Data entry is a task that is becoming ubiquitous in almost every business regardless of industry. Accuracy of the data that’s input has always been important. In past decades, most of the data entry was manual and was prone to human errors. Over the past 50 years, though, the means of entering data has increasingly moved to automated methods. As these methods have matured, data entry has become faster which has led, either directly or indirectly, to storing more and more data electronically.
With today’s technology, massive amounts of data can be entered into systems at a high rate. “Big Data” is the term used to describe the systems that have been developed to store this data and facilitate large-scale processing and analysis of it.
Data entry errors, however, remain a problem. Even (or perhaps especially?) automated systems can create errors in the data. The errors are typically different than those made by a person though.
For automated systems, some of the common causes of errors are:
1) The system can’t recognize the language a document is written in.
2) The system can’t recognize the text due to colors or backgrounds on the document.
3) The font of the document is a special or fancy font.
4) The layout of the document makes it difficult to recognize the text.
5) The printed quality of a document is poor (badly printed or photocopied).
6) The document is damaged (wrinkled, weathered, stained).
7) The document was scanned at an angle or was skewed.
The reason these aspects of a document or its scanned image affect automated systems is the same reason that many websites use CAPTCHAs. CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) rely on the relative inability of computers to recognize text that is not pristine. Humans, on the other hand, are much better at figuring out what letters and numbers are displayed despite warping, obscuring, colors, or other modifications.
Despite automated data entry’s cost and time savings, there are times when manual data entry is required. If documents have any of the problems listed above, they may be better handled by a person. Other times, data needs to be entered a specific way that would be too time-consuming (or impossible) to configure the automated system to do.
Obviously, as a customer of a data entry service, you don’t have control over all of these potential issues. You should, however, try to ensure that the quality , condition, and clarity of the documents is the best possible. This will maximize cost savings and turnaround time while minimizing the amount of manual entry, double checking, and correcting.