10 Effective Ways to Data Capture

Jack Taylor
August 17, 2022
 Mins Read

With continuing path-breaking advancements in information technology, majority of data in today’s world is stored and transferred in the form of document files, .PDF files, electronic-forms, codes, mails, web-content etc. However, a significant amount of data continues to accumulate in the form of   manually filled forms, written documents, letters etc.  In such a scenario, where there is no singularity of either form or sources of data, multiple methods of data capturing are required which can be used for data capture based upon the original source or form in which data is present.

Organizations and businesses need to determine the best way of carrying out data capture, as fits their purpose. Here, in this article, we identify some basic methods of data capture and highlights the significant differences among them. An experienced data entry outsourcing service provider would have the requisite expertise to carry out high quality data capture.

10 Effective Ways to Data Capture

Depending upon the procedure of collecting information, the data capture process can be divided into two segments:

1. Manual Data Capture:

In manual data capture process, the data is entered manually by an operator using input devices like keyboard, touch screens, mouse etc.  for keying in data in the form of figures or text into particular software such as Excel or any other data or word processing program. This method of data collection is labor intensive, time consuming and so businesses find it efficient to migrate to automated methods of data capture. However, the manual method is not totally extinct and still finds application in many business processes. Briefly, the methods of manual data capture include using:

  • Mouse
  • Graphics tablet
  • Keyboard
  • Touch-screen – e.g. PDA
  • Tracker ball

2. Automated Data Capture:

Automated data capture involves the use of computerized technology to capture data. This method has  a high initial cost on account of the initial investment required as for instance, the purchase of technology but  as the project proceeds, is found to lower the operating costs significantly on account of low manpower requirement.  Further, with the majority of data today existing in electronic forms, the cost of using such automated technology has also reduced. Hence, there has been proliferation of techniques and technology of automated methods of data capturing, each suitable for a particular type data or source of data. Automated data capture includes the use of different technologies such as OCR, ICR, OMR and others, which are individually described here.

3. Optical Character Recognition (OCR):

OCR technology is used to convert different types of machine-printed documents including image files, PDF files or scanned paper documents, into searchable and editable data.

4. Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR):

ICR technology helps to recognize and capture handwritten printed characters from image files. As handwritten text caries significantly, so ICR is less accurate and complicated as compared to other technologies. However, the technology evolves continuously by itself and as the number of samples processed increases, the accuracy increases. This self-learning process differentiates it from others and gives it the name of ‘intelligent’.

5. Optical Mark Reading (OMR):

OMR technology is used to capture human marked data from documents such as forms and surveys. The technology has the capacity to differentiate between marked and unmarked boxes and so, is used for capturing data through boxes that are checked manually on documents.

6. Magnetic Ink character Recognition (MICR):

It is a data capture technology capable of recognizing characters. It involves the recognition of specially formatted characters that are printed in magnetic ink, by a machine. The technology is mainly used by banking industry to speed up the processing of cheques and other documents. The added advantage of this method is that humans can also read the data as well.

7. Magnetic Stripe Cards:

Magnetic stripe cards store data using magnetic properties of certain materials. They possess stripes of iron-based magnetic materials on the card. They are used for electronically storing particular numbers related to credit cards, identity cards and they enable automated data transfer when they reswiped in magnetic readers.

8. Smart-Cards:

Smart cards are pocket-sized cards with embedded integrated circuits. They can function on contact or can be contactless. They contain more memory than magnetic cards and can be used for data related to personal identification, authentication, biometrics etc. Upon interaction with suitable reading devices they enable automated information transfer and data access.

9. Web-Data Capture:

Data capture from web involves the capture of data from electronic forms through internet or intranet.

10. Voice- Recognition:

Voice recognition is the process of converting speech into text. The text can be simple text or can be a set of commands.  It finds application in dictation systems, small controlling systems and certain processes of data entry and word-processing environment.

There are differences in the types of data and their sources. Accordingly, there are different methods of capturing this data. Reading this article would have certainly provided you with information regarding various data sources and their methods of processing data. However, the selection of appropriate methods for data capture involves equally an understanding of form, source, depth and quantum of data.

A suitable selection of a data capture tool is bound to make the business process resource- efficient, cost-effective and time saving. While knowledge of these different methods of data capture would certainly help businesses to decide on a strategy that best suits them, leveraging the expertise of an expert OCR Services provider would help them enhance their business efficiency to the best possible extent.

Article by
Jack Taylor

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