The business world is full of documents. You get receipts from vendors, statements from lenders, and copies of contracts. Of course, all of this paperwork becomes problematic if you only have it in physical format.

What if there is a natural disaster that floods your building and soaks the filing cabinet or a fire that sweeps through your offices. You find yourself trying to fish important documents out of the wreckage.

Your other option is OCR technology. Not familiar with OCR? Keep reading and we’ll provide a brief guide to OCR tech and who finds use for it.

What is OCR Technology?

OCR technology is just shorthand for optical character recognition. The technology examines images of documents for text and puts that text into digital files that you can read or edit, such as a PDF or Word document.

So, let’s say someone sends you a boilerplate contract as a PDF, but you want some changes or to remove a clause. You can get a PDF editor, or you can use OCR software to put the contract into an editable form. Once you get it into an editable form, you can adjust the contract to suit your needs.

How Does It Work?

Optical character recognition depends on a two-part system. You need the hardware component for creating the image itself. This can range from a dedicated scanner to the cameras in a phone. In the end, the hardware must simply produce a clear image in the right image format. 

Once you get the image, that’s when the software takes up the slack. The software will things like pattern recognition to identify letters and numbers in the images. Some OCR software will even make best guesses based on partial information from the image.

Software developers can even bake OCR into custom systems using things like OCR .Net.

Common Uses

OCR technology sees widespread use across a number of industries and even in academia. For example, academics will sometimes run across fragile historical documents. They’ll end up scanning documents to preserve them, but use OCR tech to put the content into an editable form.

Businesses will often use OCR to create digital versions of receipts or important documents. That can prove useful in automating data entry and indexing documents. You can also use it to digitize old files for digital record-keeping.

Banks will OCR technology for things like electronic check deposits.

OCR Technology and You

OCR technology offers you certain kinds of benefits. It helps you create digital versions of documents, which you can then use for a range of applications. It can help you streamline data entry or automate processes, like check deposits.

OCR tech is also useful for preserving documents for record-keeping. For example, if you have old documents or files that you want to hang onto, OCR can get a digital version that you can store in the cloud.

Looking for more tech options that can prove helpful in your business? Check out some of the posts over in our Technology section.