Manual data entry and receiving invoices in paper format stand as the most challenging business processes for employees. Companies that still utilize these two processes are susceptible to poor data management, high processing costs, and inefficient labor use.
Fortunately, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can be used to solve these time-consuming business challenges. It enables you to reproduce hard copies digitally with up to 99% accuracy for more effortless data transfer and processing.
In this article, we’ll show you what Optical Character Recognition is and how it can help you be more efficient in your business.
What is Optical Character Recognition?
Optical Character Recognition is a technology that recognizes text within a digital image and converts this image into a machine-readable format. This technique typically involves using an algorithm to recognize characters within that image. OCR has been used in the past to convert paper documents into digital formats and enter data, but it has also been adapted for use in cognitive computing, text-to-speech extraction, data mining, as well as on websites and other digital media. OCR can be used to convert scanned documents, faxes, or other printed material into editable text files for processing by word processors and other applications.
So, how does OCR work? The Optical Character Recognition system works by running an image through an OCR program, which can be a specialized printer scanner or your phone equipped with an optical scanner or camera. Firstly, the original image is scanned and converted into a bitmap. Secondly, the AI-powered software recognizes color, text characters, handwriting styles, and languages by using pattern-matching techniques. Afterward, it extracts the text from the image and finally converts it into editable text on a computer screen or into a digital document file.
How is Optical Character Recognition Used in Businesses?
Optical character recognition is used in a handful of things, and business is one of them. Below are some of the ways that you can use OCR in handling your tasks.
1. Inputting Business Documents
Optical Character Recognition is helpful for businesses that are opting to shift from manual to digital data entry. Mountains of physical records in storage will take a lot of time to input digitally. Using a scanner with OCR helps you sort out your records while scanning since you can pre-program your scanner to file documents containing specific words into different folders.
You can also use OCR for recording manually filled forms digitally. Since OCR makes converting and editing PDF possible, you can scan copies of your physical forms and edit them on your computer for encoding new transactions.
2. Transferring Calling Card Information
Using Optical Character Recognition also helps quickly enter contact information from calling cards. Say you are in a business convention, and all your newly-found associates and prospective investors or customers hand you their business cards. Keeping it in your drawer won’t guarantee its longevity, and it will take quite a while to manually enter all that information into your database. With OCR, you can simply scan the business cards you’ve gathered and input keywords (such as Name, Company, Position, Address, and Contact Information) to automatically register and synchronize the information with your automated information database.
3. Automatic Computation with AI
Combing Artificial Intelligence with OCR can provide you with even more accuracy.
Using simple scanning software with no OCR and AI capabilities for scanning receipts can lead to miscalculations. For example, your scanner mistakenly captured $100 instead of $1000. Normally, it would take human review to correct this error by calculating the entries from the scanned document manually. With AI-powered OCR, you don’t have to worry about misreadings since AI automatically calculates scanned computation breakdowns to check if it has received the correct information.
4. Inventory Tracking
You can also use OCR to utilize your merchandise’s serial numbers more efficiently.
Extracting the serial numbers on your merchandise from a warehouse or retail store gives you a better idea of your stock count. You can do this by equipping bar scanners with compatible OCR software that has been configured to your database.
Why Should You Use Optical Character Recognition?
Optical Character Recognition can improve your business in many ways, and below are just some of them:
It’s Faster and Requires Minimal Effort
You save more time using OCR. According to Ratatype, an average person can type more or less 41 words per minute when copying from a source. This means that encoding a 1000-word document will take almost half an hour of typing which could have been used in other business matters. Scanning a physical document for character recognition requires minimal effort and equipment, it can be as easy as point and click. All you need is your phone’s camera with a scanner application or your printer’s scanning function, and you’re good to go. Additionally, software powered with OCR technology is the best suitable solution when it comes to scanning business documents and processing data.
It Saves You Money
Having your employees encode physical documents loses not only time but also money. As explained before, you can use extra staff on other tasks as soon as the encoding is finished. When you use OCR for this purpose, task delegation becomes more efficient and productive.
Furthermore, using OCR also paves the way for a fully digital business workplace. Having a paperless business saves you money as much as it does with the environment. You don’t have to buy as many reams of paper and ink anymore. You can also use the space otherwise, for instance, used as a storage room to expand your workplace.
Although many people assume that OCR technology may go for a hefty price, the investment is undoubtedly worth it in the long run. Especially if you invest in an all-in-one automation platform that incorporates OCR technology together with additional advanced intelligent automation tools, then, your investment is worth it, for sure.
It Gives You a Better Information Database
Using an OCR system enables you to use your own centralized and automated business intelligence. Think of it as having Google but specialized for your business. With improved data access, searchability, and usability, you can search for a name and it will show the complete information about that person, such as their contact number, email, and address. You can also find updating and deleting information much easier with a database. Securely dispatching printed documents containing sensitive information requires shredding, while digital information requires a few clicks and bin cleaning.
Likewise, updating information requires a few clicks and revisions, whereas physical copies must be retouched and sometimes countersigned. Having an automated and centralized database will also improve your customer service. Some customers understandably need quick replies, and searching among piled-up paper trails can be pretty tricky, especially in high-stress situations.
It’s More Secure With Some Measures
Digitizing physical documents ensures that they’ll be free from damages that they would otherwise get from time and elements. Financial expert Daniel Kurt wrote that natural disasters pose significant risks to businesses regarding physical assets such as loss of equipment, buildings, and physical documents.
OCR technology also boasts a 99% information accuracy on documents encoded. This leads to lesser human errors, which would be easily overlooked otherwise. Wrong information entry is particularly problematic in data-sensitive companies such as legal firms and financial institutions.
Of course, going digital also has its own risks, such as hacking and data corruption. You can easily counter these by employing a data privacy officer and investing in highly reliable encryption and anti-virus software, or on a platform with built-in privacy and encryption features, the ability to set access rights, and so forth.
It Improves Customer Satisfaction
In addition, OCR helps you improve the customer retention rate. Customers like it when you tend to their needs quickly and efficiently. Imagine searching for piled-up folders while you’re tending to an irritated customer. Surely the levels of stress will burn you out faster than you know it.
With OCR, it takes a few simple clicks to verify your customer’s questions. Do they need a copy of their receipt from five years ago? Don’t worry, a quick word search of their surname after scanning a document will give you quick results.
Using Advanced Technology for Further Business Efficiency
The use of advanced OCR and AI technologies is increasing the business efficiency of every company. In general, technology really does make it easier for businesses to flourish. A good grasp of cognitive automation technologies and the proper automation software will give you the competitive edge needed to keep things afloat and smooth-fairing. That said, Optical Character Recognition is an excellent way to optimize your business for a more seamless operation.
So go ahead and digitally reinvent your business. Our low-code automation software can help you make the right decisions to increase efficiency. Learn more about how Comidor Document Analyser Models use OCR technology to assist businesses in scanning documents such as invoices and creating digital copies. Talk to us.
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