Days, when paper documents were managed in cabinets and searched using color codes, are long gone. Most of us prefer digital documents since they are easy to edit and share through electronic mediums.
But how do you convert your load of paperwork and digital documents in different devices into files that are easy to access, edit and share?
The fastest and most effortless method of achieving this is using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software
What is OCR?
Generally, a document can have text, images, and numbers in it. While many of us can recognize the difference between words and images, a computer cannot. Computers only understand binary codes, which is typically the combination of two numbers – 0 and 1.
The purpose of OCR is to convert all data from documents into a series of universal binary lines. The result of this is a computer scan that can be easily read and re-assembled data that can make your future searches easier.
With this, OCR, in simple terms, is a specialized form of software that allows people to convert their hard-copy content into digital files. OCR software is built to simplify the data-entry industry by creating effortless searches and storage.
Who Can Leverage OCR?
OCR has managed to make data processing simpler and straight-forward for many organizations with heavy document flow in their daily work processes.
Right from businesses in financial sectors, mortgage and banking to those in healthcare, payroll and legal sectors, anyone can leverage this technology.
You can use OCR-based data entry to simplify the storage and searches of documents. These documents include, but are not limited to:
- Financial statements
- Tax documents
- Legal filings
- Industry articles
- Contact information – business cards, letters, flyers, etc.
- And more!
How Does OCR Work?
OCR synchronizes your documents to your computers, tablets, phones, and every system to ensure automated displays.
Before this, data entry is achieved through a three-stage process.
- Pre-processing the document
The OCR software starts by pre-processing the document to maximize on the accuracy of the conversion process.
There are different methods of document pre-processing. These include segmentation, line removal, and de-skewing.
- Feature Extraction
Also known as Matrix matching or pattern matching, Feature extraction is part of the OCR algorithm used to commence the conversion process.
This utilizes a stored glyph that’s matched to the document’s elements that are being converted. Matrix Matching largely depends on the type and size of the font that works best for those documents that have conventional fonts.
The stored glyphs are then broken down into more precise elements that are then used for accurate differentiation between the characters of a document. This process is complex as it has precise requirements. For example, an image should be clean and have 300 dpi as its minimum resolution. Nevertheless, matrix matching can work even on less-than-ideal images.
After matrix matching, post-processing is done. This stage ensures maximum document accuracy and gives you the final converted document that is easy to store, edit, sync, and share.
9 Key Advantages of OCR-Based Data Entry
- More Productivity
OCR technology allows businesses to retrieve data immediately when needed, thus heightening productivity levels. Employees do not have to make many trips to the central file records room to get the required documents as they can access all they want without leaving their desks.
As a result, the time and effort that would have otherwise been used in extracting data can be channeled into core business activities.
- Cost Reduction
OCR technology does away with the need for organizations to hire file room or extraction professionals, hence reducing payroll expenses in a big way.
This tool also allows a business to trim other costs like printing, copying, typing, shipping, and so on. A business using OCR-based data entry will not suffer the cost of lost or misplaced documents and will enjoy savings in the form of reclaimed office space that would otherwise have been used to store paper documents.
- High Accuracy
Inaccuracy is one of the major challenges of data entry. Automated data entry tools like OCR facilitate efficient data entry by minimizing errors and mistakes.
Besides, common business problems such as data loss can be tackled successfully through OCR-based data entry. Since manpower is not involved, issues like accidentally keying in the wrong information are completely done away with.
- More Storage Space
OCR scans documents and catalogs information from enterprise-wide hardcopy documents. This implies that data from paper documents can be successfully stored in an electronic format in servers. Hence, the need for maintaining tons of paper files is eradicated.
In this way, OCR-based data entry serves as one of the best tools for implementing a paperless approach across organizations.
- Superior Data Security
Paper documents are prone to loss through misplacement, theft, and destruction by fires, pests, moisture, and other natural factors.
However, this does not apply to scanned and analyzed data that has been stored in digital formats. Additionally, access to digital files can be restricted or minimized to cut down data integrity issues and prevent mishandling.
- OCR Documents are 100% Text-Searchable
One of the greatest benefits of OCR data processing is that it makes digital documents fully text-searchable. This makes it possible for professionals to quickly lookup names, numbers, addresses, and other parameters that differentiate documents.
- Hugely Improves Customer Service
Most inbound contact centers offer information that their customers seek. Some of these will have to access some order-related or personal information to serve their customers. To such businesses, quick accessibility of data is essential.
OCR helps in storing and retrieving documents systematically through digital channels at blazing speeds. Hence, customer waiting time is drastically reduced and customer experience enhanced. The Small Business Chron has great tips for you about increasing customer experience.
- Makes Documents Editable
Most of the time, scanned documents require editing, especially if some information must be updated. OCR software converts data to preferred formats like word, thereby allowing easy content editing.
Also, some important documents that shouldn’t be modified can be converted to direct PDF format. This allows only the author to edit if there is any need for updating.
The OCR editing feature can be of great help when there are contents that have to be regularly changed or constantly updated.
- Disaster Recovery
OCR helps you to do away with piled-up data documents by storing them in electronic devices.
When data is electronically stored on secure servers and distributed to systems, it stays safe even upon emergencies.
This means that if there are natural calamities or sudden data breakouts, you can quickly retrieve your data to restore business continuation. This article on The Tech Republic contains useful information on disaster recovery for you.
With the many benefits of OCR-based data entry, it makes sense for any business or institution to invest in this technology. To try it out, you can look for the best free software like OCR to download or make a low-cost premium software purchase.
Outsourcing OCR-based data entry services to a reliable firm can also help you save tremendous costs and your valuable time. This would be useful especially if you have loads of files you need to be incorporated into a central digital system for easy access, sharing, and enhanced safety.
You will also enjoy more data accuracy, more storage space, and higher productivity at a lower cost.