The popularity of OCR has seen a rise over the past few years, particularly due to its ability to work hand-in-hand with AI and other automated software. But, what actually is OCR, and how can it be leveraged in business applications? Let’s take a look.
What is OCR?
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. Essentially, this technology converts an image of text into a format that is then readable by a machine. Though this might be confused with the idea of scanning, it has an extra step. Whereas scanning manually takes a snapshot of the text and allows you to store it, OCR automatically extracts the text data, and can then read the data to further automate certain processes. First, it takes an image, before preparing and cleaning it for clarity. Then, it reads the image using feature extraction or text recognition. Lastly, the extracted data is stored as a computerised file. Let’s take a look at an example of OCR in action.
OCR has long since been utilised by online casinos, especially when it comes to live casino games. For example, when playing live roulette at Paddy Power, the croupier spins the wheel in real time, allowing the ball to land on a number. OCR then takes the image of the result and converts it into binary data, recording the number and colour that has been landed on. It does so by matching the lines and patterns of the numbers against pre-programmed glyphs, differentiating between the black or red background and white text, which then allows OCR to accurately record the result. In doing so, this ensures the fairness of the game – and, if a player happened to miss the initial call, the result can be displayed on the screen during the live stream.
So, now you know how OCR works, how can it benefit business processes?
Business Applications of OCR
One of the key benefits of OCR is that it can automate time consuming tasks, freeing up employees to carry out more jobs that add value, as defined by Indeed. As OCR can read documents, it can be programmed to automatically process numerous different records, sorting, organising, and storing them as it goes. This can be leveraged by multiple different teams within an organisation, particularly HR and finance departments.
For example, say your business was hiring for a new role, and some candidates sent over their applications in a hard copy, and some via email. To ensure that everything stays in the same place, OCR can read the CVs and convert them into digital files, organising them into different folders. An article on Workable suggests that you could then employ AI to sort through the applications, filtering out those who didn’t include key requirements.
In addition to this, OCR can reduce the risk of manual errors. OCR can read the data and automate the inputting of this data into your system, which can be particularly useful again in financial applications, as well as logistics. In doing so, businesses can automate the tracking of receipts, invoices, payments, and even packages, optimising efficiency.
As you can see, OCR has the potential to improve accuracy, efficiency, and productivity within the workplace, allowing employees more time to do what they do best. Ultimately, this can not only improve your bottom line, but also boost employee satisfaction and retention in the long run.