Ultimate Guide to Document Processing: Redefining Intelligent Data Capture
Did you know that an average employee or office worker uses around 10,000 sheets or two full cases of paper every year? This means that a medium-sized company deals with half a million files every year, which is difficult to manage without an efficient document processing system.
With this amount of documents, searching for data and retrieving files will take up a significant amount of your employees’ time. If your business processes still depend on manual data entry and retrieval, expect inaccuracies, low productivity, inefficiencies, human errors, and other resource-related issues.
Data capturing and data extraction from incoming files are critical processes required for many business operations. Unfortunately, many companies still use outdated manual data processing workflows. This leads to bottlenecks, lost productivity, and delayed turnaround times. Additionally, outdated manual data processing also impacts the customer experience and your bottom line.
But what if there is a better form of document processing to manage all incoming information of varying medium or file type?
Thanks to Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), unstructured and semi-structured data is transformed into usable information. It allows companies to utilize their data in a smart and strategic way. Instead of manually inputting everything, you can use the best OCR services to manage your data.
Intelligent document processing takes data capture and management to the next level. Companies are able to capture, extract, and process information from a wide range of document formats. Technology has made it possible for AI-powered algorithms to scan, read, and understand digital and physical documents as humans do.
What is Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)?
Intelligent Data Processing, also known as intelligent data capture, is the process of intelligently capturing specific information and streamlining document processing tasks. No matter what kind of file is to be processed, IDP is to designed to perform document scanning jobs. IDP works with both paper and electronic documents.
Data capture makes it easy for any organization to manage information. Since the documents are converted to digital format, organizing the information is faster and more efficient. Data capture solutions pave the way to the organization’s success through intelligent document processing. With the introduction of IDP, it can be a game-changer for a lot of businesses and companies.
Intelligent Document Processing: How does it work?
There are two important points to consider when using IDP. First, it is critical to understand the technology required to extract the necessary data from the document. It also depends a lot on what kind of information is being extracted. Structured data requires less advanced technology. On the other hand, unstructured and partially-structured data require more sophisticated software.
Second, consider the data format. An organization may receive data in various types, such as paper documents, faxes, emails, and attachments, and MS Office files like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, and more. And this data come from different locations and different devices.
Ideally, an Intelligent Data Processing system should recognize, classify and extract important information and then direct it to the required document workflows for review. There are three key techniques that are applied to an IDP system: Document Classification, Data Extraction, and Data Release.
The first step is to classify what type of document is being processed. Then you need to determine the beginning and the ending of the document. The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology is used for both electronic and paper documents.
After the document classification, the next and most important step is to extract valuable data from the document. Once the information is gathered, it is entered into the required database or stored accordingly for future use.
The last step of intelligent data processing is to automatically export the data and images to business processes or workflows. Then, this information is made available for immediate consumption. Then, the organization can take quick actions and offer efficient service to its members or customers.
IDP vs. OCR
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is different from IDP because it is involved with image pre-processing, identifying characters, and putting together words, blocks, and sentences. It revolves around digitizing paper documents, scans, or images from a physical document. That means OCR plays an important role in the document processing workflow, especially when dealing with a large number of images and documents.
OCR tools have come a long way since they were introduced in the early 1990s. The power of OCR software to convert various types of documents, such as images, PDFs, or files, into editable and easy-to-store format has made tasks effortless.
On the other hand, Intelligent Data Capture technology is broader. It involves a more general field of data extraction and analytics. Aside from extracting, it also provides meaning to the text collected from many forms of digital assets, including documents, emails, text files, and scanned images.
It’s a document processing solution that is above and beyond traditional OCR software. In IDP, words and sentences have relevant meaning. It understands the data and context, creates insights, then generates a narrative.
Advantages of OCR and IDP
OCR and IDP have the ability to automate practically any text-based file that and modify the data easily. Here are some of the benefits of using OCR and IDP for document management.
One of the biggest advantages of intelligent document processing is it minimizes manual intervention. It only takes a few clicks to capture, convert, organize, store, and analyze data from a document. The automation increases the overall efficiency of the daily workflow.
