The 9 Principles of Intelligent Data Capture

| Products & Solutions

Warehouse worker using intelligent data capture on a rugged smartphone.

Intelligent data capture is the process of collecting data efficiently and accurately from objects in the physical world, and turning it into real-time actionable insights. It enables real-time decision-making, engagement, and workflow automation at scale.

Intelligent data capture is also known as smart data capture.

Why intelligent data capture matters

We are used to taking data that has been collected digitally and using it to refine processes or products. Data from transactions or online searches, for example, is easily accessible in a way that is straightforward to benchmark and use.

However, understanding the lives of physical objects in the real world – from items of clothing to tools or medication – is harder to achieve. Items go missing in even the simplest supply chain. Staff easily lose track of products in a store or factory. (On average, 60% of SKUs are affected by inventory record inaccuracies.) Perishable items can be used in the wrong order, or components can turn up too late for their intended use.

Back-of-store employee searching for a box, illustrating the need for more intelligent data capture.

At the heart of this challenge is the often overlooked problem of data capture – how we collect and act on data relating to physical objects.

Because, unfortunately, data capture has not kept pace with other elements of data management. Manual data collection processes and asynchronous ways to access data about physical assets and processes still predominate.

Think of, for example:

  • A stockroom employee forced to scan hundreds of barcodes one at a time
  • A sales associate spending an hour reconciling inventory discrepancies rather than helping customers
  • A long queue at a departure gate because the gate agent is checking IDs manually
  • A retail manager with incomplete information about their inventory pipeline because the previous day’s scans were inaccurate
  • A compliance officer struggling to account for deliveries of age-restricted goods due to incomplete ID checking records.

In our personal lives, we’re empowered with data at our fingertips on one device all day, every day. Why can’t the same be true for every delivery driver, store associate, gate agent, compliance officer, retail manager and many more?

Networks have evolved to now offer gigabit connectivity, devices have evolved to now give us mixed reality, driverless vehicles and drones are becoming feasible, and consumers’ insatiable appetite to do more digitally will continue to see exponential growth; it is about time the capture of data evolves too. Every vertical should be thinking about smart data capture as traditional ways can no longer support the growing demands of today’s workforce. All businesses today should not solely be focussed on cost reductions, but instead use technology to drive revenue and empower the workforce in tandem as part of a two-fold approach for workplace transformation.

Paolo Pescatore, Founder, TMT Analyst at PP Foresight

The 9 principles of intelligent data capture

We believe that data capture can be more intelligent. And we believe that today, we have the technology to transform data capture.

For over 10 years, Scandit has been uncovering smarter ways to capture data. Through this, we have developed 9 principles of an effective intelligent data capture strategy across people, process and technology.

Intelligent data capture principles: People

1. Shift tedious work from people to technology

Intelligent data capture does not seek to replace human employees, but to make their jobs more rewarding and productive. It gives them more time to be human, by dealing with repetitive tasks such as scanning hundreds of barcodes in a warehouse faster and more accurately than people alone can.

2. Upskill frontline workers

Intelligent data capture not only gives frontline workers more time, but provides data-based insights that empower employees to utiliize the skills that machines cannot match: empathy, judgement and problem-solving. That improves customer service, reduces issues that stem from a lack of information, and makes life better for both staff and customers.

3. Empower customers everywhere

Smarter data capture is the key to unlock consumer benefits. Specific product information can be accessed by scanning a barcode with a smartphone; promotions and personalized offers can be accessed as easily in-store as when shopping online. Real time offers, perhaps linked to stock levels, can be targeted at loyal customers when they are in a position to respond.

Intelligent data capture principles: Process

4. Design for humans

Spreadsheets at head office aren’t much use to frontline workers at the coalface. Intelligent data capture presents information to them on the same devices they use all day, in a user-friendly way (often using augmented reality) that helps get their jobs done. Delivery drivers, warehouse staff or retail assistants can merge their physical and digital workflows seamlessly.

5. Give data instant purpose and value

For data to be useful, it must be present. Giving insights to employees in real time, when they can do something with the knowledge, is how companies can truly benefit from the data they hold.

Rather than identifying what went wrong through historic data, they can make things go right first time with real-time insights.

Capture Value, Not Data

Read the full Smart Data Capture Manifesto.
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6. Make data capture versatile and resilient

Intelligent systems are versatile systems. Smart data capture systems powered by artificial intelligence cut through the chatter of multiple labels, barcodes and QR codes to establish what items are, where they have been and where they need to go – without the need for human intervention. Crucially, the systems automatically adapt to different conditions so that human operatives don’t have to.

Intelligent data capture principles: Technology

Last-mile delivery worker using intelligent data capture to scan and validate an ID using a smartphone.

7. Use integrated, multi-modal data capture platforms

The real world is unstructured and variable and no single data capture technology is right for every scenario and use case. Intelligent data capture systems are flexible and combine multiple data capture methods (for example, barcode scanning, text recognition, object recognition and ID scanning) to provide a more precise and useful view of the world.

8. Use any smart device, anywhere, any time

Intelligent data capture is a software rather than a hardware strategy. Rather than individual devices being driven by proprietary software, intelligent data capture software runs on any programmable device with a camera. Smartphones, tablets, dedicated scanners, fixed cameras, wearable devices, robots, drones and more can all function within a device-agnostic intelligent data capture system.

9. Reach beyond human limitations

The greatest benefits often come from a combination of computing power with human adaptability and energy. Intelligent data capture goes beyond what unaided humans are capable of, even in optimum conditions and with all the time in the world.

For example, modern fake IDs are hard to detect with the naked eye, and the time available to check them is also being squeezed by consumer demand for frictionless experiences. Intelligent data capture can analyze hundreds of characteristics of an ID and provide easy-to-understand results in just 1 second.

The Smart Data Capture Manifesto

Want to know more? These intelligent data capture principles are part of Scandit’s Smart Data Capture Manifesto.

Reimagining how employees, customers and businesses interact with the physical world is the key that will unlock true digital transformation of the physical industries that make up 75% of the world’s $100 trillion GDP.

Ready to join the next technology revolution?

Enterprises have accelerated their digital transformation efforts over the last few years, but one key area is lagging, namely the capture of data in the physical world. Smart data capture is a compelling solution to overcome this challenge at scale while leveraging the devices we all carry in our pockets.

Steven Dickens, VP and Practice Leader, Futurum Group