Data Capture and Collection Systems: Advantages and Disadvantages
In today’s digital world, data capture is a key priority for businesses across a range of industries. In fact, it’s important in pretty much every industry there is.
This means that most companies rely on data capture systems one way or another to help with tasks such as gathering market data, analytics, accounting, building email marketing lists, driving sales and more!
With data being used for so many different functions, businesses have found themselves faced with another key challenge – getting the right data capture and collection systems in place.
That said, if you understand the different data capture and collection systems available and the advantages and disadvantages of using these, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right method for your business.
And this is where we come in.
In this guide, we’re going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of different data capture and collection systems. This will help you to make a more informed decision when implementing a data capture strategy in your business.
What are data capture and collection systems?
Let’s start by taking a look at what data capture and collection systems actually are.
Well, data capture is the process of capturing and extracting data from electronic documents, be that emails, PDFs, scanned images etc. These tools are able to capture data from unstructured and semi-unstructured sources and turn this into data that can be read, edited and interpreted by a computer.
Data collection systems are computer applications that facilitate this process of data capture, allowing specific information to be gathered in a systematic fashion.
So when the two are put together, we are essentially looking at the different tools and systems that make data capture and collection possible. And there are several key systems that are used by businesses which we’ll look at in the next section.
What are the different types of data capture and collection systems?
Generally, data capture and collection systems fall into one of the following five categories, though depending on the nature of the business and the data they are collecting, these can differ. But the most common types of system include:
- Online surveys
- Questionnaires and quizzes
- Online data capture forms
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
- Online interviews
Which one you choose to gather data use will very much depend on your reason for collecting data and how you want to use it afterwards. That, and the advantages and disadvantages of each of these. Because clearly, you want to choose the best system for the job.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of these different types of systems?
As with everything in life, these data capture and collection systems are not foolproof. They each come with their own advantages and disadvantages. It is through weighing up these differences that you can determine which data capture systems are best for your business. Below, we’re to look at the pros and cons of the key data collections systems we’ve outlined above. These are:
1. Online surveys and questionnaires
- Surveys and questionnaires can be created for relatively low cost using survey platforms and tools such as Survey Gizmo or Survey Monkey
- Similarly, these can be distributed in a budget-friendly way using tools such as email and social media platforms
- These types of data collection methods are accessible to most people with a computer and can also be made mobile friendly for mobile date capture strategies
- These are relatively easy to set up, you can tailor the questions and the data is easy to pull and analyse at the end
- There are no geographic restrictions so you can reach a wider audience
- You can target literally thousands of people at one time with an online survey, gathering a larger pool of data
- These support flexible designs so your survey or questionnaire can be made to look exactly how you want and even reflect your branding
- It’s easier to incentivise people to take an online survey or questionnaire, which makes it easier to gather more data
- If you choose the wrong distribution channels, you might end up with little data or really biased data
- Participants might be less engaged in filling a survey out online than if it were done in person
- Repeated requests to take a survey or questionnaire can become irritating to individuals and could actually damage your brand
- It’s harder to verify identification. Therefore someone could have a friend fill out the survey for them or perhaps one person could submit multiple surveys
- You might have difficulty reaching certain groups if they have limited or no access to the internet, though this is rarer in today’s digital world
2. Data capture forms
- Data capture forms can auto-populate fields based on prior data entered, which can save users time and effort
- If these forms are on the right landing pages, they can boost the number of sign-ups or people that fill out these forms
- The data is automatically captured and entered into a database, making it easier for employees to quickly gather, organise and store information
- These can be a cost-effective way of gathering data once the online form is built and in place
- You can easily incentivise people to fill out these forms. For example, sign up for a discount or free white paper
- These forms can be mobile optimised for mobile data capture strategies
- By putting data verification software in place, you can ensure that all data entered into the form is in the right format before it is submitted. For example, ensuring email addresses are formatted correctly
- It can be hard to know if someone is telling the truth or entering false information such as a fake name or email address
- This means that quality control of data from online forms can be much trickier
- You might be constrained to certain designs, fields and types of forms depending on your website or landing pages
- These require an internet connection which not everyone has
- With more traffic coming from mobile, forms that are not optimised could cost you data
3. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
- CRMs allow for the consolidation of large amounts of customer data in one place
- The data stored within, for example, contact details and purchase history, can be the basis for deep and useful insights
- CRMs typically have stronger security systems in place to ensure the safety of customer data
- These systems make sharing data between departments much easier and faster
- These systems can be more costly to implement in the first instance (though ROI should strengthen over time)
- They also rely on the collection of data over time in order to build up these systems, so it can be a lengthier process
- An internal security issue could lead to a larger data breach
- These systems might not be suitable for all types of business
4. Online interviews
- Thanks to speech recognition technologies, it is now possible to gather data automatically as the interview takes place, so this no longer requires it to be manually transcribed
- These can capture more in-depth information as the interviewer can build rapport with the participant
- This, in turn, can lead to more helpful and detailed insights
- There is a higher quality of sampling compared to some other data collection methods
- Interviewers have a greater opportunity to ask follow-up questions, unlike with methods such as online surveys or questionnaires
- This can be a much slower and more time-consuming process than simply sending out a survey to hundreds of people at once
- This can also be a more costly process as it takes up the time of the interviewer
- If the interview is not conducted effectively, this can undermine the whole process
- Some of the data may still need to be gathered and transcribed manually
- This can take longer to get results and insights, even though these may ultimately be more in-depth
Choosing the data capture and collection systems that are right for you
As we said earlier, these are not the only systems for data capture and collection and over time, we will continue to see data capture solutions evolving. That being said, these are some of the most common techniques that are used by businesses across a range of industries.
This is why we thought it would be helpful to outline the advantages and disadvantages of each of these systems. If none of the above seems to be ticking all the right boxes, you can look for an alternative data capture tool for your business.
However, these are important methods, and it’s likely that at least one of these will be a beneficial solution for your data capture needs.
That said, it’s worth keeping in mind their disadvantages so you can try to offset these and get the best possible results.
If you’d like to know more about the different types of methods and tools or more about important systems such as data capture – we’ve got that covered too. Check out some of our related articles below for more information and insights: