Data is as equally-weighted a strategic corporate resource as capital, seeing that our economy has shifted from one of industry to one of information.  Having an efficient data collection system in place is vital for the survival and growth of any business.  Employees should have the ability to gather data about customers and potential leads regularly, digitally, and in real-time in order to gain a competitive edge.


The Cost of Poor Data Collection

Ample research has been done that indicates the staggering high costs for businesses associated with compiling low-quality data.  The Data Warehousing Institute estimates that data quality problems cost U.S. businesses more than $600 billion a year.  In a report series published by the Institute titled “Data Quality and the Bottom Line”, author Wayne Eckerson outlines seven characteristics that experts cite as attributes of high-quality data.  These are accuracy, integrity (Is the structure of data and relationships among entities and attributes maintained consistently?), consistency, completeness, validity (Do data values fall within acceptable ranges defined by the business?), timeliness, and accessibility (Is the data easily accessible, understandable, and usable?).  Businesses should do everything in their power to ensure that the most conducive system possible for aggregating high-quality data is in place.

Part of the problem with collecting high-quality data is that it deteriorates rapidly.  By the time a field rep has manually gathered information from a client and delivered it to the back office for analysis, it is already outdated.  Furthermore, manual data entry is highly subject to human error.  Mobile software solutions are available that provide a cure for this dilemma.  Field reps who amass data via their mobile devices are able to store it in the cloud where it becomes instantly accessible to back office management for review and analysis.  Reps can also proactively check the health of client data by filling out customized digital forms and updating contact information of key personnel directly using a mobile application such as a Field Activity Management software solution.  Collecting and updating client data with a mobile software solution streamlines the entire process for field reps and back office managers alike.

How Can Businesses Leverage Data?

Real-time data collection allows managers to hold employees accountable for their performance on the job, in addition to compiling valuable information about current customers and leads.  From a management perspective, real-time mobile data collection is beneficial because managers can observe where reps are traveling throughout the day and what types of activities they are performing at a given location.  Without a mobile software solution, managers would have to wait until the end of the day or week to learn about the tasks field reps performed.  Employees benefit from mobile data collection as well because they can be more easily recognized for their work and have evidence in their favor if client complaints arise. Tracking time and mileage can also be accomplished with a mobile solution, eliminating the need for physical forms, which is helpful for both managers and employees.

Having data collected instantly and stored in the cloud allows for analysis at the back office to occur faster than ever before.  What’s more, instant messaging functions available on some mobile software solutions can help field reps solve problems immediately in order to more ably serve clients.  Software solutions equipped with customizable forms let employees gather data that is unique and relevant to each individual client or lead and deliver that data to managers in real-time.  Knowing as much as possible about a specific client aids an organization’s ability to meet that client’s needs, thus improving customer relations and giving your business an upper hand over the competition.

By automating the customer data collection process to take place in real-time, businesses can stop wasting time and money on physical paperwork.  Furthermore, businesses that employ a proficient system of data collection will be able to learn as much as possible about their clients and leads.  This knowledge puts businesses at an advantage when it comes to serving their clients.  Constant acquisition and maintenance of customer data is vital to the health of any modern business.