For years data collection teams have gathered information on paper and clipboards, then cataloged the data once they got back to the office. It worked then, but it was inefficient and prone to error.

A Mobile Data Collection System

Originally done in the utility, petrochemical, and forestry industries, data was collected using industrial hardened handheld computers. After collection, the data was downloaded to a server or desktop PC.

Business logic embedded in the handheld software allowed for data validation and correction prior to merging the data with the enterprise. These industrial PCs were bulky, heavy, and had little geographical awareness. A local connection was required in order to receive collection templates or return collected data, either USB cable, Bluetooth, or WiFi and was only available at the office.

With the advent of the smartphone and tablets, the power of handheld computing is combined with an ubiquitous connection that lets your team fill in data points in the field and have it reflected on the enterprise immediately. These apps are super-powered allowing you to capture photos, videos, encrypt collected data, link your data with geographical and location information, and much more. They're flexible tools that can help you gather more information, achieve greater accuracy, and finish more quickly.

Going paperless in the office is an easy transition—with everyone using a computer, you can simply depend on online forms. Going paperless in the field, however, can appear to be an equally daunting task. If you do move away from paper, though, you can modernize your entire team's workflow, helping everyone get more done and saving data entry headaches. It may be even more fulfilling than taking your office paperless.

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