Wireless Webforms Inc. From paper to pocket PC Wireless product streamlines mobile data collection
When the Indiana Bureau of Child Care was looking for an electronic solution to collecting data for licensing child care facilities, it turned to Wireless Webforms.
A spin-off of Indianapolis-based computer technology firm Consultants Consortium Inc., the company uses technology to automate field-based data collection. The paperless system allows mobile workers to collect data and transmit it back to their offices, thereby eliminating the need to re-enter data.
The consortium has been working with state government since 1999 to develop and implement software systems. Along the way, the partners realized their product could "easily be generalized for any industry needing this type of data collection," said Wireless Webforms Vice President Tom Krause.
"Whether they're in government, sales, food distribution or any other field that needs to collect data in the field and get it back quickly to their organization, we can help with that," he said.
Krause, who has more than 20 years of experience in the information technology field, runs business operations. He moved over from the consortium in January 2006 after working as its general manager since 2001.
He describes the wireless tool as a "base application" similar to Microsoft Excel.
"Within Excel, you can write spreadsheets, macros and other applications," Krause said. "Wireless Webforms is a fundamental application that's easy to use and solutions can be developed for any vertical [niche] market."
Krause, 46, said lots of time was spent writing and testing a system that's easily adaptable and cost-effective.
Clients pay a $349 one-time licensing fee and a $35 per-month provider fee for each device. Additional charges for equipment and form development vary.
Krause and his staff will create a sample form for a business and prepare a demonstration showing how the product works. Because the demo can be done online, travel is minimal.
"It means a lot to look at their own form and understand how it works when they're evaluating us," Krause said.
Mike Steely, president of Little Rock, Ark.-based Global Floor Safety, is sold on the Wireless Webforms technology. He met Krause at a trade show and asked him to come up with a remote application that would calculate the square footage of a floor, allowing employees to immediately assess what products are needed and provide a proposal on the spot.
"This is completely different in this industry," Steely said. Before using the mobile devices, he said, "staff would go out and measure areas with tape measures and then have to go back to the office to write up an estimate and make an appointment to go back and present it."
Steely said using the Wireless Webforms technology allows his company to get the attention of large organizations.
Michelle Thomas, administrator of the state Family and Social Services Administration's Bureau of Child Care, said Wireless Webforms has streamlined the "very complicated checklists" inspectors use for child care facility licensing allowing her staff to do more inspections because they don't have to do double data entry, she said. "What used to take four weeks to get entered is now taking a day."
Because this is a "cutting-edge industry," Krause said, new players are popping up all the time.
"The market is very young not only for our company, but for others like us," Krause said. "The ability to get a good foothold and establish relationships with key market players will be critical to us."