Companies adopting OCR and IDP solutions in automating their workflow experience reduced processing time and lowered labor costs. This is particularly true for companies that choose to outsource their document processing needs. Also, automated document processing saves operational costs by completing a portion of work in a shorter period of time.
The speed with which data is processed is also an advantage of intelligent document processing. Manually processing data is time-consuming and labor-intensive. This makes the process prone to errors and leaves your staff disengaged. Relying on an IDP or OCR solution not only ensures error-free results and completes the work in a fraction of the time.
IDP solutions are process agnostic and have several applications in different use cases. It requires no installation and serves as a platform where various types of document formats, such as images, faxes, excel sheets, can be scanned and processed. All these make IDP and OCR highly scalable and effective for any organization.
Since OCR and IDP substantially automate laborious tasks like data entry, document sorting, and information validation, it simplifies compliance. These solutions leave a digital trail that is useful for auditing and ensuring adherence to complex regulations. OCR and IDP also ensure data privacy to prevent misuse or manipulation of data.
IDP's Role in Digital Transformation and Data Management
Most organizations are stuck using unstructured data, which is difficult to organize. Your staff is wasting several work hours just to get documents sorted out.
Companies looking to enjoy the productivity boost offered by digital transformation need the best OCR services to be implemented across their organization. It streamlines the entire document processing system and improves data management.
However, using OCR is not enough for companies to fully maximize the power of data processing. It might be useful at capturing text, but that’s all there is to it. If you’re looking for an analysis of the document, you need a more sophisticated solution.
With OCR applications, the digital transformation is incomplete as it is limited to capturing text from the original document. You still need to invest hours of employee time in analyzing the data.
Because of this, companies cannot achieve full digital transformation since they are stuck with digitization. To achieve it, you need a more intelligent way of document processing that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The Benefits of Document Processing
80% of business data is unstructured, yet this information is crucial for many business processes. Converting these files into a digital format and properly categorizing the extracted information offers many benefits. It increases a company's competitiveness, enhances customer experience, and provides more significant insights.
Document processing benefits include:
- Cost optimization. Retrieving information from unstructured documents is costly. Organizing your data makes information retrieval a lot faster and easier, saving you lots of working hours.
- Accessibility. Intelligent document processing with categorization allows information to be accessible to companies so that they can operate with greater accuracy.
- Error prevention. Document processing guarantees consistency and accuracy, so the data you extract is more useful.
- Increased productivity. Automated document processing using OCR and IDP is faster than manual analysis. It is a fact that speed plays a crucial role in any data migration effort. For instance, insurance claims can be processed a lot quicker with an efficient document processing system.
- Optimized data integration. Document processing works well with various platforms, such as CRMs and databases.
While the advantages of processing and integrating data from unstructured documents are clear, many businesses still neglect their records' digitization. Why?
Most OCR systems are complicated. They simply capture the text and do nothing to organize and contextualize the data. If your document processing software simply digitizes the document, you still need an employee's help to analyze the information and organize the extracted data manually.
The Human Blended Approach to Document Processing
OCR was originally designed for reading black text against a white background with the help of a flatbed scanner. So, if you want to extract key data fields from IDs with small fonts and colored backgrounds, you need smarter software. This is where the human blended approach is extremely helpful.
The human blended approach takes data capture to a whole new level. Instead of simply converting documents into accessible and readable formats, this approach makes up for traditional OCR's inadequacies.
Challenges with traditional OCR
While a typical OCR system is considered a go-to platform for capturing data, it can be frustrating when the data extracted does not make sense. Running a document through OCR software does not mean that the output will be perfect.
Here are some of the challenges of traditional OCR systems:
- Slow process. Traditional OCR mainly involves converting documents to text. But most OCR software is not 100% accurate, which means the extracted information needs to be double-checked. It slows down the entire process and beats the purpose of using a digital solution.
- Lack of scalability. OCR systems require large amounts of both technical and human resources. It takes up huge volumes of memory and processing speed, slowing down the system. This makes it more difficult to process large volumes of documents. Plus, OCR is not very accurate, which results in errors that require manual review.
- Traditional OCR tools don’t have the capability to process documents in different formats. For example, an OCR reads printed text only and will fail to read handwritten documents. It is not flexible enough to notice the small nuances in the document.
- Some OCR platforms are not able to read text with different fonts and font sizes. They sometimes fail to understand different font sizes in the same line. There are also OCR solutions that fail to read tables, both bordered and borderless. It leads to a higher risk of unexpected errors and more work for your staff.
- Conventional OCR systems fail to remove noises such as black spaces or unnecessary values that lead to uncertainties and inaccuracies in output.
With all these flaws, there is a high chance of compromising the accuracy and quality of output in traditional OCR systems. As a consequence, a conventional OCR platform is unpredictable and might complicate your business processes more.
How The Human Blended Approach Works
The human blended approach combines cognitive data capture with a human-in-the-loop process, increasing the accuracy of the output. It highlights the difference between text simply pulled out of a document and information gathered and organized from a file.
The technique enables efficient and reliable data capture from unstructured documents and transforms them into structured information that can be used to make informed decisions.
Instead of simply relying on a layout based approach, the human blended approach extracts data from unstructured files based on their domain and contextual semantic information. It does not rely on the type, content, layout, and language of a document alone. The technique uses machine learning to understand and capture data from semantic patterns gleaned from the document. Then, those patterns are analyzed across different domains and layouts.
Advantages of a Blended Approach Over Traditional OCR
Recently, OCR has evolved in a way that would astonish the world. Instead of the traditional OCR platform, it is now built using artificial intelligence-based machine learning technologies. The good news is these new technologies are not limited to the rules-based, character-matching systems of existing OCR software.
Using machine learning, algorithms are trained to learn to think for themselves. Instead of being limited to a fixed number of character sets, these evolved OCR programs accumulate knowledge and learn to recognize different types of characters.
The challenge brought by character recognition has long blinded companies to the reality that simple digitization is not the end goal for using OCR. It is not meant to just convert analog text into digital formats. What companies need is to turn analog text into digital insights.
This is why a lot of businesses are looking beyond machine learning and are now turning to the human blended approach. In this process, algorithms no longer have to rely on historical patterns to determine accuracy.
With human blended OCR, the company that scans its documents gets more than just digital versions of files. They get instant access to the meaning of the text in those documents- that data can unlock millions or billions of dollars worth of insights while saving time and minimizing expenses.
OCR is finally moving away from the simple seeing and matching system. Driven by the human blended approach, it’s entering a new phase where it recognizes scanned text, then makes meaning out of them.
Improved Customer Experience
The recent advances in OCR also have a huge impact on improving customer experience. They enable online businesses to easily acquire customer data while maintaining accuracy standards. Below are a few points on how OCR optimizes the customer experience.
Quicker Data Acquisition
Unstructured content is a big problem when it comes to retrieving customer data. The lack of a system saving customer data in digital form and organizing multiple files in a database makes data retrieval slow. OCR is one of the best solutions to poorly managed files and formats.
OCR helps you save time on manual structuring your content while increasing productivity by making data acquisition faster, more reliable, and more accurate. Modern OCRs even offer better data acquisition prospects by scanning through a well-organized information database.
When it comes to customer experience, accurate data is as important as readability. The words extracted may be readable, but they may not have meaningful content, making the data meaningless.
Improved Services and Offers
With OCR, digital businesses are able to provide their customers with custom services that are best aligned with their interests. Using OCR-based solutions allows businesses to come up with customer-oriented content by structuring the user data into organized folders and specific formats. For instance, restaurants are able to provide menu suggestions to returning customers based on their previous orders.
Since OCR improves data extraction, it is easier to get personally identifiable information from customer documents. It aids in the completion of the early stages of the customer onboarding process and provides an effortless experience for the customers.
OCR is a popular tool for maintaining digital records for patients in the healthcare industry. It is currently used by many medical institutes to easily retrieve patient data from the hospital database. It also enables a better diagnosis of the patient’s underlying medical conditions. Information, such as medical history, past hospital or clinic visits, and previous treatments, are quickly accessed by authorized personnel or medical practitioners.
Online Identity Verification
OCR is useful for online identity verification vendors that cover a wide range of industries, such as e-gaming, e-commerce, retail, and others. These online businesses are mandated by law to verify their customers’ identities during onboarding. They follow a set of international procedures and policies, such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML), to avoid identity theft fraud.
The technology allows fast and accurate data extraction from the documents used for validating customer identity. It provides a secure means to enroll legitimate users in a business and makes the overall customer experience seamless.
Simplified Utility Meter Reporting
With OCR solutions, utility companies no longer have to visit the consumer’s house to take the reading and manually record it. It is particularly useful during a pandemic where face-to-face communication is limited. With modern OCR solutions, consumers simply have to scan the meter readings using their smartphones and send the OCR generated results over to the utility department.
How OCR Improves Business Processes
The use of OCR by companies increases operational efficiency, ensuring that every customer is satisfied with the services rendered. This technology enables them to improve business processes by making unstructured content accessible and searchable.
Reading text from images enables you to extract the value from that piece of document that can be used to make better decisions. Here are some of the ways OCR can improve your business processes:
1. Easy access
Companies that use OCR improve the accessibility of consumer data being entered into their systems. Because the files are text-searchable with OCR processing, businesses and data managers can easily retrieve specific information. Sifting through a database is a lot easier when you can narrow down your search.
2. Time saver
As opposed to traditional systems, OCR processing enhances user experience by eliminating manual data from enterprises and organizations. Opening a digital file is so much faster than trying to find one paper document in your pile of years of documents. If you’re in recruitment, OCR makes it easier to find a specific applicant’s resume from hundreds of applications.
3. Improved customer service
Customer support agents can readily access information related to the customer, even as they receive incoming calls. It allows the agent to personalize the conversation based on the information about the customer. For instance, if a customer is calling to ask for technical support about the product they bought, the agent can provide the right help by knowing the model, serial number, or type of product in question. If this information is saved in digital form, CSR can access it quickly, boosting the overall customer experience.
4. Data usability
OCR lets you easily convert any files to any editable digital format, such as MS Word or Excel. Then, the information extracted by the OCR software is ready for any purpose. For example, information from forms and surveys can be used immediately for analysis.
OCR is cost-effective, which saves you a considerable amount of money. Instead of hiring data entry employees to handle your data management, all you need to do is invest in an OCR software or outsource it to a reliable service provider.
6. Improved productivity
A lot of companies use OCR to automate workflows, thus improving overall productivity. It accelerates document processing since everything is in digital format. In invoice management, for instance, the finance team can easily organize and retrieve financial information because all the data is in one place. It also streamlines data entry and categorization for complex business processes, such as insurance claims.
OCR allows organizations to convert unstructured content into searchable data, saving you several hours of data retrieval. For example, in accounting, it will be a lot easier to find information regarding invoices or payroll compared to doing it on paper. If you’re looking for a specific invoice number, all you need to do is press CTRL + F or Command + F to find exactly what you are looking for. This saves you the hassle of digging through your stack of invoices and checking them one by one.
Businesses need accurate data in order to make strategic decisions. For instance, financial documents need to be reviewed thoroughly before deciding to expand or hire new employees. If there is any incorrect data in the documents being reviewed, it could have a huge impact on the company.
9. Improved offers and better services
Automated value extraction from unstructured content ensures that customers interact with companies in a way that makes sense. In the insurance industry, for instance, claims can be submitted in different formats. With the help of OCR, all this information can be compiled into a document that makes sense. Making this content searchable allows businesses to have access to the data they need.
10. Cloud storage
Nowadays, companies mobilize all their data and store it in a cloud instead of using conventional data storage solutions. The advantage of storing documents in a cloud is that it makes it possible to access information from any part of the world. Employees can collaborate even if they are in different locations.
What Industries Benefit the Most From OCR?
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is one of the latest technologies that has found multiple applications throughout the entire industrial spectrum. It saves businesses a lot of resources, including time and labor.
With OCR, a large volume of paper-based documents across different languages and formats are digitized into machine-readable text. The software also allows previously inaccessible data available to anyone at a click.
