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Does Traditional OCR Have Your Company Stuck In The Past? Why OCR Is Incompatible with True Digital Transformation

May 7, 2019

Optical character recognition (OCR) has been around for decades, and it’s still a technology that’s regularly used to scan and process paper or PDF forms. Although OCR is a well-established tool for data capture, it has a number of inherent problems that make it less than ideal when you’re thinking about true digital transformation.

We believe that OCR keeps your business trapped by thinking about forms inside the old “PDF paradigm” – viewing a form as a static and fillable document. Asking a customer to fill out a blank form by hand and then scanning it back to use OCR isn’t exactly a digital or mobile-friendly experience. Not to mention, OCR systems are notorious for data errors that result in high NIGO (not in good order) scores.

So here’s a deeper dive into the issues and challenges of OCR, and how you might think differently about data capture and forms.


How Optical Character Recognition Works

Here’s how businesses typically use OCR solutions to manage forms data:

  1. A customer, employee or other stakeholder downloads a PDF form or prints a paper one.
  2. They go through the form, gathering information and filling in each field by hand.
  3. They send the form back to your business where it enters a queue.
  4. The form gets scanned and OCR technology parses the information and turns it into usable data.
  5. That data is sent to back-office systems for customer management purposes.

How OCR Scanning Stops Digital Transformation

While that process sounds simple and straightforward, it can go wrong in plenty of ways.

The Customer Has to Find a Form

The modern customer journey means making things as fast, easy and convenient as possible for your users. Putting the impetus onto your customer or agent for having to find and download or print the right form doesn’t leave a great first impression.

Filling in Forms is Cumbersome and Awkward

No one likes having to fill in forms, especially when they’re lengthy and require lots of data. Unfortunately, for OCR scanning, it’s a necessary evil. The scanner and OCR software expects to see specific data in each field, and leaving it out can cause errors.

Receiving and Scanning Forms Takes Too Long

In the digital era, consumers want to interact with you quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, posting a form back and then waiting for it to be scanned before processing can add several days to processing lead times. Meanwhile, your prospective customer might choose a competitor instead.

OCR Scanning Can Introduce Data Errors

No matter how well a form is filled out, or how good the OCR scanning hardware and software, perfect scanning isn’t possible. This creates wastage, inefficiencies and duplication of effort in your business. Not to mention compliance errors. Going back to the customer to make corrections or gather more information just takes more time.


Data Capture and Digital Transformation: Rethinking Forms

If you don’t want to rely on OCR scanning, what methods can you use to collect customer information quickly and simply? We recommend changing static forms to smart, guided digital interviews, similar to what you see with Rocket Mortgage or TurboTax.

  • Customers are asked “what do you want to do today” instead of having to search for the right form
  • The interview experience is personalized with information you already know in your system, and customers can confirm known data rather than rekeying it
  • Customers can enter information using digital and mobile apps, such as geo location and cameras to take photos of identification
  • Business rules govern what questions are asked, based on the customer’s needs
  • Data is automatically synched back to core systems, without the need for intermediate steps like OCR
  • Personalized documents and agreements are generated automatically – tied to e-signing for fast close
  • Automated workflows update the right people at the right time

This is the truly digital way to go about getting the right details. Everything is seamlessly provided online, you only ask the questions you really need to, and due to the verification process, error rates fall to almost zero.

If you’ve got dozens or hundreds of existing forms, and you need to move them to digital, we can help. Learn more about how Intelledox can help you transform your PDF forms into a truly interactive customer experience. And here’s how the Intelledox Infiniti platform can substantially reduce your NIGO error rates. Don’t get caught in the scanning cycle, make a true leap into digital transformation by using technology your customers will love.

For more information, read our white paper on why forms shouldn’t be a four letter word, and get in touch.

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