If you’ve explored Optical Character Recognition (OCR) over the years, you may be skeptical of the power of today’s processing solutions. Previous generations of OCR software were sub-par at best, delivering general purpose content that was often riddled with errors and inaccuracies. After a few trials, many business and technology leaders would go back to doing it the old-fashioned way — through manual data processing. Today’s OCR tech has advanced dramatically, providing a higher quality of result at a faster rate and a reduced overall price. When you add in the value of advanced AI and machine learning, you have a data collection tool that can catapult your business to success.
The Evolution of OCR
Traditional business requirements include the ability to accurately enter and manipulate data from invoices, purchase orders and shipping manifests into a database for future use. Generic OCR is what many businesses attempted to use in the past. However, today’s OCR is radically different. The machine learning capabilities with general OCR are limited or nonexistent, while advanced OCR includes multiple levels of checks and balances and incorporates a variety of well-defined business rules. Using OCR technology has been a multi-step process in the past that includes scanning, transfer of the data to the application and ultimately verification of the data. With advanced OCR, many of these same challenges can be overcome in seconds — providing you with usable output that quickly scales based on your needs.
Infinitely Scalable, Quantifiably Accurate
Data is the foundation of many businesses today, and ensuring that your data is accurate requires an exceptional level of detail — something that simply cannot be achieved from a manual data entry process, but is innate to an automated OCR process. This can be an expensive asset to scale, as adding human resources includes not only the cost of their salary but also benefits, space at your location and technology support for their needs. The accuracy rate of human data entry clerks is around 96%, and clerks are rarely able to translate more than 20 pages of text per hour. Contrast this with advanced OCR which can process 20 pages of data in seconds at a 98% accuracy rate — and without requiring expensive benefits. The ability to infinitely and accurately scale your data entry means your business will not be constrained as you grow.
Advanced Data Analysis
When you have multiple data entry clerks working on the same project, you are likely to develop inconsistencies in the data. This challenge simply doesn’t exist with advanced OCR technologies, as this data is analyzed and transferred to the final system completely without bias and with the same business rules applied each time. An added bonus is the machine learning aspect of OCR. When correctly configured, your OCR system will be able to spot trends in consumer data that might have been missed by data clerks who do not see the full picture of the data.
Automating Daily Tasks
Ultimately, optical character recognition software is simply a mechanism for ingesting and transforming data into usable input for various systems. The true power of these interconnected systems is seen when the machine learning and automation layers are applied. Automation allows you to streamline your business workflows in ways that you may not have considered in the past. For instance, a vendor invoice becomes not only data for your payment processing or accounting system, but also a way to receive critical updates that need to go to your sales team or operations group. With OCR technology, you’re not asking a data clerk to make that analysis and jump between systems for data entry. You’re simply processing the invoice based on pre-defined business rules — a big savings in the time and effort required for daily tasks.
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