Along with other industries like insurance and securities, the finance industry is a huge fan of OCR. The most common use of OCR is to handle checks. A handwritten check is usually scanned and converted into digital text. Next, the signature is verified, and the check is cleared in real-time. All these steps have human involvement.
Although near 100% accuracy has been achieved for printed checks, it is still long before handwritten checks get the same accuracy. But with AI-assisted deep learning applied to handwriting OCR, it won't be long before this becomes a reality. A reduced turnaround time for check clearance benefits all — from payer to bank to payee.
Very few industries generate as much paperwork as the legal industry. From affidavits, judgments, filings, statements, wills, and other legal documents, the legal industry is all about printed papers. With the help of OCR, these files are digitized, stored, indexed, databased, and made searchable. For an industry heavily dependent on judicial precedent, quick access to legal documents from millions of past cases is surely a huge benefit.
Healthcare is another industry that maximizes the usage of OCR. Having your patients’ entire medical history on a centralized digital platform means that details like past illnesses, previous treatments, diagnostic tests, hospital records, insurance payments, and other medical information is in one place. Instead of keeping files of reports, X-rays, and other papers, managing your entire database is a lot more convenient.
OCR software is making your travels easier, and you don’t even notice it. Most airports, ports, and bus terminals use OCR for application, security, and data storage purposes. From scanning your passport to storing your personal information while booking a flight, all those features are powered by OCR technology.
Using OCR software for processing forms is also a reliable way of reducing human error. OCR software can offer much more accuracy than human reading and typing. There are hundreds of applications that use OCR in the travel and tourism industry.
Another industry that relies on paper documents is the government. People need to fill out a form for every transaction, such as applying for a license or getting a certificate. OCR software makes it a lot easier for government offices to collect information from these forms.
OCR has also been changing the way in which millions of citizens access government documents. Processes, such as voting, registration, and search information, have also evolved due to OCR.
OCR software technology helps the food industry in so many ways way. By using OCR image processing algorithms and computer processing algorithms, restaurants can digitize their menus in minutes. This is quite helpful for restaurants that rely heavily on delivery services during this pandemic.
Aside from this, OCR is also used in:
- Ingredient or raw material receiving
- Real-time production tracking
- Date code accuracy and legibility
- Expiration date verification
- Label verification
- Label placement, quality, and brand management
- Automated warehouse, picking, and shipping data management
- Expedited product returns and customer credits
OCR plays a huge role in organizing and digitizing your documents. It is the easiest way to format your data in a retrievable and user-friendly file format, with minimal to zero errors. But it is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially if you are doing it manually.
Instead of spending hours on data management, most businesses prefer delegating the task to a professional document processing services provider. It allows them to save on time and expenses, giving them the chance to focus on core business operations.
Here are some of the common OCR services usually outsourced to third-party providers:
- OCR Clean-up Services – This involves correcting or replacing misread characters by the OCR software. This is done by comparing the actual physical document with the scanned files.
- Document Digitizing – Convert physical documents into a digital format, so they are easy to preserve, replicate, share, and retrieve.
- Document Scanning Services – Converting large and complex paper documents into digital images.
- OCR Conversion Services – Converting the information in your paper files into an electronic format.
Benefits of Outsourcing OCR Services
- Outsourcing document scanning services helps in cutting downtime and effort in digitizing and organizing documents so the company can focus all attention on its core areas.
- Documents can be transformed into various formats, such as PDF, HTML document, MS Word, Excel, and others.
- Outsourcing document processing allows companies to save on overhead costs. You don’t need to hire a new employee and pay benefits along with a full-time salary. You can also easily scale your OCR services according to your needs.
- OCR allows easier collaboration since the digitized files are easier to share with other employees or members of the team.
- Outsourcing OCR services is a progressive step towards digital transformation and will become indispensable for businesses or industries to grow.
- Greater accuracy.
Outsourcing OCR document processing services in the business sector is of utmost importance because it increases the efficiency of the company that will eventually lead to business growth. It is a powerful tool and can be utilized by all sorts of companies and firms irrespective of the sphere of work.
