Businesses are involved in a whole lot of documentation processes both physical and electronic. Most advanced businesses today are taking advantage of advanced technology to make them better than their competitors in the market. One method that has become very popular in business is optical character recognition (OCR). Since its introduction in the early 1990s, it has steadily gained popularity because of its great importance in businesses.
In order to use OCR, you must have an OCR software installed. This is basically a mechanical or electronic means of converting typed, photographed, faxed, handwritten, scanned, printed and typed text files into editable, searchable and machine-encoded documents that are in almost every format. The early method of having a machine that could read characters was William Goldberg’s telegraph in 1912.
The current OCR recognition method has greatly increased in its intelligence where it has the capacity of re-creating all your office documents’ fonts, color, size, and even layout. Many organizations and businesses currently use PDF export that pulls data from various photocopies of stored forms. With this, they can put their data online and start their paperless documentation process.
It is amazing that most modern optical character recognition has the capability of differentiating between the background and the contents of the document. Some businesses even use 3-D image formatting in case they want to handle those low-resolution images that were taken using a smartphone camera.
OCR is playing a major role in many businesses when it comes to capturing data from documents. It eventually enables the organization to achieve its goals like printing on demand and doing online publishing. Join the new movement today and ensure that your business is competing with its rivals effectively!
How most businesses are using OCR
1. For doing data entry
As an established business, you can use OCR to eliminate most of the manual data entry process which is one of the drawn out processes your business has to do. Considering the amount of data in any busy company, you need to hire data entry experts whom you have to pay hourly if they are not interns. Besides this, the possibility of having inappropriately entered data is very high considering that a human cannot be as accurate as a machine. If you can adopt OCR that will be one way of preventing your profit from being drained through data entry processes.
2. For making documents more available through form automation
A study conducted in the United States clearly showed that an average employee spends 30-40% of their time looking for information in files in their four-drawer file cabinet which is known to be holding 15,000-20,000 pages. This is a whole lot of time-consuming work that can be avoided if OCR is introduced in an organization or business.
Most businesses have introduced OCR to expedite their documents into their daily workflow through form automation. The digital or electronic forms can then be exported to the Document Management System (DMS) where they are easily stored and tracked. This makes it possible to make the information available globally in various formats like PDF. Now it is easy to get a document in any format electronically. This technology aims at making transactions paperless in the future.
3. For improving accuracy
Humans will always be inclined to make errors. Even if you hire data entry experts, in one way or another, they will at some point make mistakes. Manual entry is vulnerable to error. Although it can be minimal and may go unnoticed for some time, it can cause a huge loss to your business. Can you imagine what mistakenly adding or missing a zero on your monthly budget can do to your budget? That’s what OCR can avoid by increasing the level of accuracy in data entry.
4. For enhancing security
There are very sensitive documents that every business has such as their legal processes, their mode of operation, how they compete with their competitors and such. If these documents happen to leak out, they can ruin the business operation. If such documents are in PDF format and other accessible formats, they can be kept in a secure location in such a way that no one can access them except the administration. OCR can help in storing the document in such formats.
5. For reducing hidden costs
There are unseen costs that may not be noticed right now but that eventually have the ability to collapse your business. Some of these costs are as a result of manual data entry in various departments. Since OCR technology is accurate, it can be used to reduce such unseen errors which usually result in hidden costs.
6. For cloud storage
Most businesses are using OCR to easily store their data in the cloud. This usually makes the data available to the employees of the organization who can download their information easily using their smartphones or computers. Most businesses now can easily remotely carry out some responsibilities over the internet, edit the documents, find a specific document, and synchronize folders.
7. To automate mailrooms
This is mostly being used by most large businesses. Whenever the business receives an incoming document, the OCR system automatically analyzes it, extracts the important information and immediately sends it to the business teams. The important data that is extracted is usually stored in the company’s system which makes it easier for various people to access the important information they need. This information can be used directly by the business teams.
8. In automating invoices
OCR technology is now being used by businesses to automate their employees’ invoices. They simply do the scanning of the paper invoices and put the exact format in the system electronically. The electronic information is also validated to ensure that they get a similar format that is very accurate. From there it can be easily integrated into the accounting system which makes finance department’s life simpler and hassle free.
9. For information retrieval
It is very easy for businesses now to retrieve their information because they convert their paper documents into searchable PDF files. These searchable files resemble PDF files, but they are more advanced in that they include an invisible overlay that contains searchable text. With your documents in such a format, you can easily make use of your digital file system to search the names and phrases that will enable you to locate the information easily. The electronic information, therefore, becomes the DNA of the organization. That means the information is integrated into the organization.
Optical character recognition (OCR) technology and software processes the text on paper documents in various ways. Some of them include pattern recognition, which is entirely recognizing characters, feature detection which involves recognition of individual elements in every character, intelligent character recognition which is basically for handwriting, optical bar code recognition which is for scanning bar codes, and optical mark recognition among others.
Your business certainly will need OCR technology if it is to compete globally or even just with local competitors. In a generation where you may have visually impaired employees in your business, OCR is one technology that will help you get everyone involved and incorporated into your business.
You will eventually save time, reduce costs, improve business processes, and of course better manage the flow of work. It is time to adopt OCR technology and its related software into your business.
Photograph by FirmBee