Intelligent character recognition, or ICR for short, is a technology that was developed in the ’90s based on the basic principles of OCR (Optical Character Recognition). It involves automated processes of pattern matching to digitize documents into machine-readable data. This way, companies are able to automatically process their paper-based documents without any human interference. With the size of the global Deep Learning market expected to reach US$44.3 billion by 2027, more and more companies are looking into data extraction through DL-based solutions, especially to achieve higher rates of accuracy and automation.
Data Extraction Through OCR
Although OCR software has improved over the years, it works on old principles. First, the software scans a document and filters out unnecessary noise (such as stray marks), then it zooms in on characters that need to be interpreted. For example, it is able to differentiate between “p” and “q” after comparing it with other “p’s” and “q’s” from a stored catalog. After such analysis, the OCR software is able to accept valid words like “flower” over “flewer” since that word is already present in a stored dictionary. However, all positives aside, the OCR technology has some limitations as well. Two major concerns it poses are listed below:
- OCR focuses on printed documents
- It is highly sensitive to fonts i-e it does not work efficiently and accurately for hand-written texts
It is vital to understand that for business to grow, Digital transformation is an ongoing process. From the legal industry to the healthcare sector, paper-based, hand-written documents are unavoidable and their automated conversion and interpretation have become a necessity. Organisations need to digitize these paper documents to leverage data in digital files.
To accomplish this, ICR software stepped in.
ICR Software and How they Work
Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) software is an advanced form and subset of OCR technology. Whereas OCR software is able to recognize printed text only, ICR software can accurately identify and interpret hand-written texts of various styles and fonts. Examples of documents that require ICR software for automated data extraction and its conversion into machine-readable include:
- Doctor’s Prescription
- Billing Invoices
- Checks and Loan Applications
- Signed Business Contracts
- Purchase Orders
- Travel Expenses
- Customer surveys
Text conversion of all these paper-based documents into machine-readable form for the purpose of digitally inputting captured data into an organisation’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, is possible thanks to ICR technology. As a Handwriting Recognition Software, ICR reader interprets the hand-written data from scanned documents in order to integrate it into the ECM system which further assists in streamlining business processes, such as analytical reporting.
Benefits of ECM Equipped with ICR Software
Once you utilize your ECM equipped with ICR software, your ECM becomes more effective. Without ICR, a company’s ECM system would only be able to recognize printed text. Any hand-written information existing on forms or documents would remain unscanned. That is why Intelligent Document Recognition software is essential for the extraction process to be efficient and accurate. Using hand-written data this way eliminates the tedious task of manual data entry and increases the accuracy of the data being entered into the system.
ICR VS Manual Data Entry
Here’s a summary of the importance of using ICR technology for data extraction instead of relying on the manual process of data entry.
- With the help of ICR software, human resource requirements are reduced
- With automated systems in place, less time is consumed, the text extracted likely has fewer errors which ultimately leads to more efficiency of document-related operations
- Improved security, as paper-based documents, can be misplaced or stolen.
- No need for companies to invest in renting storage spaces, as the documents will be stored digitally.
- Improves customer service, as it becomes easier for customer service teams to rapidly process customer requests.
- The content in documents becomes editable.
- Improved compliance, as document trail can be traced by auditors once data is stored online.
- Companies are able to automatically process their paper-based documents without any human interference with the help of ICR Software
- ICR technology takes over OCR technology as it can also turn hand-written and paper-based data into machine-readable text
- ECM system being integrated with ICR technology streamlines processes like analytical reporting
- The manual process of data collection interpretation and organization is error-prone, costly, inconvenient, and time-consuming.