Factors to Consider When Outsourcing Document Processing
When outsourcing your document processing, you can’t simply pick a random service provider. There are certain factors you need to look at to avoid regrets in the future. Here are the things you need to consider when planning to find the best OCR services:
Tools and Technologies
With digitization getting more popular across industries and locations, using advanced technologies and tools is imperative to achieve process efficiency. Though they may cost a fortune, your outsourcing partners can afford such tools since it is their capital investment. So before you pick a service provider, get to know their process and the software they use, so you know how professional their service is.
Here are some of the popular document management systems that outsourcing providers use:
- Feng Office
- Seed DMS
- MasterControl Documents
Scalability is a significant factor to consider because it directly affects the productivity of your resources. Your outsourcing partner should be able to handle peak business seasons while offering equal quality deliverables during the lean seasons. It is possible only when the outsourcing provider has enough resources and assets. Your outsourcing provider should be able to offer custom services or packages that cater to your specific needs.
Though many third-party outsourcing service providers offer specialized services, it would be best if they offer end-to-end data solutions. Here are some of the common service offered by document processing providers:
- Document Scanning
- Data Entry
- Data Validation
- File Indexing
- Data Capture
- Data Verification
- Invoice Processing
- Data Mining Services
- Cheque Processing
- Survey Processing
When you need data conversion, consider an outsourcing partner that provides data in multiple formats. Otherwise, you will need to deal with multiple outsourcing partners to get the same document in different formats. This will result in data inconsistency and pose a major risk to your data privacy.
Most outsourcing providers are able to process documents from cloud storage, email attachments, FTP, and media storage (DVD, flash drives, or external drives). From there, they perform indexing/metadata collection, document classification, full-text OCR, archival formatting, image enhancement, and reformatting to TIFF, JPG, PDF, PNG, and other common output standards.
A reputable and experienced outsourcing partner will always produce quality deliverables. Check the existing quality standards to make sure that you are offered the best quality information.
Data privacy has become crucial in order to survive in a competitive market. Since businesses deal with a huge amount of information, you have to ensure that the provider you choose implements strict online security measures to protect your data.
It is important to get the deliverables on time so you can evaluate their quality. Hence, you have to check the turnaround time guaranteed by the outsourcing partner. Once the time is agreed upon, they have to make sure that they deliver quality data within the stipulated schedule.
Outsourcing is considered the most cost-effective way to complete business processes, but you also need to make sure that you’re getting the quality service that you need. Ideally, you need to look for an outsourcing service provider that would give you the best quality service for the best price. But this doesn’t mean you have to go with the cheapest.
DocDigitizer is a state-of-the-art cognitive OCR technology powered by Machine Learning that facilitates efficient and reliable data capture from unstructured documents. After data capture, the documents are transformed into accessible and structured knowledge that businesses can use.
This data capture platform provides a direct cost structure optimization and allows organizations to allocate people to value-added tasks. It reduces information lead times and increases the quality of the data in areas with significant financial impacts. With DocDigitizer, businesses can grow without increasing their operational overhead in areas outside their core operations.
What Makes DocDigitizer Different From Other OCR?
Most OCRs work by simply extracting the data from the image. Unlike most data extraction technologies or OCR engines, DocDigitizer’s data capture engine powered by Machine Learning can understand and capture information from semantic patterns available in the document. Then, it generalizes those patterns across different domains and layouts.
DocDigitizer mimics what a human mind does by taking into consideration semantic and structural information and using it to provide data capture with unrivaled precision.
- Partner Ready – DocDigitizer unlocks amazing opportunities for partners such as integrators, RPAs, ERPs, KYC/AML, and any Digital Transformation scenario.
- Zero Setup – No initial setup, infrastructure, license fees, or troublesome implementation.
- Pay-Per-Document – A flexible cost per document payment structure. No minimum payments required.
- Scale Fast – Start small. Scale up or down instantly.
- 100% Accuracy – Much more than OCR and Data Capture. DocDigitizer curates the extracted data and validates it for you.
Learn more about the difference between Doc Digitizer and other traditional OCR software by reading about how our system works.
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