For this particular blog post I would like to use a light-hearted approach to a major problem. The problem is lost productivity and user frustration around populating data into Line of Business applications via Manual Data Entry versus Automation.
To illustrate my point let’s take one of the most popular Software as a Service (SaaS) applications ever, Salesforce.com. And while the application is absolutely simple to use and easy to manage, what lacks is the ability to take information from paper and/or an image and put it directly into Salesforce.com database fields.
1. Let’s take a moment to go through the steps to import data into Salesforce.com and follow the steps Frankie-the-frustrated worker must take to get this task done.
2. Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“Frustrating! Step 1 of 7????”
3. Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“MORE FRUSTRATING!!! WASTING TIME!!!”
4. Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“MORE THAN EVER FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!!!
WASTING TIME, MONEY, AND ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!!”
5. Commentary of Frankie-the-frustrated worker:
“FORGET IT!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS WILL NEVER END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY IS IT LIKE THIS????? ISN’T THERE AN EASIER WAY????????????????”
Education and modern technology reduce Frankie’s frustration
Are we still living in the stone age when it comes to data entry into computer systems? Isn’t there a more efficient method to automatically populate data in your software application instead of costly manual data entry? It’s 2012 after all, not 1912. Why do we accept such primitive methods of data entry?
Answer: Because we need to educate the market on the capabilities of capture technologies. We also need to strive to make integration and usage as easy as possible. If you build it, they will come.
Eliminating Frankie’s frustration with Ubiquitous Information Capture
Realizing the dream of Ubiquitous Information Capture directly into applications is much easier than you might think but we must educate the market on current capabilities. The idea is simple, yet highly effective. Embed the ability to take photos with a smart phone and/or capture paper documents from a scanning device directly into your software application. Note that all I’ve done in the screen prints below is add a small icon of a camera and scanner directly into my CloudConnectMashup software application.
Now, I can offer my users a truly great user experience because contributing information is nearly effortless and removes pain associated with manual data entry. This translates directly into reduced operational costs, improved efficiencies and an overall better work environment.
Think about all the lost opportunities to drastically reduce labor costs, most likely in the billions if not trillions of dollars, associated with manual data entry in just the use cases below:
Transportation applications with Bills of Lading, Proof of Deliveries, Trip Sheet or Scale Tickets
Field Service applications with Proof of Work delivered, Vehicle Identification Number, Work Orders or Assessment documentation
Contracts Management applications with Amendments, Terms and Conditions or License Agreements
Invoice Management applications with Invoices, corresponding Packing Lists or Proof of Performance
Sales/Contact Relationship Management applications with Business Cards, Agreements or Correspondences
Do you know a Frankie in your organization? Do you have a story, good or bad, to tell? We’d love to hear your feedback.