How to extract data from semi-structured tables

Need to extract data from semi-structured tables? Rossum's got you covered. Watch this video guide to learn how to do it easily and effectively.

White paper: 5 benefits of artificial intelligence in data capture

In this white paper, we identify the biggest challenges in document data capture and explain how the cognitive field extraction can help companies save time and money, as well as improve accuracy and productivity of their accounting departments.

Extract tables from an image

The Economist published an article in which they demonstrated that data had become the most valuable resource in the world. Data generation occurs all the time in various business processes. The problem is not creating data but capturing it. Most business data is locked away in unstructured formats like images or PDF files. These formats, though readable by humans, are virtually useless to computers. So, how do you get the data from these files into databases, spreadsheets, and other applications?

This question has historically been answered with the word “manually.” In 90% of cases, businesses rely on manually retyping data from these files into programs like AP automation applications or accounting systems. So, if you searched online for “how to extract data from image”, “the best way to extract text from image online,” or “how to extract data from image graph”, this is how it is most often done. 

A data entry employee or a member of the department’s team sits down and manually reads the document. They then type the data within the document into the system. Practically, this means hours and hours are spent by teams processing invoices, purchase orders, packing lists, claims, and all other kinds of business documents. That is what traditional data capture looks like. 

However, there is a better way. An automated data extraction solution powered by OCR technology is another option for data capture. OCR stands for optical character recognition. It’s software designed to scan documents, capture the data, and then export that data into a structured format like Excel. OCR software is your answer to “what converts graph to data excel”. Or “how to extract data from an image in excel”. There are two different kinds of OCR technology you should be aware of. 

First, there is template-based OCR. This is the original OCR, and when it was developed, it brought huge improvements to the document processing space. Generally, it is a highly accurate way to capture data, providing there is low variability between documents. This is where the troubles begin. With each new vendor a company works with, a new template will need to be created for that vendor’s invoices and documents. This can cause scaling issues for larger companies. It can take hours to set up each new template, causing you more inefficiencies and delays. 

Second, there is Cognitive OCR. Cognitive OCR features artificial intelligence technology to rapidly deliver highly accurate data capture results. It is affordable and, unlike employees, requires no breaks and never gets distracted. Artificial intelligence can achieve up to 98% accuracy and can process documents far faster than manual processing ever could. Of all your options, using a cognitive OCR platform really is the best “extract table from image” solution.

How do I extract table from PDF?

This question is often asked by professionals who simply have too many PDF files on their hands. This is no surprise. To take one example, billions of invoices are processed every single year, and the majority of them are processed in PDF format. The PDF format is incredibly versatile and useful for a variety of purposes. However, getting data from PDF files into your database or accounting system can be a challenge. This makes finding an answer to the question, “how do I extract table from PDF” somewhat difficult. 

Capturing the data from business documents in formats like PDF is crucial. Not only can it help you improve the efficiency of your processes, but extracting this data and storing it in your own database makes it easier for you to access it later. This makes record-keeping for compliance purposes that much easier. Furthermore, putting this data into a structured format is the first step to fully automating these processes. Automating a business process like Accounts Payable can result in a huge savings of both time and money. 

Once again, if you searched for “how to extract table from PDF online,” the most common answer you’ll find is to simply do it manually. However, we’ve already gone through the shortcomings of that process. A far better choice is to use a cognitive OCR document processing solution like Rossum. Rossum provides the capability to extract tables from PDFs programmatically. Unlike other OCR solutions, Rossum features a very easy-to-use interface that will have you up and running in no time at all. Simply upload the PDF files directly into the platform, and Rossum will use its unique AI engine to “read” your invoices and business documents. The system then extracts your data automatically. 

One of the things that really sets a cognitive OCR solution apart is the speed. This means you can upload one document or several, and the entire process will still only take about 1 minute. This speed doesn’t sacrifice quality or accuracy either. Automation shouldn’t mean a loss of control which is why Rossum also includes an easy-to-use validation screen where you can make tweaks and adjustments with just a few clicks. 

Of course, if your business is smaller and you only have a small number of documents to process, you might be able to rely on manual processes or even template-based OCR for some time. The important thing to remember is that those methods of data capture are not sustainable in the long term, and to consider which options best serve your needs.  

Quickly converting image to Excel OCR

Are you curious about how to convert images to text in an Excel spreadsheet or how to convert pictures to excel? Although PDFs are one of the most commonly used formats for invoices and other business documents, you may only have an image of a document. This could be in a JPG or a PNG or any other kind of format. Like PDFs, image formats are challenging for systems to extract information from. Nonetheless, it’s essential to know how to convert the data in an image to a table in Excel. 

Aside from typing it manually, there are two fast ways to convert images to the Excel format or extract text from an image. The first is to find an image to Excel converter program. There are programs and scanning applications designed specifically to extract the data and convert it into that format. However, programs that only convert images to Excel may require a great deal of tweaking and often suffer from reliability issues. The best option is to look for an image to Excel OCR solution. 

OCR software comes in two types: template and cognitive. As we have already described, template OCR suffers from inefficiency problems. Creating new rules and correcting errors can cost your team hours in manual labor. With cognitive OCR solutions, you can do a batch conversion of many documents at once, speeding up the data capture process. Plus, the best AI-enabled data capture platforms are highly accurate and include the ability to “learn” over time. This means that each new scan will require less tweaking and error-correcting. 

One of the areas where AI-enabled data capture shines is in accounts payable (AP) automation. Statistics show the overwhelming majority of businesses are still relying on paper-based processes. In fact, currently, only 15% of companies have fully automated their AP processes. 

This means that there is an opportunity for you to get ahead of the competition by embracing digital transformation. By utilizing a solution like Rossum, you can collect all the data you need from invoices. Then, you can send that data straight to your accounts payable and, over time, build up to complete automation. This will save you and your AP team a lot of valuable time, which you can use to focus on ways to grow and improve your business. 

The best way to convert PDF image to Excel

The best image to Excel converter is a cognitive OCR solution. One great example of a platform like this is Rossum. Rossum helps companies automate data entry tasks with human-level accuracy and create significant savings for your business. 

When it comes to extracting data from PDFs to go into an Excel spreadsheet, Rossum’s Magic Grid feature makes it easy. Once you scan your invoice or another document, Rossum automatically identifies the table with its cells. However, the power of automation shouldn’t take away your power to control the process. That’s why Rossum allows you to add your own custom data fields as and when you choose. After the document is scanned, you can use the validation screen to refine the data capture.

Then, with just a few clicks, you can easily line up the rows and columns with the data. Once everything is ready to go, you can go ahead and hit the “read data from table” button. Whether your document contains hundreds of cells or just a few, Rossum can extract the data in mere seconds and export it to Excel or any other kind of structured data format. Additionally, as you use the Magic Grid feature, Rossum’s artificial intelligence technology learns more about the documents you need to process and will be able to extract the data more accurately over time. This means less validation work from you, giving you more time to focus on what matters.

See how your company can benefit from automated table data extraction.