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The invention of punched card data processing in the 1890s created a demand for many workers, typically women, to run keypunch machines. It was common practice to insure accuracy by entering data twice, the second time on a verifier, a separate, keyboard-equipped machine, such the IBM 056. In the 1970s, punch card data entry was gradually replaced by the use of video display terminals. Due to the advancement of technology, many data entry clerks no longer work with hand-written documents. Instead, the documents are first scanned by a combined OCR/OMR system (optical character recognition and optical mark recognition,) which attempts to read the documents and process the data electronically. The accuracy of OCR, and hence the need for ongoing data entry clerks, varies widely based upon the quality of the original document as well as the scanned image. Although OCR technology is continually being developed, many tasks still require a data entry clerk to review the results afterwards to check the accuracy of the data and to manually key in any missed or incorrect information.

An example of this system would be one commonly used to document health insurance claims, such as for Medicaid in the United States. In many systems, the hand-written forms are first scanned into digital images (JPEG, png, bitmap, etc.). These files are then processed by the optical character recognition system, where many fields are completed by the computerized optical scanner. When the OCR software has low confidence for a data field it is flagged for review - not the entire record but just the single field. The data entry clerk then manually reviews the data already entered by OCR, corrects it if needed, and fills in any missing data by simultaneously viewing the image on-screen.

The accuracy of personal records, as well as billing or financial information, is usually of great importance to the general public as well as the health care provider. Sensitive or vital information such as this is often checked many times, by both clerk and machine, before being accepted.

Data acquisition is the process of sampling signals that measure real world physical conditions and converting the resulting samples into digital numeric values that can be manipulated by a computer. Data acquisition systems, abbreviated by the acronyms DAS or DAQ, typically convert analog waveforms into digital values for processing.

The components of data acquisition systems include:

  • Sensors, to convert physical parameters to electrical signals.
     

  • Signal conditioning circuitry, to convert sensor signals into a form that can be converted to digital values.
     

  • Analog-to-digital converters, to convert conditioned sensor signals to digital values.
     

  • Data acquisition applications are usually controlled by software programs developed using various general purpose programming languages such as Assembly, BASIC, C, C++, C#, Fortran, Java, LabVIEW, Lisp, Pascal, etc. Stand-alone data acquisition systems are often called data loggers.

There are also open-source software packages providing all the necessary tools to acquire data from different hardware equipment. These tools come from the scientific community where complex experiment requires fast, flexible and adaptable software. Those packages are usually custom fit but more general DAQ package like the Maximum Integrated Data Acquisition System can be easily tailored and is used in several physics experiments worldwide.

In 1963, IBM produced computers which specialized in data acquisition. These include the IBM 7700 Data Acquisition System, and its successor, the IBM 1800 Data Acquisition and Control System. These expensive specialized systems were surpassed in 1974 by general purpose S-100 computers and data acquisitions cards produced by Tecmar/Scientific Solutions Inc. In 1981 IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer and Scientific Solutions introduced the first PC data acquisition products.

Job security : The job is usually low-skilled, so veteran staff are often employed on a temporary basis after a large survey or census has been completed. However, most companies handling large amounts of data on a regular basis will spread the contracts and workload across the year and will hire part-time.

The role of data entry clerks working with physical hand-written documents is on the decline in the developed world, because employees within a company frequently enter their own data, as it is collected now, instead of having a different employee do this task. An example of this is an operator working in a call center or a cashier in a shop. Cost is another reason for the decline. Data entry is labor-intensive for large batches and, therefore, expensive, so large companies will sometimes outsource the work to third world countries where there is no shortage of cheaper unskilled labor.

Education and training : For the job as a data entry clerk, one must contain competent Math and English skills. The worker will need to be very familiar with office software such as word processors, databases, and spreadsheets. One must have quickness, focus, and great customer service skills. Education higher than a high school diploma is often not required, but some companies require a bachelor's degree. Companies also hope the worker will have one year of experience in a related field.

Outsourcing : In business, outsourcing involves the contracting out of a business process to another party (compare business process outsourcing). The concept "outsourcing" came from American Glossary 'outside resourcing' and it dates back to at least 1981. Outsourcing sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm to another, but not always. Outsourcing is also the practice of handing over control of public services to for-profit corporations. Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic contracting, and sometimes includes off shoring (relocating a business function to another country). Financial savings from lower international labor rates can provide a major motivation for outsourcing or off shoring.

The opposite of outsourcing, in sourcing, entails bringing processes handled by third-party firms in-house, and is sometimes accomplished via vertical integration. However, a business can provide a contract service to another business without necessarily in sourcing that business process.

Digital Data outsourcing : The digital workforce of countries like India and China are only paid a fraction of what would be minimum wage in the US. On average, software engineers are getting paid between 250,000 and 1,500,000 rupees ($4,000 to $23,000) in India as opposed to the $40,000-$100,000 in countries like US and Canada. In the last decade, Costa Rica has become a big source for outsourcing work. With advantages of counting with highly educated labor, big bilingual population, stable democratic government, the highest economic growth in Latin America added to the fact that it shares similar time zones as United States and it's only a few hours away, has made Costa Rica a big center for outsourcing. Companies such as Intel, Procter & Gamble, HP, Gensler, Amazon and Bank of America have big operations in Costa Rica. In the last 5 years there has been an exponential growth in this sector with companies offering outsourcing services in a wide range of activities, from banking and legal services to companies like Resources US, who is a pioneer in outsourcing services for Architecture firms in United States. However, unlike typical sweatshops and manufacturing plants, most of the digital workforce in developing countries have the flexibility to choose their working hours and which companies to work for. With many individuals telecommuting from home, the companies that require this type of work do not need to allocate additional funds for setting up of office space, management salary, and employee benefits as these individuals are contracted workers.

Data entry clerk : A data entry clerk, similar to a typist, is a member of staff employed to enter or update data into a computer system database, often from paper documents using a keyboard, optical scanner, or data recorder. The keyboards used can often have specialist keys and multiple colors to help in the task and speed up the work. While requisite skills can vary depending on the nature of the data being entered, few specialized skills are usually required, aside from touch typing proficiency with adequate speed and accuracy. The ability to focus for lengthy periods is necessary to eliminate or at least reduce errors. When dealing with sensitive or private information such as medical, financial or military records, a person's character and discretion becomes very relevant as well. Beyond these traits, no technical knowledge is generally required and these jobs can even be worked from home.

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