Physically logging movable assets with pen and paper used to be the standard. Everything from taking inventory to tracking who checked out an item, when it was checked out and when it is expected to be returned were all recorded and maintained manually.
Naturally, computers eased the process of asset tracking. But, it still required manual human input and physical counting of the assets to be entered into the asset management system. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software innovated the process by introducing automation into the management of organisational resources.
While ERP is still commonly used today, it comes with a certain disadvantage: it doesn’t efficiently track individual items. It is ideally suited for tracking a bulk of goods like retail inventory. Portable scanners became more prevalent, easing some of the burden. Unfortunately, most scanners required a physical connection to a computer, such as with a point-of-sale (POS) system. This allowed for interaction with ERP software, but it still created gaps in flexibility. Mobile computing changed the game once again, providing handheld devices that allowed the individual to travel to and from assets, unrestricted by a physical tether. Such mobile devices have integrated computer systems with their own memory capabilities, and they can often work without a network connection—storing and uploading scan data at the user’s convenience.
Today, smartphones and their high-resolution camera capabilities provide more innovative opportunities with simple applications that can scan barcodes of all types and send information to a central cloud repository.