How can PDF OCR software help your business?

OCR document processing or document data capture is the process of extracting information from documents and placing that information into any number of systems – from paper ledgers through digital spreadsheets to enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms. It is a simple concept; in practice, the methods and tools used to carry it out determine its simplicity or complexity, cost, and impact on business processes.

To give you a deeper understanding of PDF OCR software and document processing, we’ll examine currently available approaches and solutions. We’ll also take a quick look at the difference between structured and semi-structured data and its relevance to document processing.

PDF OCR software

A simple guide to PDF OCR software

Unfortunately, many organizations today still rely on paper-based processes for so many important aspects of their business. This means valuable data is stored in unstructured formats that computers cannot access. Around 80% of all business data is stored in unstructured files, like images or PDFs. 

Extracting and capturing the data within these files is one of the key steps before you can begin automating these processes. The problem is that computers only know how to recognize structured file types. In this case, data is carefully organized and presented so that both machines and humans can access and understand it. Humans can understand unstructured data but not machines.

This is why data capture has historically been done through manual data entry. In manual data entry, employees read through documents and enter them into structured formats. However, manual data entry has a whole host of problems. 

It is highly inefficient and can be very tedious for your employees. This can demotivate your team and lead some to consider leaving your organization. You don’t want to lose your best people because of paper-based processes. 

Despite these facts, 90% of organizations still use manual data capture techniques for Document Processing, even though automation can save businesses time and money. 

One way to automate document processing is by implementing OCR technology in the department. Many OCR tools are available, but finding the right OCR tool for your business will depend on your company’s unique needs.

The goal of PDF OCR software is to get data out of PDF files and into structured data types. This enables digitalization and automation, which not only can increase your teams’ efficiency but also increase the accessibility of data throughout your organization and the security of your processes. 

The best PDF OCR software can read files from Adobe Acrobat Pro or any other PDF software. Many options are available to you regarding this kind of software, including free PDF OCR software. However, you often will get what you pay for. Free programs will often not have the functionality needed to work in a live business environment. 

Rossum is much more than just an OCR solution. We go beyond document scanning to provide Intelligent Document Processing (IDP). IDP provides all the features and functionality you need to extract, organize, and manage your document-based data and can be used for processing documents at a massive scale. 

Simple OCR

Some organizations still do not feel comfortable implementing AI solutions. If this is your situation, you should be aware that there are simple OCR solutions available. It is fairly easy to find free PDF OCR applications, PDF OCR online platforms, and free OCR to Word conversion engines. 

Many of these solutions are open-source and may be tempting OCR systems for small businesses that have smaller budgets. However, you should also be aware of the downsides of choosing a free platform for OCR. First, many of the simpler OCR methods will likely use traditional OCR.

Traditional OCR is also known as template OCR. Template OCR is limited because it requires you to create a custom template for every variation of every document you want to process. 

Because there can be quite a bit of variability in business documents, you have to do a lot of template creation. Plus, these systems will frequently make errors that you and your team must manually correct. 

It takes years of research and effort to build an accurate, AI-enabled OCR data capture system. A free platform is most likely going to be rather error-prone. Even if you found an acceptable free solution, it may not be easy to integrate into your business and fully implement. Some free solutions are entirely impractical for large-scale use in a business setting. 

Going beyond OCR is Rossum’s modern, cloud-native document processing solution powered by AI. Customers have praised Rossum’s interface for its simplicity and ease of use. We have carefully designed our software to meet your needs quickly and efficiently. Integration is fast and simple. 

Plus, Rossum uses machine learning and thus can “learn” new document formats. That means you don’t have to create new templates manually but the technology will automatically detect the fields and accurately extract data from your documents. 

OCR software online

It is getting increasingly common to see cloud-based OCR tools coming onto the market. One of the great advantages of using an online OCR image-to-text conversion program is that your document management processes can be overseen remotely. In addition, this also allows you to store sensitive documents in a secure cloud environment rather than a vulnerable office desk. 

The power of an OCR solution is its ability to give you 100% visibility into your processes and facilitate total digital transformation at your organization. Some OCR software online focuses on specific functions or uses. 

For example, one OCR solution might be specifically designed to capture data from images of invoices, while another might be designed to digitize restaurant menus. One of the challenges with the free code that you sometimes see online is that many of them are too simple. If you don’t have the coding knowledge to make them work, you may not be able to implement them at all. 

An OCR PDF tool developed to convert data locked inside a scanned PDF into a usable digital text format can be a helpful tool for businesses that work exclusively with PDF files. PDF OCR online websites are easy to find and use. 

It’s important to select the OCR software that works best for you. However, if your business receives hundreds of documents per month, it may be wiser to go beyond OCR and look for an IDP solution.

