Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology has changed how businesses gather, process, and analyze written information. Companies using OCR technology to convert scanned documents and images into text benefit from a streamlined, efficient, and simplified manner of data entry and analysis.
As per a recent report, the market size valuation of the international Optical Character Recognition market was USD 8.93 billion in 2021. Furthermore, it is expected to grow at an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4% from 2022 to 2030. This shows that OCR is here to stay.
But how do businesses across industries leverage this technology to their best? This article is a quick guide to everything you need to know to improve your business efficiency by rapidly adopting OCR technology. So, let's get started!
What is Optical Character Recognition Technology?
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology digitally recognizes and extracts text from scanned documents, images, and other written materials.
OCR softwares use advanced algorithms to analyze the pixels of an image and convert them into editable and searchable text. The algorithm uses two techniques for extracting text from images:
- Pattern Matching: In the pattern matching technique, the software first isolates the characters of images known as 'Glyphs.' It then compares these Glyphs with similar characters in its repository.
- Feature Extraction: After successful pattern matching, the OCR algorithm uses a feature extraction technique that takes glyphs of pattern matching and breaks them into several features, including lines, line insertion, and closed loops. The OCR algorithm then uses these features to locate its database's closest matching or most similar glyphs.
How Does Optical Character Recognition Technology Work?
The basic steps involved in the OCR process are pre-processing, segmentation, recognition, and post-processing. Understanding these steps can provide insight into the inner workings of OCR technology and help businesses make informed decisions when selecting an OCR solution to improve efficiency and streamline operations.
- Pre-processing: the image is prepared for OCR data extraction by cleaning up noise, distortion, alignment, contrast, and brightness issues.
- Segmentation: it breaks the image into smaller segments such as words, characters, and lines.
- Recognition: the OCR algorithms use pattern recognition and machine learning techniques to identify and attribute text accurately. The software analyzes the segments and matches them to defined characters in its repository.
- Post-processing: the software now clears any errors or inaccuracies that may have occurred in the recognition process. This can include correcting spelling mistakes, removing unnecessary characters, and formatting the text to match the original document.
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What Can OCR Do for Your Business to Improve Business Efficiency?
Multiple industries, including healthcare, banking, retail, and government, use OCR technology for document management, automated data entry, and text-based search. The technology is also rapidly improving with better recognition accuracy and faster processing time, making it easier for businesses to automate their document-based processes and improve efficiency. Some other ways OCR technology can help your business are mentioned below.
Automate Image-To-Text Extraction to Speed Up Work Production
An image to text converter enables the automated extraction of information from a scanned document or image file containing written or printed text. On extracting the text, it is transformed into a machine-readable format for use in further steps of data gathering, processing, and analysis.
Streamline AP Process to Improve Business Efficiency
By digitizing your invoices with the help of OCR technology, you may make your AP process more streamlined. Invoices can be scanned and then converted into editable PDFs. In addition, due to the OCR image-to-text converter's ability to comprehend the information, you no longer need to manually enter the data.
Also, when invoices are processed manually, mistakes are more likely to occur. This makes the entire process easier and more efficient for businesses and employees.
Improves Real-Time Accessibility
OCR technology makes businesses more productive and efficient by accessing information instantly and in real time. OCR technology allows companies to access any information in real-time whenever and wherever they want. Thus, this technology makes data searching easier for businesses with almost zero risk of errors.
What Business Processes and Workflows Can OCR Technology Improve?
In the past, most companies kept their information in hard copies or a blend of hard and digital records. As a result, it would take a lot of work for anyone to perform quick and precise data retrieval. But with technology and OCR, documents can now be scanned, indexed, sorted, and automatically stored without extra effort.
Traditionally, hospitals kept medical files on paper. In the past, if a doctor wished to compare current test findings to those from years ago, they would have to copy the material from the relevant archive and file it physically.
But now, with OCR, a computer can instantly find and compare relevant information. The document management enhancements directly affect efficiency across numerous corporate sectors like law, transportation, finance, and almost every business sector.
Expense management is another process where OCR technology is greatly used to improve the receipt data extraction process in expense reports. Here's how OCR technology can bring about efficiency in expense management:
The use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology can facilitate a wide variety of tasks, including the payment of bills.
As soon as an invoice is submitted, the OCR billing technology will read it and file it where it belongs. Files and papers, including email chains, can be structured appropriately, making it easier to find necessary information when researching a bill. You can also easily retrieve invoice information using Optical Character Recognition technology.
Submitting reimbursement receipts can be a time-consuming task for employees. In addition, they may quickly lose the receipt. Also, the time and effort involved with this kind of repayment are substantial.
But with expense management software with OCR technology, your employees only need to take a picture of the receipt. After the receipt is turned in, the OCR technology will instantly scan and extract the necessary data. This ensures timely reimbursements and hassle-free expense management.
With OCR, data can be imported from paper bills and converted to a digital version in seconds, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual data entry. This not only facilitates the automatic reconciliation of expenses but also saves time for individuals involved in the expense management process.
Also, invoice scanning centralizes data, making information available in real time, thereby facilitating faster document searches. This is a huge gain to the accounting team handling payments, as every invoice, regardless of format, can now be located with a few mouse clicks. Also, by using OCR software, teams may accomplish more in less time and with fewer mistakes.
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Why Should Your Business Consider Adopting OCR Technology?
- Reduce costs: Automated technology has replaced the need for human data entry specialists. If a customer wants to pay their utility bill online, they must upload a copy of their most recent statement showing payment in full. The system will do the rest. OCR technology has eliminated the need for hard-working professionals to get out of their seats and manually complete tasks.
- Accuracy and improved data utility: Inaccuracy is a common issue that arises throughout the data entry process. However, with the help of automated data entry solutions, data entry can now be quick and accurate. Businesses can achieve customer satisfaction only when clients have instant access to complete solutions to their inquiries. OCR facilitates this by making documents legible and expanding the utility of their information.
- Enhance work productivity: OCR technology helps businesses increase productivity by providing efficient and instant data retrieval. As a result, employees can focus more on tasks with more business impact. In addition, workers may get to the files they need without leaving their desks, eliminating the need for frequent excursions to the central records room.
- Saves time, effort, and resources: Structured papers that adhere to a standard template, such as government-issued documents like passports, licenses, etc., are easily scanned, and their data is extracted by OCR technology. To further aid businesses in their administrative duties, it can extract data from non-standard format documents, including pictures, PDFs, handwritten notes, etc. With OCR technology, businesses can save money, effort, time, and resources because of their capacity to pull data from a wide variety of documents automatically.
- Protects the environment: The cost and effort required to adopt more sustainable company practices might be substantial. In addition to offering a considerable profit, online OCR technology presents a simple way for organizations to become more environmentally friendly. Using excessive amounts of staples, tape, ink, and other costly, pointless office materials are unnecessary because printed papers can be destroyed and recycled.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a great technology that businesses can embrace to improve their work efficiency and productivity. While most successful businesses are now actively adopting OCR technology, we wish your company does so too.