Driven by AI and Deep Learning, the long-invested OCR technology recognises scanned text and extracts meaningful information out of it.
Without Optical Character Recognition (OCR), scouring through cabinets of records at the most urgent hour and finding the one you are looking for would be nearly impossible. The automated technology of converting handwritten or printed text into machine-coded text has made businesses easier to function for a long time. According to Grand View Research, the OCR market is expected to grow up to $26 billion by 2028. The CAGR is expected to rise at16.7 per cent from 2021 to 2028. Yet, this technology never got the spotlight.
While data is everywhere, managing analogue data can be a mammoth task. After OCR technology as a data capturing solution, the digitised information is ready for further, more advanced analysis that can help companies optimise their business processes, reduce overheads, increase revenue rates, and minimise carbon footprints. There are multiple use cases of OCR in several sectors, from comparing documents to validating a cheque.
The BSFI sector has been one of the biggest adopters of this technology. The cheque is scanned and turned into digital points and soon, the signature is confirmed, and the process ends with zero human involvement. A 100 per cent accuracy in printing cheques is possible with OCR, but do they have 100 per cent autonomy over handwritten text? Not yet. Experts believe advances in Deep Learning (DL) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications leveraged on OCR handwriting might move things ahead.
Meanwhile, banks in the Middle East continue to face the challenge of evolving legacy systems, streamlining their business processes and catering to the changing demands of their clientele in the current era of rapid digitisation. As the region holds one of the highest smartphone penetrations, several banks are beginning to invest in advanced OCR technology. For instance, FinanTeq provides the comfort of simplifying mobile banking with OCR. Gulf Bank of Kuwait and Ahli Bank, Qatar partnered with Accura Scan and NEC Payments Bahrain for better customer verification and onboarding process with their improved OCR solutions.
Statements, affidavits, wills, judgments, filings, and records of all the past cases through decades.
When we think of legal documents, an image of a roomful of cartons filled with stacks of documents is the usual first thought. OCR is one of the biggest contributors to legal paperwork management in the industry. Offering fast access, the industry heavily relies on OCR to streamline the paperwork; from digitisation, storage, to the creation of a database and a search engine of all the printed documents. With the advancements of technology, managing Arabic, Chinese and other language scripts has also been made possible.
There are software programs and tools that empower legal professionals to focus on their client and worry less about documentation. With an established presence in the Middle East, a software company Abbyy, offers a web-based document processing service, Cloud OCR SDK, that can help legal offices to improve their document filing management system.
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Healthcare is also a benefactor. Medical history records can be accessed in a local server on every nurse or doctor’s phone and ipads. Why have a roomful of patient records anymore?
OCR digitisation also acts as an advantage to epidemiology and the logistics department that has to keep records of equipment, drugs, and the availability of other disposable products. Such records maintained across branches can make the managements’ lives easier. One enormous database is always preferred to hundreds of data records rooms.
It’s not just inventory records that need the support of OCR technology. While it does demand the fast location of products in warehouses with detailed information and transportation whereabouts, product tracking requires OCR and not just any barcoding application.
The technology can help suppliers read batch codes, lot codes, serial numbers, and even expiration dates. OCR can follow the product during its packaging cycle to the palletising process.
Additionally, a company can program the technology to make comparisons between the current text and the expected text in the database. This will allow barcode mistakes and out of sequence serial numbers to be identified and corrected. Industry leaders claim that OCR and barcodes together can create an accurate collection of information.
OCR is transforming the hospitality sector with faster customer response time and increased kitchen productivity. Creating digital menus has also been handled by OCR for a long time. In recent years, Nanonets, a platform that helps create ML models released the Nanonets OCR API that allows the creation of modern OCR models based on DL methods. This advanced technology helps hotels and restaurants to digitise their menus at ease. Traditional, open-source OCR models face complications that include character and frequency accuracy, insufficient training data, and minimal tools for custom building models.
Pairing OCR with AI
Taking technology into its wings, OCR has paved a way for enhanced automation and secure processes. By leveraging DL, AI, and Machine Learning (ML), OCR technology is evolving. It uses robotic process automation as well to improve efficiency in document processing.
Rapid digitisation has played a critical role in the change of business processes. Companies are more inclined to adopt better technologies for efficiency, enhanced customer experiences, and faster revenue growth.
Smart Engines, a Russian software development company partnered with Promobot to create a high-end document recognition solution. This scanner uses the AI-powered GreenOCR technology to extract identification documents from next-generation biometric passports, without the need to transfer them to third-party sources and the need for human inquiries.
Experts estimate that the advanced OCR technology will eliminate the drawbacks and inaccuracies of the technology and improve the market growth for B2B users.
For instance, IntSig Information Co. Ltd’s CamCard has been leveraged by over 80 per cent of Chinese banks and security organisations for bank card recognition. Another company leveraging AI-powered OCR is Druid Enterprises Chatbots for better communication.
The better and improved OCR technology has created a competitive environment. Calling it a quiet revolution, technology experts state that the modern OCR not only creates improved data collecting software but has begun to understand the content. Human assistance is no longer essential as the technology can successfully identify errors. Although OCR underwent a massive makeover in 2012 after the dawn of DL, some form of the technology has always existed since 1914. It’s high time OCR gets the recognition it deserves.
Top OCR software available for the Middle East
Abbyy Cloud OC SDK: A Transactions on the Web (Tweb)-based document processing service that can improve software systems, SaaS platforms of enterprises. They include AI-based technologies for information extraction.
Acrobat Reader DC: Everyone is familiar with Adobe PDF documents. The software applies OCR to documents and converts them to editable copies. Acrobat Reader DC is connected to Adobe Document Cloud, allowing enterprises to access and store files in Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive.
Rossum: An AI-powered, cloud-based data capture solution that helps improve the speed of document processing up to eight times, with 98 per cent accuracy. Companies such as Pepsico, Veolia, Siemens, Cushman & Wakefield use Rossum.
Readiris 17: Readiris is an OCR software offered by I.R.I.S Group that provides several features including batch processing, convert to PDF, indexing, multi-language, multiple output formats, and text editor.
Maestro Server OCR: The company’S OCR solution CVISION can convert documents into PDF files. Apart from the OCR automation, the company has limitless multi-threading and batch OCR to perform high volume scanning.