Data Capture is simply the extraction of crucial information from a document or image! Storetec have years of experience providing data capture services to business across the UK and Europe! Data capture can enable quicker workflow processes and the ability for businesses to analyse data in a clear, readable format. It can also be used to feed back-office systems with raw data or can be used to validate the raw data against other data outputs to increase accuracy.
How does data capture work?
Firstly, we will digitise the records and complete quality control checks. Following this, our operations team can extract as much, or as little information as you require. For example, with invoices we can capture the: date, customer name, description, price before VAT & price after VAT etc. The extracted data can then be exported to the file format required by the client, i.e. Excel spreadsheet, HTML or CSV.
Forms of data capture
Before the advent of capture technology, document processing was performed by data entry clerks who read and then manually keyed in data from paper documents into electronic forms on a computer, which were structured to mirror the paper forms.
The two key forms of data capture are Machine Capture and Manual Capture.
Manual Capture is the process of physically typing out the information. This form of data capture is a low-tech solution which is particularly useful if the data is handwritten. Software can be poor at reading handwriting as everyone has their own unique style, neatness can depend on speed, and layout isn’t always horizontal. The major downsides to the manual approach are speed, accuracy and space required. Having the manual output typed by two people and then compared for non-matching data, can dramatically reduce human error (double key capture) but will increase the cost.
Machine Capture involves the use of software to read the information, i.e. OCR, ICR and OMR. With machine capture, software systems have been specifically designed to read printed characters or marks and deliver the results in a useful electronic format. The more sophisticated the software has become, the more accurate it can be. Therefore, more time can be saved by the user and minimal space is needed. The only downside to the machine approach is the software can be expensive, it will need extensive configuration and requires a high technology skill level to operate.
Optical Character Recognition(OCR) is the recognition of printed or written text characters by a computer. This involves turning a page or picture into an electronic image. The electronic image is then processed through the OCR software engine. The engine will break down any potential letter shapes, character-by-character, analyse the electronic image, and then translate the character image into text characters. The result is a string of characters and spaces, matched from the database of different font characters held within the OCR software.
Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) is a more advanced form of OCR and can involve multiple OCR engines providing a higher level of accuracy. It can also be used to capture some handwritten information, especially on forms where the location, size and format of information can be restricted. ICR is also used in reading barcodes, QR codes and is used in systems which employ artificial intelligence or machine learning.
Optical Mark Recognition(OMR) is used to detect the absence or presence of a mark in a given location. It is normally employed when capturing data from surveys, assessments, predetermined forms and examinations. The process involves a master document being compared to a document marked by a human. The location of the marks in relation to the master document provide a result set, for example a multiple-choice form with the tick boxes. The marked areas denote the subject’s responses.
Storetec can provide a range of Data Capture services which can be exceptionally useful when dealing with a large number of invoices, surveys, correspondence or form styled documents.
If you would like more information on the service, please do not hesitate to contact us!