OCR Technology: It’s Not All Magic; A Behind the Scenes Look

Posted by Greg Bartels on Dec 16, 2014 12:40:00 PM

While attending the Institute of Finance & Management Conference (IOFM) in Las Vegas, to learn about the developments in financial operations technology and the current state of our industry, it became clear to me that despite the fantastic claims of OCR vendors, the technology for handling multiple invoice formats has not changed a whole lot in the past several years. While the technology continues to improve, it’s not all magic.

Afterwards, at a Penn & Teller magic show, a connection became apparent. What I saw at the magic show was not very different from what the OCR vendors were advertising. All of these vendors are trying to make you believe in a magic solution. What they don’t tell you is the hard work required to create the magic. Throughout the Penn & Teller show, we are constantly reminded of how much work and experience they have put into their show.

What Is OCR, Anyway?

OCR is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? OCR simply refers to converting an image to text using image recognition software. The resulting text can be machine processed, searched, or edited. The output of OCR is unstructured data.

Marketers for document scanners have jumped on this terminology. Supposedly, OCR technology will allow you to manage all your files and the data contained in them. It sounds like a great promise, but it’s misleading—there’s nothing new about this technology that will make the process any easier than before. Unless you have sophisticated and very expensive algorithms to create structured data, you’re getting the same system packaged with new marketing. The reality is that while there are some places OCR might be useful – scanning the check you deposit at your ATM – OCR technology still has limitations where most companies want to use it, which is for high volume, detail level document processing.

Extracting data isn’t the challenge, doing so in a meaningful way is.

At best, OCR is only a small piece of the puzzle, not an end-to-end solution. Managing paper files in-house with nothing more than OCR technology is simply not effective, and most offices are not prepared to take on the challenge.  In order to handle multiple document formats, you need to apply additional layers of technology and subject matter experts.

What does IPS Intelligent Capture give you that OCR alone does not?

As subject matter experts on document management, IPS stays ahead of the curve, developing solutions that will truly make it easy for businesses to deal with their documents. IPS Intelligent Capture encapsulates the entire document management process, utilizing an array of technology, people, and processes. It ensures that your data is not only captured but done so in the smartest and most useful way, able to handle the subtlety and nuance that exists from document to document and form type to form type. While the promise of OCR technology may seem like a magic trick, IPS has put in the work and has the experience to create an Intelligent Capture solution that will take care of everything for you.

If you believe in magic, then buy an OCR solution.

If you truly want to make the work disappear, contact IPS and talk to our experts about Intelligent Capture.

Tags: Document imaging, scanning documents, intelligent capture, OCR