OCR and AI: How modern automated processing works
OCR AI is changing the game for OCR solutions. Here’s how modern automated processing works.
OCR stands for optical character recognition. Its history can be traced back to the late 1800s, when machines that could read were first theorized as a way to help the blind. The fundamental ideas behind OCR grew to represent any kind of machine that can digitize and process text to convert it into machine-readable forms.
Later on, OCR tools were created and used for scanning barcodes, price tags, identification cards, and passports. Today, OCR technology is operated by a wide range of businesses and institutions to reduce their reliance on manual data entry and to cut down on the amount of paperwork bogging down their departments.
OCR can massively improve the efficiency of your document data capture processes. Whether your business receives invoices, purchase orders, packing lists, claims, or any other transactional documents, OCR can help you process these documents. In most organizations, these documents arrive at your business in physical form or as PDFs.
Neither of these formats is machine-readable, which means that your business systems cannot access the vital data in those documents without some kind of processing. In manual data capture, employees type by hand each data point into another system, such as your ledger, ERP software, accounting system, or CRM software. Instead of this time-consuming and inefficient process, you could automatically process these documents using a platform with optical character recognition functionality.
OCR can be divided into two primary categories. The first is called template-based OCR. In template-based OCR, software scans and extracts text data based on carefully predefined rules and templates. Its accuracy has improved beyond its early days and is now widely used in environments where there is minimal variability in the form or style of documents. For example, the IRS can use template-based OCR to significant effect because the forms they process are entirely identical.
However, enterprise organizations often have to process documents that have a great deal of variability. For instance, you might think that all invoices are alike, but in reality, each vendor has a different style and format that can completely throw off template-based data capture. This can dramatically reduce the OCR accuracy of your data extraction.
The other kind of OCR technology is cognitive OCR or OCR AI. Cognitive OCR relies on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to get better accuracy regardless of document variability. Recent developments with AI have amplified OCR’s utility thanks to higher accuracy and greater speed.
With the benefit of the best OCR software, human supervision is no longer needed at every step. The best OCR scanner app is one that suits your business’s particular needs. An OCR scanner software that also is powered by machine learning can help you save costs and streamline your document processing.
AI OCR online
For many businesses, cloud-based tools and technology can be highly beneficial. The cloud provides remote access, is highly secure, and provides more affordable scalability. There are many AI OCR online options in the market that you could utilize at your business. Some platforms are specifically designed to support enterprises dealing with large numbers of documents, while others are more experimental and possess lower levels of accuracy.
For example, there is a Google OCR online option that comes in the form of the Vision AI tool. In order to get access to this tool, you will need a subscription to the Google Cloud platform. This tool can be used to process documentation.
However, studies have shown that Vision AI is not as accurate as other options. Other tools provide specific format conversions. These can be useful depending on the specific needs of your business. For example, some platforms offer OCR PDF to Word conversion functionality. For a deep dive into OCR and document data capture, take a look at OCR online PDFs that you can download for free.
There are also several other resources here on our website that explore these topics in detail and can give you a more comprehensive overview of how this technology can help your business cut costs and grow.
OCR software for PC
If your organization is not interested in investing in cloud-based OCR technology, there are many sites that list what they believe is the best OCR software for Windows 10. Although these sites can be helpful, you should be aware that many of them may be in affiliate partnerships that bias their reviews. That’s why it is better to find independent review sites when comparing OCR software for Windows 10.
One example of an excellent site for this is Gartner. Gartner provides detailed reports and analysis on a variety of OCR software for PC, Mac, or cloud. One of the more popular reports they provide is called the Magic Quadrant for OCR tools. This report scores each vendor and places them into one of four positions: Leader, Visionary, Niche Player, and Challenger, based on a number of factors.
However, it’s important to note that locally run software is far less scalable than cloud-based tools. If you hire a new employee who needs to use or access the platform, the program will need to be downloaded and installed onto their computer. The computer also has to have a compatible operating system. By contrast, cloud-based OCR software is compatible with any operating system that has browser access.
Best OCR software for invoice processing
Not all online OCR software is created equal. Some programs are designed to focus on extracting text data from handwriting or even from photographs of things like car license plates. If you would like to find the best OCR software for invoice processing, there are a few characteristics you should be looking for:
- Accuracy Rate
- Amount of Required Human Supervision
- Table Extraction Features
- Pre-Trained Machine Learning Features
- Robust Artificial Intelligence Engine.
Automatic OCR won’t save you much time if you have to spend a lot of time correcting the output of every document. That’s why the accuracy rate is crucial. This also ties into the amount of required human supervision. How much automation is the tool actually offering? Table extraction is vital because line items on invoices are often arranged in a table format.
Historically, OCR has struggled to extract tables accurately. However, research and experimentation have led to new AI-powered algorithms that can achieve much more accuracy. Rossum is an excellent example of a robust AI OCR platform that includes a Magic Grid feature explicitly designed for extracting data from tables.
The Rossum AI-engine also comes pre-trained to be able to recognize thousands of document types right out of the box. It really does have all the features of the best online OCR.
OCR software can address many of the flaws that tend to creep into workflows that rely on manual data entry. Some of the key metrics to pay attention to when it comes to document processing include:
- Cost per document
- Processing time per document
- Cost of errors
- Rate of duplicate documents
- Quantity of document-related inquiries.
By tracking these factors, you can get a better understanding of where you and your team are currently at in terms of data capture and where you can improve. A cloud OCR platform can be accessed from any device with a mobile browser and can improve your performance across every single one of these categories.
The Google OCR tool, Vision AI, is an OCR software that can be useful in certain situations; however, it is not truly designed for use in business environments. Rossum, on the other hand, is a solution focused on business document processing. Our platform is also an intelligent document processing (IDP) platform, meaning that it has all the features you need to streamline your document collection, analysis, and extraction processes.
OCR software examples
If you are curious about what OCR is in computer technology, comparing the different OCR offerings may be a good idea. In addition to Vision AI and Rossum, there are a variety of other OCR software examples you can compare to find the solution that’s best for your business. Some tools are free, while others are paid.
The free tools can work in specific instances but often fail to possess the kinds of features your business needs for long-term data capture on large quantities of documents. There are many sites that offer lists of the best optical character recognition software. These can be useful for getting an idea of the options you have at your disposal.
Best OCR software for handwriting recognition
In addition to tables, handwriting is another aspect to be aware of when it comes to data capture. Sometimes, vital business data is recorded in writing on physical documents. Everyone’s handwriting is different. This makes it very difficult for machines to scan and accurately extract handwritten text.
The best OCR software for handwriting recognition has been trained with thousands of examples of different handwriting styles. With this context, OCR AI software could more accurately extract the data from those handwritten fields.
Ultimately, any business that processes large amounts of documents requires some kind of OCR converter if they want to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced digital world. People are no longer satisfied with the 1-2 week wait times created by old workflows. The right OCR solutions powered by artificial intelligence can help you not only meet but exceed the expectations of your vendors and your customers.
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