What is OCR?

OCR Explained in 60 Seconds

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is an essential tool for any business burdened by manual data entry. Imagine making decisions from data trapped in mountains of paper. Or having to key-in information from an electronic file because it is a flat image (not searchable text). An OCR capture software solution automatically extracts data from an electronic document image and makes it come alive. No more time wasted with hand-keying data. You have real live data that you can act on and integrate into your existing systems.

Common Capture Technology Terms

To help you better understand the complex world of capture, let’s start with some basics. Depending on the type of data you need to extract, there are different technologies available. For example, OCR, ICR, OMR and Intelligent Capture are the most common.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

A common misconception of OCR software is it can extract all data types. In reality, an OCR’s sole use is for extracting machine-printed text. These solutions may be template-driven or paired with artificial intelligence. With the addition of artificial intelligence, your system can read and extract data without templates (like a human).

Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR)

ICR software reads handwritten characters by using artificial intelligence. Depending upon the document type, this may be done through boxes or comb-fields.

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)

You can use Optical Mark Recognition software to determine a selection from a list of choices. This list could include checked boxes and filled circles.

Intelligent Capture Software

This new category of capture software contains all of the technology capabilities of OCR, ICR and OMR into one solution. Intelligent Capture solutions can handle many data types. For example, intelligent capture can read machine-printed text, handwritten text, checkboxes, radio buttons, and barcodes.

Where to Use OCR Software

OCR capture can be helpful virtually everywhere in your organization. While it’s a popular process solution in accounts payable departments, OCR aids other departments too. Start asking questions of these processes with business owners such as:

  • Are there departments that regularly process large quantities of paper or electronic documents?
  • How many human touch points happen within that process?
  • What areas manually enter data into systems?
  • Where does information need to go when it enters the process?
  • Does the information need to be routed through a specific system or person? How does it get there?

OCR Solution Results

Free yourself from manual data entry and unlock more free time. Intelligent and advanced OCR solutions can instantly validate and transfer extracted information into content management, ERP, and other business systems. In your usual business systems, you can easily search, analyze, act upon, and synchronize the data with existing data elements. As a result of the time gained from streamlining these processes, you and your staff can attend to more high-value tasks.

Keeping track of paper documents and passing them around between workers is inherently risky. Especially when you are handling confidential information. This technology can integrate with your content management system or ERP/HRIS systems. You enhance security further by automating the way you manage critical and sensitive documents. Intelligent OCR capture also features a log of user activity and approvals. This log is a handy feature to keep workers accountable and provide you with an audit trail.

As talented as your staff is, they are only human. Because of this, costly human error can occur. OCR capture lowers the risk for your business. You can trust this technology to do the job correctly because it can identify and accurately process a wide variety of documents.

Keeping heaps of paper documents will hold your company back from success. So why not rid your business of that burden with a scalable solution like OCR capture? You’ll find that OCR can keep up with your organization’s changing needs. These solutions can apply what they learn along the way to document changes and expand to new areas of your organization as needed.

An OCR capture solution can also help your organization grow. Through artificial intelligence and machine learning, Intelligent OCR capture can see patterns and identify critical information and insights. Through education, the system can better itself and apply the knowledge to new situations. Additionally, it can locate imperfections and adapt to slightly different documents. All these abilities enable the technology to be proactively future thinking. As a result, your company thrives and can navigate challenges.

The ROI of Intelligent OCR capture technologies typically is 12-18 months, but some companies see results even faster.

Your staff has so much to offer. What a waste for them to devote hours to mind-numbing and tedious tasks such as data entry each week. Fortunately, OCR capture speeds up manual tasks. Your employees can accomplish more in less time. Now, they will have time to channel their talents and unique expertise towards more worthwhile duties.

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