Advances in scanning and data capture technologies are leading more and more businesses to deploy optical character recognition (OCR) at the front end of their document imaging systems. The goal of OCR automation typically is to reduce the labor and cost of manual keying of data.

Organizations can derive further value from sharing the captured information immediately wherever it is needed throughout the business. As Kevin Craine relates in “The Five Phases of Capture,” advanced data capture can be a “magic ingredient” that opens the door to significant business advantages and process improvements that make intelligent capture a strategic part of the enterprise.

The movement to deploy advanced capture is being driven by continuous improvement in image quality and data recognition that enables scan/capture systems to capture, classify, extract, and validate data from all types of documents.

As PayStream Advisors reports, advances in data-capture tools have coincided with a surge in the number of companies deploying front-end imaging solutions. A PayStream Advisors survey of invoice automation found “a dramatic jump” in OCR accuracy, with a significant drop in error correction required, and with 35% of those surveyed reporting 100% accuracy.

Depending on your needs (full page or zonal OCR) and the layout and readability of data in your documents and forms, there are different OCR products and approaches that that you can choose to implement. We are seeing a rise in interest among customers to improve their data-entry processes by deploying advanced data capture using products such as Kofax’s KTM, Hyland’s AnyDoc, and IBM’s Datacap.

Customers who have deployed Kofax’s basic capture and image improvement VRS software see the move to Kofax Transformation Modules (KTM) as a natural progression to advanced data capture. Hyland’s recent acquisition of AnyDoc makes the combined Hyland OnBase and AnyDoc solution an attractive option, eliminating the need to buy licenses and receive support from two separate vendors.

As recognition accuracy and business process automation have advanced, scan/capture systems have evolved from basic scanning systems—where the main goal was to eliminate the need to manually key in document information—to front ends for enterprise-wide document automation systems.

Data extracted during the document scanning operation can be fed to a variety of enterprise line-of-business systems—including loans, claims, healthcare, financial, sales, business intelligence, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and customer service systems—to improve productivity and yield competitive advantages.

As Derrick Murphy points out in “The Evolution of Document Scanning,” by better automating document scanning at the point at which most documents enter an organization, rather than trying to get at critical data downstream, organizations can reduce cost and take inefficiencies out of document-driven business processes such as claims processing and invoice routing. This approach, says Murphy, advances what are common business objectives—to improve responsiveness and customer service by eliminating downstream exceptions.

Among the innovative scan/capture solutions emerging in the content management arena is Kofax’s Mobile Capture, which enables workers and customers in the field use the cameras on their mobile devices to capture images, extract data from the images, and transmit the data downstream for use in business applications.

As Kofax explains, advantages can be gained by taking an enterprise approach to document capture through the immediate delivery of extracted data directly into workflows and business systems—including transactional and time-sensitive business processes like mortgage approvals and insurance claims.

Imaging Solutions has created systems for customers in which data collected during scanning and indexing via OCR is fed to accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and other line-of-business systems. We also have created solutions in which verification checks of electronically captured (barcode and OCR) data are performed against external databases.

Advanced capture also allows you to extract data that can be shared for business intelligence purposes. WinGreen Marketing Systems describes how automating accounts payable can enable business intelligence systems to capture and analyze purchasing data that can improve a company’s competitiveness. WingGreen advises organizations to begin creating business intelligence processes and analytics for the automation of accounts payable during the planning and implementation stages of document imaging.

Similarly, Wendi Klein of A2iA describes how, by utilizing advanced data capture, an isolated archive can make the transition to an “intelligent archive.” The increase in accessible and searchable information from a central repository, says Klein, “not only speeds knowledge distribution, but it elevates the organization’s global intelligence.”

Forrester Research predicts that during the next five years document imaging will continue to advance as capture platforms incorporate analytics, business process management, case management, and stronger integration with enterprise production platforms. Forrester sees analytics, in particular, taking capture to a higher level.

With the trend towards harnessing Big Data for predictive analytics and targeted marketing, capturing data at multiple entry points can help create the richer and well-rounded profiles of prospects and customers that enable businesses to succeed in these efforts.