complicated.
Integration with existing systems
Another thing you need to consider is whether your data capture solution is able to seamlessly integrate with your back-end business systems. Therefore, compatibility with the software used to run your operations will be an important factor.
For example, any data capture solutions you choose need to be able to integrate with your product tracking, accounting, time management or any other important systems.
Mobility of your devices
Nowadays, there is an increasing need for handheld devices within a business, for example, handheld scanners, iPads, tablets, etc.
These are the ideal ways to capture data because they offer lots of different functions in one mobile device. So you need to determine whether you’re going to want handheld devices and the overall mobility of your systems.
Versatility of your data capture solution
Finally, you want your data capture solution to be able to adapt to you’re changing business needs. Therefore, you need to make sure your choosing a solution that can accommodate new systems at the point of capture and with back-end processes.
This is important for allowing your business to grow and adapt in the future.
How do you go about choosing the right solution for your business?
When the time comes to actually find the right data capture solutions for you, it’s important to keep the four considerations above at the forefront of your mind.
In fact, before purchasing any solution, you should always ask yourself (and perhaps the provider) the following four questions:
- Is it easy enough to use?
- Can I integrate this easily with my existing systems?
- Does it work with mobile devices?
- Is the tool versatile and able to adapt to changing business needs?
We’ve also pulled together our step by step guide for choosing the right data capture solutions for your business this year. These are:
1. Determine what data you want to capture
Firstly, you need to decide what data it is that your business needs to capture in order to achieve your goals.
For example, are you hoping to build an email list to accelerate your marketing efforts? Or perhaps you want a system that automatically captures and updates customer information to keep their files as up to date as possible.
Either way, it’s important that you know exactly what your data capture solutions need to do. Otherwise, how are you going to find the right one?
2. Watch out for any crossovers
Remember, the point of data capture solutions is to automate tasks that could otherwise have taken employees hours to complete. Therefore, you are choosing a system that is going to replace the need for an employee to enter this data.
As such, it is senseless choosing a tool that still requires a lot of input from your workers. Not to mention multiple people and bots dealing with data entry creates more room for an error to occur.
3. Consider multiple solutions
It’s important to realise that one data capture solution may not be enough to help your business achieve all its goals. Therefore, you should consider whether multiple solutions might be the better option for you.
This could mean looking for a service provider or data capture tool that offers multiple functionalities and allows you to automate a number of processes.
4. Keep it simple
Sometimes it’s better not to shoot for the flashiest new device or most expensive software. Instead, try to avoid overcomplicating things.
After all, the best data capture solutions are those that don’t drastically change the way you’re used to working or disrupt the status quo.
When choosing the most appropriate solutions, you need to select a system that is going to make life easier for everyone without completely overhauling your current work environment.
This also means you should avoid trying to be too ‘trendy’. You simply need to choose sustainable solutions that meet your requirements. Don’t get sucked in by a blur of offerings or features that you aren’t ever going to need or use.
This can just make things more complicated and possibly even cost your business more money.
5. Think about security
As with anything to do with data, you need to make sure that you take security into consideration. As we mentioned earlier, compliance with GDPR is key, and if you keep this in mind when choosing your data capture solution, you’ll find it easier to ensure you’re meeting all the legal requirements.
So you need to look into the safety features of any solution you’re deploying, especially if this requires handheld devices that are more at risk of getting lost or stolen.
6. Shop around
Finally, you don’t just want to settle for the first solution you find. You need to shop around and compare a few solutions and software providers before finding the one that’s right for you.
This includes considering the functions and capabilities of each tool you look at, as well as comparing prices, reviews and what support is on offer to help you should something go wrong with your systems.
As you can see, there is a lot that you need to consider when choosing the best data capture solutions for 2021.
We’ve taken you through the selection process step by step, looking at the key considerations you need to make.
But if you’d like to know more about data capture solutions and how these tools can be used in your business, you can check out some of our related reading below: