The digital world gradually overlaps and communicates with its physical counterpart, as computer chips become smaller and more integrated. A few examples of how the digital world builds on and even alters the physical world are; the easy availability of smartphones, the emergence of big data and the Internet of Things, and applied virtual reality technologies within gaming, education, and manufacturing.
The real world covers everything around us, including tangible goods that we use every day, the towns and communities in which we live, our workplaces, field positions, and the utilities, sensors, and equipment that sustain them. Although it may not always feel like it, almost 100% of the time we live in the physical world, even though it is continuously influenced by the digital world.
Unlike the physical universe that has existed for thousands and thousands of years, the digital world was only created with the invention of the computer in the 1950s. Although digital access was once limited to government departments, most of us now regularly engage with the digital world through our computers and mobile devices. All that is stored in the cloud consists of the digital realm: personal and business data, including emails, documents, spreadsheets, videos, images, and all the metadata that surrounds them.
The benefits of using the digital world to change or keep track of the physical world are now understood by many organizations, and physical processes are digitized to eliminate human flaws, inefficiencies, and discrepancies. For instance, a manufacturer can develop a barcode scanning system that allows for quick and accurate real-time data collection during the distribution process. Replacing the physical, analog pen and paper method with a digitized approach not only helps to ensure more detailed data collection, but it also provides new capabilities such as instant access to past information, digital analytics, and trend analysis.
While businesses are increasingly adopting hierarchical digitization, it is not always possible to create personalized digital workflows from the ground up for individual process owners. No-code application development platforms are stepping in to provide non-technical workers with the resources they need to link the physical with the digital, as a lack of technical coding expertise can sometimes impede progress for teams that rely on analog processes.
Here are a few aspects in which business apps can help bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds, while increasing speed, accuracy, and visibility, to minimize complexity and error.
Rich data collection: Clear and accurate data collection, particularly within industries such as construction, manufacturing, and utilities, is essential for day-to-day operations. By digitally recording information including GPS coordinates, collecting and construing images, accepting signatures, and scanning bar-codes for instant data entry, apps can optimize data collection methods. With the ability to operate offline when a data or internet connection is not available, digital apps power 24/7 data collection. As soon as a connection is restored, the acquired knowledge from the real world will sync to the digital world, which ensures the physical-world evidence does not slip between the gaps even though a digital connection is momentarily inaccessible.
Process automation: By integrating automation and customization into physical workflows, digitization can further optimize operational processes. Apps, for example, will automatically record physical-world data, convert it into the desired digital format, and alert relevant departments at designated times within the firm. Apps can help teams generate dynamic reports that update with concurrent data flows, as well as tailored campaigns centered on team members, managers, and consumers' digitally recorded tasks.
Actionable insights: Merging the real and digital realms help to identify practical insights for corporations that can transform operations, processes, and even market models. In real time, digitized data can be processed, tracked, recorded, and updated, and exchanged through charts, maps, and galleries via automated notification workflows and personalized dashboards. Apps may be directly merged with legacy software for greater comprehensive analysis through data types and channels, or exported to sync with existing external systems.
When market leaders and process owners will simultaneously make more intelligent choices about their employees, their clients, and their organizations, the continuous and streamlined integration of the physical and digital environments provides possibilities for insight. When process owners are able to eliminate the distance between the physical and the digital, fewer objects are missed, procedures can be shared and performed uniformly, and teams can accomplish targets of greater ease, precision and visibility.
AppSheet is a platform that provides ease in developing such applications to connect both the physical and digital realms.