Mobile phones and telecommunication services are getting better and cheaper every year. Mobile phones are revolutionizing businesses. Today we use apps for everything like ordering food at home, making payments and hailing taxis. All types of large and small companies are relying on ubiquitous mobile phones to maximize efficiency and productivity. Data collection and field inspection agencies are also seeking the benefits that can be offered by switching from paper based data collection to mobile data collection.
Saves time – Collecting data through paper based forms is a tedious process. Further curation and data entry into database is time consuming and error prone. Mobile field data collection will save a lot of time.
Reduces costs – Manually conducting paper based surveys incurs additional costs associated with printing, transportation and data entry into databases. Mobile data collection procedures will ensure lower costs in the long run bringing monetary profits for the businesses.
Improves Data Quality – Mobile apps can prevent human errors from surveyors and field inspectors. Possibility of human errors is further reduced by removing the need of data entry process. Mistakes in the survey forms can be detected in advance and apps can be updated on the fly.
Data security – Paper forms are prone to damage due to negligence or catastrophic events. This can be prevented by using mobile data collection apps which will simultaneously upload data to replicated servers.
Live data analysis – Mobile data collection apps can upload data instantaneously which can be used by business leaders to generate live reports and enhance decision making capabilities.
Better compliance – With data collection software, a set of predefined standards are mentioned and can be checked easily which allows field inspector to spot any non-compliance measures.
Technical training – Training field staff and providing them with updated documentation adds to the costs when using paper based data collection. The mobile apps can provide the field technicians with automated training and tips to help them do their job correctly. They can easily access to updated documentation from the app.
Improve performance – It is often difficult to track performance, quality of work and productivity levels of field staff. Using KPIs collected from mobile data collection apps, executives can monitor the performance of field staff and take measures to improve the performance.
Safety and emergency – It's not possible to track the conditions of the employees on field in emergency situations like a collapsed mine, a downed power line or gas leak. It becomes difficult to lend real time support. With Usher professional, managers can view the current location of employees on a map and review their recent activities.
There are some challenges to the adoption of this technology widely.
Cost of developing apps – The initial investment in developing apps is often an impediment for small companies. In addition, these apps need to be maintained and updated and having to hire experts for this is expensive. Mobile form apps helps reduce these costs by providing a data collection platform where creators can develop and maintain data collection apps using a graphical interface to drag and drop various form components. The apps can then be deployed and made available on App stores on all mobile operating systems.
Availability of the internet – Some rural areas may lack good internet connectivity. To serve such areas, the app needs to be able to collect data offline, which can be uploaded at a later point when access to the internet is restored. Apps developed can be used for offline data collection. The collected data is uploaded when internet connectivity is restored.