For companies that need a more comprehensive program, the best OCR tool can capture data from all kinds of documents and is simple to implement, like Rossum.

Best OCR software for handwriting recognition

A handwriting-to-text converter is a complicated tool. There is no simple way to teach a computer to recognize all the different forms handwriting can take. Smudges, scribbles, or even slanting certain words can completely prevent a computer from being able to recognize the data or at least reduce the accuracy of the data capture. 

Knowing how to convert handwriting to text in Word starts with deciding between several options for performing this task. The first and slowest option is to manually read the handwriting and re-type the information as digital text in a Microsoft Word document. This is how manual document processing works and is an option to convert handwritten PDF to text files. 

However, this method is time-consuming and prone to human error. Another option is to use an OCR tool to convert handwriting to digital text. OCR tools for handwritten information can be either an application or software. 

When a human looks at handwriting in their language, no matter the style, we can almost always extract the meaning from the text. This is because we have learned over time to recognize patterns from the slightest details. 

The goal of a handwriting OCR online solution is to build a system capable of extracting data in the same way a human can. This is where deep learning comes in. Deep learning is the concept that a machine can learn to recognize subtle and abstract patterns and make calculations based on those patterns, just as humans do. 

Deep learning is powered by neural networks, in which the program is organized and built similarly to the human brain. Using deep learning, it is possible to convert handwriting to text in Google Docs format. 

The best OCR software for handwriting recognition uses this technology. Here at Rossum, we have spent years working on designing a system that is capable of “reading” and “skimming” through unstructured data formats and extracting the data within them. Now, we have added handwriting recognition to our capabilities. 

Although you may be able to find free handwriting recognition software online, it will often be of inferior quality. It will not be usable on a large scale required by businesses. Rossum gives you one of the easiest ways to convert handwriting to data. 

Enterprise OCR software

Large organizations often use OCR as a first step in building their digitalization and automation capabilities. Some processes, like claims processing or invoice management, take a long time to complete and rely entirely on paper and PDF files. By scanning these files into an automation system, entire business processes can be streamlined, and new opportunities created.

Enterprise OCR software goes beyond merely scanning documents and enables you to collect and synthesize the information within your business processes truly. In large organizations, there are thousands of documents moving throughout various departments and wings of a company. With so many moving parts, several systems may need to be accounted for. 

Ideally, OCR software would be compatible with all operating systems so that companies could use it without completely changing their computer operations. An OCR software should also be easy to implement, or the goal of saving time is diminished. 

The best OCR software has artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to process documents faster than any other method. Some OCR software options require templates for processing documents which can result in a highly inefficient tool. If your business’s documents are not in the correct template format, the OCR software will not work. 

Best OCR app

Another option for businesses looking for an OCR tool for Document Processing is to use or create an application. This can be a good choice for smaller companies that prefer smartphones for specific tasks. 

The best OCR app has Artificial Intelligence technology embedded to recognize all kinds of text from images, such as handwriting and unique fonts. 

Depending on the operating system of the computer and smartphone, the right OCR app will be designed to work smoothly with both. For example, the best OCR app for Mac users will probably coincide with the app for iPhone users since both utilize Apple’s iOS operating system. 

Likewise, the best OCR app for Android users will probably work best with computers operating on Windows or Linux systems rather than Apple products. 

The simplicity of an OCR app can be beneficial, but it also presents challenges. These apps require smartphones, and businesses may not want images of documents stored on phones. 

Additionally, OCR apps are not valid for large quantities of documents because each file must be photographed separately, and the information must be extracted individually. Formatting is another issue that these apps may need help handling. 

On the other hand, OCR software like Rossum can extract data from documents and enter the data into the correct fields automatically

Best OCR software for Windows 10

With Windows accounting for nearly 70% of the world’s operating system market, companies are more likely to use Windows than any other operating system. This is why businesses may be looking for an OCR for Windows software. 

An example of such software is SimpleOCR. This software is available for free, but the company admits that its software will not be helpful for documents with tables, columns, or non-standard fonts. With many business documents containing tables, such as invoices, and the inability of this software to read handwritten information, this SimpleOCR software may not be an effective tool for businesses.

The best OCR software for Windows 10 can be downloaded and installed by the company quickly so that it can be used as soon as possible. Additionally, the software should not require the use of a smartphone or other application because that can just add complexities and time.

Instead, OCR software for Windows should be able to read data from any file format and extract it so that the company does not need to hire employees to do manual data entry. An intelligent platform like Rossum can be used with a Windows operating system and provides a more reliable and accurate experience than simple OCR software.

Humans shouldn't be stuck doing data entry anymore

Everday throughout the world, an estimated equivalent of 100 human lifetimes are spent on manual data entry – and that's just for invoices! Stop this insanity and automate your document processing today.