When you are the nation’s leading provider of registration services to many of the world’s top event organizers, speed, efficiency, and accuracy are vital to your success. CompuSystems is a registration services provider to events such as CES (the Consumer Electronics Show), the SEMA show (Speed Equipment Manufacturing Association), and E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo). In addition to event registration services, CompuSystems also provides event data analytics, attendance promotion, and event lead management services to the vendors attending the show.
These shows can attract between 60,000-175,000 people every year, with all attendees requiring a registration badge, including a barcode that is scanned at various points throughout the show. The magnitude of this undertaking is clear—and it’s huge!
Advances in mobile technology impact nearly every industry—event organization and management is no exception. Since mobile phones are now ever-present in the hands of event attendees, the business model has changed, including the way that data is collected and analyzed. According to Mike Blazejewski, Sr. VP of Onsite Operations at CompuSystems, "We used to make a sizeable investment in physical scanning hardware, but now that has shifted to software. We needed a solid software-based way of scanning barcodes on consumer devices."
CompuSystems also soon discovered that cameras on consumer devices vary greatly because no two devices are the same. They needed a solution that could empower even the lowest-quality smartphones and tablets to scan just like higher-end devices. In addition, the solution needed to appease customers who prefer using personal devices, and the solution needed to be as fast, accurate, and reliable as a traditional physical barcode scanner.
They knew they needed to find a barcode scanning solution that would work with different devices and be compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems. It also had to capably scan a variety of barcode symbologies for diverse events and uses. While the market offered several "free" options claiming to meet their requirements, CompuSystems quickly discovered these apps fell far short in reality. These free options didn’t focus on enterprise-grade barcode scanning with the speed, consistency, and accuracy their business required.
Customer satisfaction was the main reason CompuSystems was searching for an improved barcode scanning solution. "We needed a better product that just worked with minimal effort required from the end user," Blazejewski recalled. They had heard about Code and their CortexDecorder® SDK for software-based barcode reading. They reached out to Code and presented the problems they had encountered. Among the issues presented were the camera’ varying performances, the variety of barcode symbologies that needed to be scanned, and the speed and accuracy that absolutely had to be present.
"Speed is most important. We often need to scan 200+ people within a matter of minutes, so we needed to make a consumer-grade phone or tablet scan as fast as a laser scanner," Blazejewski added. Access control is a big issue at major events. Not every attendee can visit every area, so barcode scanning accuracy is critical. Another area CompuSystems oversees is lead retrieval for exhibitors. CompuLead (part of CompuSystems) is the lead retrieval system that lets exhibitors use a smartphone to scan the badges of attendees who visit their booths. Exhibitors need the same barcode reading speed and accuracy as those scanning registration or entrance badges.
Code was able to provide the CortexDecoder SDK as part of CompuSystem’s mobile scanning solution and as part of their Lead Retrieval app. "It performed the fastest, and exhibitors raved about the ease of scanning badges," Blazejewski said. "We deployed several scan engines on mobile devices at tradeshows and did benchmark testing as well as obtained customer feedback. Code’s CortexDecoder was the clear winner." Integration was "quite effortless," he said. "Code was there when needed, and any issues we uncovered were given attention right away."
When CompuSystems first switched from laser scanners to smartphones, there was some customer hesitation. Moving from a simple point-and-click barcode scanner to a smartphone app seemed awkward to some customers in the beginning. However, they were quickly won over by the fast and efficient scanning offered by CortexDecoder. "Faster scanning equals happy customers. At the end of the show cycle, when it is time to renew contracts, this is always a hot topic," Blazejewski emphasized. "As simple as scanning a barcode may sound, it can make or break companies like us. At our post-show meetings, scanning is never a topic of concern anymore."
Along with faster scanning, CompuSystems also reported more precise data being captured. Prior to using CortexDecoder, scans of attendees’ badges would be missed because of misreads or other scanning difficulties. This meant customers received incomplete or inaccurate data. Said Blazejewski, "Once we implemented CortexDecoder, we and our clients were more confident in the data we were collecting because we can see firsthand how well the scanning is going at their events."
Blazejewski summarized, "The fact that we can turn a mobile consumer device into an enterprise-grade barcode scanner is a game changer for us. There is no more need to invest $1 million+ in new scanning hardware every few years. We can essentially take 'throw away’ consumer devices and make them into great barcode scanners." They were also pleased with the number of symbologies that CortexDecoder could handle. "Code was the only vendor with software that read all the types of barcodes needed and did it fast and accurately," he stated.
When asked if CompuSystems had any advice for anyone looking at CortexDecoder for their barcode scanning solution, Blazejewski commented, "Just do it. We are amazed at what expert barcode scanning software can do. We can take a $100 Android tablet or phone and turn it into an incredible scanning device." In addition, he said, "Utilize the Code engineering team. We never felt alone in the process. It’s been a great experience overall."