Data capture is the process of collecting, arranging, formatting, interpreting and storing data in an electronic format. There are different ways to capture data. Businesses need to determine the best method that fits their purpose. An experienced data entry service provider will have the expertise to carry out high quality data capture.
Based on the procedure of collecting information, the process of data capture can be divided into two types.
- Manual Data Capture – In this data capture process, the data is entered manually by an operator with the help of input devices such as keyboard, touch screens, mouse etc. This method of collecting data is time consuming and labor-intensive. Therefore, many businesses are now migrating to automated methods of data capture. However, the manual method has not become totally obsolete. It still finds application in many business processes.
- Automated Data Capture – This method involves the use of computerized technology to capture data. In fact, automated data capture has a high initial cost in terms of the initial investment required for the purchase of technology. However, as the project proceeds, the operating costs would reduce significantly as it requires low manpower. Nowadays, the majority of data exists in electronic forms. This reduces the cost of using such automated technology. There has been rapid increase in techniques and technology of automated methods of data capturing, each suitable for a particular type data or source of data. This data capture method includes the use of different technologies such as OCR, ICR, OMR and others.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – OCR technology enables you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera into editable and searchable data.
- Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) – Intelligent Character Recognition technology is used to recognize and capture handwritten printed characters from image files.
- Optical Mark Reading (OMR) – OMR technology captures human marked data from documents such as forms and surveys. OMR has the capacity to differentiate between marked and unmarked boxes and thus, is used for capturing data through boxes that are checked manually on documents.
- Magnetic Ink character Recognition (MICR) – This data capture technology is capable of recognizing characters. It is a character recognition system that uses special ink and characters. When a document containing this ink needs to be read, it passes through a machine, which magnetizes the ink and then translates the magnetic information into characters. It is mainly used by banking industry to speed up the processing of checks and other documents.
- Magnetic Stripe Cards – They store data using magnetic properties of certain materials. They have stripes of iron-based magnetic materials on the card. Magnetic stripe cards are generally used for electronically storing particular numbers related to credit card, identity card etc. They enable automated data transfer when they are re-swiped in magnetic readers.
- Smart Cards – These are pocket-sized cards with embedded integrated circuits. They contain more memory than magnetic stripe cards and can be used for data related to personal identification, authentication, biometrics etc. They enable automated information transfer and data access upon interaction with suitable reading devices.
- Web Data Capture – This involves the capture of data from electronic forms through internet or intranet.
- Voice Recognition – It is the process of converting speech into text. The text can be simple text or a set of commands.
To choose the appropriate data capture method, you need a clear understanding of form, source, depth and quantum of data. Gathering details from forms and documents with numerous complex fields may not be an easy task to perform in-house. Outsourcing data capture tasks to a professional data entry company helps save time as well as money and allows businesses to focus on important activities. With expertise and advanced technology like optical character recognition (OCR), intelligent character recognition (ICR) and optical mark reading (OMR), a dedicated, professionally trained data capture team can capture data from files in any type of electronic or paper format and convert it into the format you require.