Grace Information Management Blog

Forms, surveys and questionnaires have long been an invaluable way for companies to gather information about the quality of their services and the customer who use them.

In the not too distant past, the only way to record this information was to hire data entry operators to manually key it into computers, both a costly and time consuming exercise.

With the introduction of OCR and ICR technologies, companies have the ability to revolutionise the way they record and analyse the information, yet it appears many companies are failing to take up the technology and those that are, aren’t using it to its full potential.

A 2012 study conducted by character-recognition technology provider, Parascript, and AIIM, the association for information management professionals, found the majority of businesses surveyed (88%) say they scan forms, but only 32 perform text recognition, such as OCR and ICR, to automatically make that data readily available for use in their organisation.

So what is OCR and ICR and how can it help your company?

OCR stands for optical character recognition. This handy software tool recognises and translates printed alphanumeric characters, i.e. typed documents, into editable and searchable data.

Without this technology a scanner simply copies a document as an image, meaning it is static and not able to be changed. In contrast, OCR recognises letters on the image and puts them into words, allowing the original document to be edited. Businesses can then use the copy and paste tools on the document, instead of rewriting everything to correct it.

ICR, or intelligent character recognition, is essentially a newer and better version of OCR in that it recognises and translates handwritten text into machine readable characters. In the Parascript and AIIM study, 42 per cent of respondents recorded having hand-written data fields on more than half of their forms and 60 per cent recognised these fields as being important to their business.

OCR and ICR, not only make the process of recording the information quicker, they also boast an accuracy rate of approximately 98 per cent, the same achieved by data entry operators. For the 55 per cent of respondents who claim to manually re-key in the data as part of their workflow, these technologies could provide a major boost in productivity.

While many surveyed agreed ICR would achieve a considerable level of productivity savings (34%), local decision-making and difficulty in accommodating different types of form layouts were identified as main reasons for not adopting the technology, followed by a lack of designated owner.

Fortunately, Grace Information Management can help steer you on the right track. We specialise in OCR and ICR software. Through our intensive consultative process we can develop integrated, customised applications to suit your data capture needs or we can even do all the hard work for you. Our modern OCR and ICR scanners can scan your documents in minutes, with the information able to be uploaded to our secure site for your viewing. With the help of Grace Information Management you can make sure you get the most out of your forms, surveys and questionnaires.