In a world where speed and accuracy of data entry and getting work done are of the upmost priority many companies are looking for time saving devices that increase the productivity of their employees.
Years ago I was working in customer service for a large global company and one aspect of my role was data entry of customers orders into the processing system. This was a time when customers mainly faxed or posted their orders through to us on a specific all designed order form.
As a cost cutting exercise the management team looked to technology to reduce headcount of staff and a trial of a data entry machine went underway. Now as I said in the beginning this was many years ago and things may have moved on now, but we noticed quite quickly that the data entry machines could not spot errors in things like the description of the product vs the product code.
What is a data entry machine?
A data entry machine uses Optical Character Recognition or OCR as it is more widely known. It works by converting images of typed, printed or handwritten texts like documents, invoices, receipts, etc., into the form of machine-encoded text so that it can be edited and searched electronically.
- Speed Up Processing– Data Entry Machines can drastically reduce the time it takes to enter data.
- Security Of Data – If your business captures customers card details on order forms then there is always a risk of that information falling foul of a untrustworthy employee, however with an OCR machine this risk is significantly reduced.
- Reduced Labour Costs – After the initial outlay of the data processing software there is no other cost, there are no salaries to pay, pensions or healthcare costs.
- It Can’t Always Catch Oddities – All though automated entry is faster than manual, there are certain situations where speed is not most important. Accuracy of the information being processed is extremely important, there maybe times where manual intervention is required. Things like handwriting can catch machines out.
- Software Limitations – Remember your automated data entry processing software is only as good as the developers that coded it. Something generic may not be suitable for your business and actually create more work for your employees. Bespoke solutions can be costly too develop and implement.
I think there is some scope for OCR data entry machines to be used alongside data entry clerks, as a double accuracy checking measure, to ensure that the machine has not missed something where text is illegible or ambiguous.
Certainly for order processing this can speed everything up but for other more text heavy tasks a clerk will undoubtedly be required.