Intelligent Automation Series: Are Legacy Technologies Like OCR and RPA Holding You Back?

Let’s face it: documents entering your business workflows are not perfect. Add to that the pressure of high volumes, complicated business processes, and the obvious need to maintain accuracy – you end up investing in legacy systems that offer little to address the highlighted issues.

Technologies That Are Holding You Back

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology that identifies characters from printed books, handwritten papers, or images. OCR has been around for decades and used by businesses to transfer documents into their digital systems. One of the most glaring limitations of OCR is that it cannot interpret the information. OCR offers a semi-accurate text representation of the image/scanned document but not the structured information required for ERP. OCR-centric solutions were good when you had large volumes of simple documents that do not have a lot of variation – not anymore.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. With RPA tools, you can configure the software to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems. RPA scenarios range from something as simple as generating an automatic response to an email to deploying thousands of bots, each programmed to automate manual work. As amazing as it sounds, RPA only works for pre-defined, structured processes and rule-based data extraction. RPA relies on human intervention to manage unstructured documents, resulting in costly and time-consuming processes.

No Stand-Alone Solution

Since OCR cannot interpret information extracted from a specific document and RPA is limited to pre-defined processes. So, either of the solutions are not effective for achieving end-to-end automation. This necessitates the combination of other machine learning technologies, supplementary workflows, and multiple checkpoints for accuracy. Does this sound like making your life easy?

Higher Costs

Both technologies are resource-intensive, requiring additional integrations for effective performance and more people to make sure things are working. A rule-based approach also requires human effort to create templates. That can quickly become outdated.

Processing Delays

If you are using OCR or RPA, you are spending a lot of time validating the output and redoing extraction if the data was not accurate. Not very efficient is it? And imagine if you miss an error, it could lead to audit fines, reputational damage, and implementation of incorrect business processes.

So, What Are My Options?

OCR and RPA can be part of the puzzle but not the entire solution. Do not let these outdated systems be a roadblock in your business growth. In our next blog, we will look at how Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) is the future.

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