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

Who is faster - human or PDF OCR software?

Who can enter data faster - human or AI? How does PDF OCR software compare to human data entry? Watch it to find out!

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 that valuable data ends up being stored in unstructured data formats that computers cannot access. In fact, around 80% of all business data is stored in unstructured file types, 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 in such a way that both machines and humans can access and understand it. Unstructured data can be understood by humans but not by 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. That’s where optical character recognition (OCR) can come in handy. With OCR, computers can scan documents and “read” them in order to capture the data within. 

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 has the ability to increase your teams’ efficiency but also to increase the accessibility of data throughout your organization and the security of your processes. 

The best PDF OCR software will be able to read files from Adobe Acrobat Pro or any other kind of PDF software. There are many options available to you when it comes to 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. 

The Rossum platform uses AI-enabled OCR as one of its core features and can extract data from all kinds of PDF files. Our solution comes pre-trained to understand hundreds of thousands of document formats and has been designed specifically to maintain a low error rate. However, 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 of all, many of the simpler OCR methods will most likely be using 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 can end up having to do a lot of template creation. Plus, these systems will still frequently make errors that you and your team will have to manually correct. 

It takes years of research and effort in order 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. 

An excellent OCR solution doesn’t have to be complicated. Rossum’s interface has been praised by customers 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 is powered by machine learning and thus has the ability to “learn” new document formats. That means you don’t have to manually create new templates.

OCR software online

It is getting more and more 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. 

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 like Rossum. Rossum, like the best online OCR programs, has an easy-to-use interface and is highly functional. Rossum is also cloud-based and can be used to process and organize thousands of documents so that you can take control of your business data and put it to good use. 

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. 

When a human looks at handwriting in their language, no matter what the style is, 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 a technology called neural networks, in which the program is organized and built in a similar fashion 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 into our capabilities. Although you may be able to find free handwriting recognition software online, it will often be of inferior quality and will not be usable on the large scales 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 truly collect and synthesize the information within your business processes. In large organizations, there are thousands of documents moving through. The ability to see all that data and get reports on it is what you get from an Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) solution like Rossum. 

Artificial intelligence is essential in enterprise OCR software. There are far too many documents needing to be processed to bother with manually dealing with templates for each kind of variation. Furthermore, large organizations need an OCR solution that is fast and efficient. Rossum checks all these boxes and can do so much more for your organization. With Rossum, you can free yourself from the tedious processes of the past and beat the competition by being the first to embrace digital transformation. 

Using Rossum with other technologies can make your teams move more efficiently, which will result in you and your team having more time to focus on growth and innovation. 

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.