Have you ever tediously entered data on to a paper form just to re-enter it into a database application once you returned to the office? Have you found discrepancies between your data collected in the field and the information in your database due to data re-entry errors? These are all examples of the limitations of paper-based or static data collection methods; that is, the limitations of collecting data in the field when access to supporting systems is limited or not available.
In the days when clipboards and pen and paper were the only data collection option, we thought in terms of collecting the data and re-entering when technology was available; we really had no choice but to collect and enter data multiple times. We were also left without a means to validate or supplement the data that we collected. Today, with the proliferation of smartphones and tablet computers, we have other data collection choices.
Mobile devices tantalize us with the promise of enterprise data at our fingertips no matter where we are. The productivity and efficiency gains garnered by the effective use of mobile devices are unarguable. But what will it take to move to a mobile data collection solution? What mobile device should you choose? Does your current staff have the skill sets to manage a mobile data collection solution? How will it integrate with your existing systems? How can you make sure you’ll really see a return on your investment?