The ultimate analysis of OCR solutions

In this guide, we focus on everyone’s favorite subject: the cost. Because one way or another, the more business a company does, the more documents it has to deal with. We unwrap the real Total Cost of Ownership of three basic approaches to data entry – a manual process, template-based OCR solutions, and AI-based cognitive data capture.

But it’s not just about a particular price tag. We are going to unravel an analytical framework that you can take and apply to your business to dramatically reduce the costs associated with data extraction.

The ultimate analysis of data capture

How AI OCR solutions work

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Everything you need to know about OCR solutions

Despite all the advances in technology, many invoices in the world are still processed manually. Tedious, paper-based tasks cost too much to manage and can demotivate your team members. 

As this problem grows, the potential for human error on the part of your employees increases, making it more likely that your important business processes are disrupted by mistakes. 

Fortunately, there is a way to eliminate these manual tasks through automation. Automating business processes allows you to bring your business more fully into the digital age and can free up your resources so that your team can focus on the activities that can bring real growth to your company. 

However, in order to achieve automation, data from those processes must be accessed and structured. The problem is that 80% of all business data is locked away in unstructured formats like paper documents, PDF files, emails, and images. These types of files cannot be read or understood by OCR automation systems, creating a roadblock to digital transformation. 

This is where OCR solutions come in. OCR stands for optical character recognition. OCR refers to a software that has the ability to scan printed and digital documents and record the data within them as text. An OCR scanner is one way to convert unstructured data into properly formatted data that can be used by and for automation systems. In order to be fully capable of extracting data from documents and building automation systems, you need to go one step further than OCR. 

You need a complete Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) solution. One great example of this is Rossum. Rossum goes beyond merely scanning and converting documents but provides an entire suite of features and functions that you can use to take control of your documents across your business processes. Rossum helps you manage documents and data, assemble reports, and more. Plus, Rossum’s powerful OCR engine is combined with AI technology to be able to decipher difficult-to-read text and content.

There are many different types of document management solutions that offer varying levels of functionality. However, at their core will almost always be some kind of OCR scanner that can take data from unstructured formats and convert it into usable data types.

Best OCR software

When evaluating an OCR solution for your business or operations, there are two overall categories you should be aware of – template-based and cognitive. A template-based OCR engine captures data from documents according to a pre-defined template. Basically, for every type of document, the software is trained to understand where to look for data and what kind of data it is looking for. This allows you to convert documents to more useful data. However, this kind of OCR also requires that you build a template for every format of the document you want to scan. This kind of OCR also still requires some manual work as the accuracy of each scan will need to be verified. The second kind of OCR scanning is cognitive OCR. Cognitive document capture software uses machine learning technology to “learn” through different document formats over time, automatically. This removes the need for custom templates for every document layout and allows you to completely digitize and automate business processes. 

Different businesses will be comfortable with different features, but the best OCR software utilizes cognitive OCR. It is far easier to use and can get up to speed much faster than other kinds of OCR technology. When looking for an OCR software online, ensure that it features a strong engine that utilizes AI. Otherwise, you may run into difficulties when attempting to scan certain business documents that are fuzzy or have handwritten elements. 

Rossum is one example of a platform with a top OCR solution as one of its primary components. Rossum provides intelligent document processing that allows you to organize and automatically process documents like invoices, purchase orders, packing lists, claims, or any other document format. 

As an added benefit, we make integration fast and simple by offering a system that comes trained out-of-the-box to understand and scan a huge variety of document formats. Another aspect to check for when it comes to scanning sensitive documents is the security of the platform. Rossum is fully compliant with ISO-27001 and HIPPA regulations and requirements, thereby ensuring that your data is always protected. 

Best OCR software for invoice processing

One of the tedious processes mentioned above is paper-based invoice processing. Many businesses are doing away with it entirely. Instead, they are relying on automation solutions to process invoices automatically. However, in order to achieve this goal, you need to find a data capture solution that is ideally suited for this job. What is the best OCR software for invoice processing

Once again, we return to the two primary categories—traditional OCR vs. AI-enabled solutions. The primary limitation of traditional OCR is that it is not able to handle a great deal of variability. Initially, you might think that invoices are fairly standardized. To our eyes, they may be, but if you look at a collection of recent invoices at your business, you’ll probably see that the same field of data can look very different across a variety of invoices. This doesn’t present a challenge for humans, but machines are a different matter. 

This variability results in traditional OCR systems making frequent mistakes in the scanning process which then requires your human employees to go and fix those errors. AI-enabled OCR is clearly a better choice for accounts payable invoice scanning software. 

This data capture system is able to “read” documents much more like a human being, identifying certain patterns so that it knows where to look for data. The end result is that invoice scanning using this solution results in digital documents that are clean and have far fewer errors. Automated invoice handling with machine learning and OCR truly is the future of accounts payable.

OCR vendors

There are several other vendors in this space, including companies like Nanonets, Microsoft, Intsig, and more. The Nanonets OCR solution is designed to be used for processes like menu digitalization or electricity meter readings. It is a cognitive OCR solution. Microsoft OCR software comes in a few different forms. Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI) is a solution for scanning documents and extracting the text from them. Microsoft’s solution even offers you the ability to edit certain documents and change the text within them. 

This is a useful feature. However, it is not designed to be used at scale and thus would not be very helpful in terms of automating business processes. Intsig OCR solutions are primarily focused on ease of use and allow you to use your mobile device as a document scanner. Each of these OCR vendors utilizes some form of cognitive OCR. Many of them, including Rossum, also offer a free trial

We recommend utilizing those free trial options when comparing systems. First of all, the ease of use of the interface is a crucial consideration. Secondly, you need to see how effective their OCR scanning actually is. Finally, not all of these OCR solution providers focus on providing comprehensive Intelligent Document Processing. If you’re interested in automating your processes and using OCR solutions to do so, it’s important to understand whether or not any given platform is going to help you reach your goals.

OCR document management

What is document management? Simply put, it is the handling, organizing, and processing of business documents for business processes. A great example of document management is invoice management. Although it may look slightly different across different industries and organizations, invoice management generally follows the same path—the business receives an invoice document, the invoice is coded and organized, the invoice is then approved for payment, and then the money is paid to the supplier. 

To successfully manage documents, you do not necessarily need OCR technology. For some processes, the documents may already be digitized and in a format that is easily used to build automation systems. For other processes, you may be content to continue to rely on manual labor to deal with the paper documents. However, OCR document management can make your life a lot easier and allow you to automate processes that are based on unstructured data formats, like paper invoices. 

OCR software examples

There are many ways in which you can use OCR software. Rossum’s service to customers is a source of excellent OCR software examples. Master Trust Bank of Japan, a finance company, described how Rossum made an immediate impact and significantly reduces its risk of exposure. Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate company, described how Rossum’s intelligent data capture feature was able to extract data from uniquely formatted government documents. 

Yet another client, a retail company PepsiCo, talked about how Rossum’s intelligent document processing solution was able to not only eliminate a massive backlog of documents that needed to be processed but also rescued team morale and prevented employees from quitting. 

In the end, they described how Rossum enabled them to always complete their document management work on time. Many companies have discovered just how helpful an OCR solution can be for building out their automated processes.

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