Here is why Enterprise-grade Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are critical for your organization
Automated Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) software can turn your company’s document dystopia into a data-rich paradise. We are here to answer your remaining questions about OCR, ICR and NLP, and to show you how these technologies can benefit your operations.
What is OCR / ICR and how do they work?
The best OCR solution can take almost any form of document—be it a photo of a text or a scanned TIFF, Excel, PDF, Word, or PowerPoint file— and convert it into a full-text, searchable PDF complete with metadata that is a one-to-one representation of the original document.
In the example above, the original document was a scanned image of an agreement, and not searchable. Optical Character Recognition turned this file into a text-searchable document that can be saved as a full-text PDF with all file attributes, such as selection and copying of content, in-document search, text highlight, etc.
With time, OCR has evolved into intelligent character recognition (ICR) technology, which is capable of recognizing handwritten text and/or fonts. In comparison, OCR specializes in capturing typed-up content. Since ICR can process handwriting and complex fonts, it can manage more document types than OCR alone.
Further, under the OCR umbrella, live the lesser-known optical recognition siblings, such as optical mark recognition (OMR), magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), and 1D and 2D barcode recognition (BCR).
What is NLP and how is it connected to OCR?
NLP stands for natural language processing and is a Machine Learning (ML) science focused on teaching computers to understand speech patterns, contextual and language nuances. NLP is the main technology used for classification and analyzing of documents, and subsequently extraction of data.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are often used together to provide high-accuracy document digitization and classification. OCR is used to scan, recognize text in various file formats like images, emails, PowerPoint presentations, scanned receipts, and more, and convert them into digital text documents, like PDF, XML, and other, for further processing in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. NLP is then used to contextualize the content and classify the documents to provide better insight for data analysis, such as adding search filters for document filing, extracting metadata and more.
What is the difference between Free OCR and Enterprise-grade OCR?
OCR technology has been around for decades, and the internet is proliferated with countless OCR and NLP solutions, price range from freeware to thousands of dollars.
What sets a freeware OCR solutions apart from an enterprise-grade Document Transformation platform? When looking for an enterprise OCR solution, consider the following:
- Ability to process hundreds of file formats
Many tools today offer free OCR services for every day uses. For example, Microsoft OneNote or Photo Scan apps, Google Docs, SimpleOCR or even most mobile camera apps can lift the text from an imported image. These are generally limited to working with the popular image files, such as jpeg, png, tiff and bmp. The accuracy of the end result is dependent on the quality and resolution of the image and ranges anywhere from 80% - 90%. (More on OCR quality later.) If your business works with documents that originate from different sources and come in a range of file types, consider looking into a robust solution that can ingest and output various file formats.
Why do your operations need OCR?
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems provide 3 vital functions in many organizations: helping you integrate your processes, improve information access, and ensure governance through a central content management platform. While this technology is a step up from the stuffing-paper-into-filing-cabinets phase, ECM systems are not without issue.
According to Forrester, 70% of enterprises use 2 - 4 Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, while 29% use 4 or more. Content duplication and version control across multi-ECM ecosystem is a painful reality that IT and content management teams work tirelessly on resolving.
“For the majority of workers, it can take hours or even days to find the right data they need. Only 3% of employees can get the data to answer their questions in seconds.”
— Sigma: Top 20 Big Data Statistics for 2020
Highly-regulated industries, such as oil and gas, insurance, and bio-pharma, are plagued by the immense amounts of documentation required to run a compliant, competitive, and profitable organization. These documents, which can number into the millions, typically come in a dizzying array of formats and represent a significant portion (~80%!) of enterprise content. The challenge is that even though majority of these are digital, they are completely unsearchable, rendering their content useless to other applications and analytics software.
The first step toward digitization is ensuring that content is in a machine-readable format that can be easily accessed and processed.
This is where OCR comes to the rescue. An enterprise OCR solution is capable to take all that dark, unstructured, unsearchable content and transform it into digital, indexable format complete with metadata that feeds into your ECM systems. Read this blog to learn why metadata is important >
A good enterprise OCR platform not only delivers critical business insight into your boardrooms, it also de-duplicates your company content, prepares it for long-term archiving according to government mandates, and significantly improves internal information sharing.
If you are still unsure about the benefits of an enterprise OCR solution, ask yourself these questions:
Data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers than their peers.
— McKinsey Global Institute
- Will it make your co-workers more efficient if they could easily navigate and find all relevant information contained in company documents?
- Would it improve your relationship with customers if your frontline staff could pull up all customer relevant data in a matter of minutes while speaking with them on the phone?
- Would your leadership consider it critical to gain insight into company data hidden across email threads, attachments, presentations and other documents?
- How much time would it save your senior team members to onboard new employees and share knowledge with increased transparency into company documentation?
- Would your business analysts gain a higher confidence level when human data entry errors have been eliminated with automated data capture?
- Would your teams become more efficient if they could focus on business-critical tasks versus spending time on manually searching, transcribing, fixing, converting files to digital PDFs?
What is so special about Adlib’s OCR and NLP?
There are many desktop OCR applications on the market today but very few server-based ones. Taking advantage of the benefits offered through server technologies, Adlib’s OCR offers superior performance and accuracy. Check out how Adlib can scale CPU utilization and take on processing hundreds of thousands of pages for our enterprise customers.
Adlib is a leading enterprise solution with a high customer satisfaction rate: 95% of leading pharma companies use and trust Adlib.
- Helen Rosen, CEO of Adlib
Here are the 10 ways Adlib OCR is a superior product on the market:
- Document fidelity
Adlib’s OCR creates a fully-digital text layer on top of your document maintaining its original formatting, branding and imagery.
Digital Transformation cannot succeed without a robust OCR platform
To set up your organization for a successful digital transformation, choosing the right OCR solution for managing your unstructured data is critical for ensuring data confidence, seamless automation and reliable output.