Data capture solutions: Traditional OCR vs cognitive

We are seeing document volumes increasing, a growing number of layouts with the addition of new suppliers, human operators becoming more expensive and unwilling to work on document transcription, and a rise in security concerns.

It is possible to leave behind the issues of manual and template-based data capture and achieve a solution with high accuracy and speed, that is cost-efficient.

traditional OCR vs cognitive

How to improve data extraction and integration

In this guide, we’re going to give you some practical insights and advice on how your company can build a winning ETL strategy.

OCR text recognition

There are countless new developments in technology happening all the time. Some are created to solve problems and some simply to offer a new product to consumers. In the former of these groups, is a technological tool called optical character recognition (OCR). Though it has a special name, it is really a simple concept. OCR text recognition is a tool, either mechanical or electronic, that reads images or documents and converts any text that appears in them into digital text that can be read by computer software. Electronic OCR software can copy text from image files and turn it into usable, editable digital text.

For business professionals who pay salaries to employees to manually copy text from images and documents, OCR tools present them with an opportunity to save money. How is this possible? It’s simple. When OCR tools are used by a company, employees no longer spend hours and hours extracting data in a repetitive job. Instead, these employees are free to work on tasks that require the human touch. In most areas of business, documents such as invoices, purchase orders, packing lists, claims, and much more, are used. Many of them will be images or documents that require data extraction for whatever is next in the transactional process.

The documents received by businesses will usually be in formats that make data extraction a slow process. This does not only include image files. One common file format that is used by companies is called PDF. Often, a document in this format will not have easily extracted text and will be uneditable. That is why OCR PDF tools exist. They make extracting the text from a PDF document a technological process instead of a manual one.

Businesses that deal in a lot of documents do not have to also deal with a lot of employee headaches. Employees that are dedicated to manually converting printed or image text into electronic text have to do a task that is not very rewarding nor is it necessary. With the advent of OCR software, companies can turn manual data entry into a thing of the past. 90% of the time spent on manual data entry can be saved by implementing OCR software in your business and it can make your employees happier and more productive. Rossum provides a unique OCR software that automates data extraction so that businesses can streamline their document processing.

Image to text converter

While documents received by businesses will sometimes be in digital document formats like PDFs, sometimes they will choose to send a scanned image of a physical copy of the document. Optical character recognition tools help with this form of data extraction as well. An OCR converter, either through template-based or automated processes, essentially reads the text in the image file and generates digital text based on it. This is why an OCR tool is sometimes referred to as an “image to text generator”.

Companies that work with other businesses in any way, especially with businesses that use more traditional methods of document processing, should consider implementing OCR tools in their departments. An image to text converter like OCR software can cut the amount of time it takes for data to be extracted from scanned documents. Additionally, the OCR image to text conversion process is always being updated with new advancements in technology. This means that OCR tools are only getting better and more efficient.

Instead of requiring employees to manually enter data from images, implementing OCR tools can reduce errors. Some companies choose to outsource this manual process of data extraction, but that leaves room for security issues and provides no incentive for the contractor to enter the data correctly. Instead, businesses that utilize OCR software can reduce repetitive labor, overall costs, and the risk of error. 

Software that can digitally read images and convert them into readable, editable text can greatly improve overall company productivity. Nobody wants to have the job of typing and retyping seemingly meaningless data from one document to another every day. It is time for businesses to start using OCR tools. Rossum built an OCR software that can automate 98% of data entry tasks, which is one of the reasons why the software is being used by PepsiCo, Siemens, and more.

OCR software

Today, even though optical character recognition was created as a mechanical process, OCR text recognition is largely run on computer software. OCR software often exists as a platform that businesses utilize to make the process of data capture faster. Some OCR tools exist entirely online, however. If you look for OCR online, the results will yield several online tools that can be used for individual text conversions. Specifically, these tools are often meant for OCR to Word format conversions. Online OCR tools are mostly used by consumers and individuals instead of companies. They do not make it easy to work with large numbers of documents or images and do not provide a secure platform for data extraction. The best online OCR tool can be used by small businesses, but will not provide the end-to-end service that large companies require.

This brings us to the question of “what makes for the best OCR software?” For companies that care about their data entry process, the best OCR software will not only make the process faster but more reliable as well. Businesses that work with dozens of other companies will run into dozens of different document processing procedures. Some companies will only use PDF files, others might use physical documents that they scan and send as an image, while still others will send Microsoft Word or Excel documents. With all of these document formats constantly coming into your business, the best OCR software would be able to extract data from these files easily. 

There are two different types of OCR software for businesses to choose from. One is called template-based, and the other is AI-powered. Both use technology to capture data from images or documents and convert it into usable digital text. Template-based OCR software, as might be expected, requires the use of a template for it to work correctly. This means that every document that your business processes needs to be in the same template format or there is a need to start creating new templates. This is very unlikely if your company works with several companies. Alternatively, AI-powered OCR software can read any document format and process it correctly regardless of the layout. OCR software that uses AI is also faster and easier to use.

Financially, the right OCR software can save your business thousands of dollars. Manual data entry costs an average of $2.03 per document to process, while template-based OCR software cuts that cost nearly in half. As for AI-powered OCR, the cost is even lower at just $0.45 for per-document cost. When you factor in the number of documents your business deals with, that can mean a dramatic reduction in total costs. Investing in OCR tools for your company does mean some upfront costs, but it depends on which type you decide to use. Template-based OCR tools can cost more than $100,000, while AI-powered OCR can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $0

OCR software examples

Finding OCR software examples, including demos from companies that produce OCR software, can be a helpful way to decide if a specific OCR software is suitable for your business. Traditional OCR software uses templates for all data extraction and only up to 50% of tasks can be automated. On the other hand, AI OCR software can automate 98% of tasks related to data entry. An example of each kind of OCR tool would be a great way to test out what works best for the documents that your company processes.

A simple and easy way to test out OCR software is to find an image to text app for your smartphone. An app like this would work by scanning an image you take with the camera on your smartphone and converting any text on that image into digital text. Using an OCR app can demonstrate how OCR text recognition works on a small scale and might even be useful for small businesses that have physical documents they need to process digitally. 

On a more specific level, OCR software can help with several aspects of the document processing procedure. OCR can be used for the classification and sorting of documents, as well as raw data extraction, and AI OCR tools can identify handwritten text and glyphs which makes the entire process easier. One example of an AI-powered OCR software that aids in all phases of document processing is Rossum. The Rossum software can read and understand documents in a human-like manner, and even “learns” by analyzing how humans process a document so that there is less human involvement down the road. In addition, Rossum can automate almost the entire process of data entry, including communication tasks. No matter what format or layout the document is in, Rossum can read it and enter the data into the correct fields like a virtual data entry clerk.

The world's easiest and most accurate OCR system

Capture data from structured & unstructured documents without configuring rules or templates. Because every company deserves an automated data extraction process.