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The Real Cost of OCR – How Machine Learning and SaaS Helps You Save Money With Data Capture Automation

Read Time: 3 minutes

If you’ve set out on a search to acquire optical character recognition (OCR) technology, then you’re probably no stranger to the big claims and incredible promises offered up by OCR software vendors. But at the core, most OCR software platforms revolve around rather “dumb” automation that can limit or even negate any savings — financial or time-based.


How Does OCR Scanner Software Work?

A majority of OCR scanning software programs involve simplistic robots that “read” images and translate the shapes into alphanumeric characters and other simple data forms.

Once captured, the data can be queried, organized or analyzed, bringing forth useful insights to guide business operations and beyond.

Does OCR Data Capture Save Time and Money? – Human Oversight

This simple OCR technology may be suitable if you’re scanning clear, well-printed text documents with Arial font, but anything beyond this can pose a challenge. OCR can struggle with non-mainstream fonts, handwriting and data that’s outside the realm of highly-structured. The end result: large volumes of data with missing or incorrect characters (e.g. “l” in place of “1” and “i” in place of “l”).

While you may save a bit of time by avoiding manual data entry, this simplistic OCR data capture technology virtually always requires human intervention. A human reviewer must review the captured data to verify accuracy and correct errors. At the end of the day, any savings is going to be negligible. That’s less-than-ideal for a company or organization that’s in search of true data capture automation.

OCR Data Capture Costs – Licensing and Support

Any worthwhile OCR software platform is going to carry a price tag. After all, you get what you pay for and you should expect this to ring true in the world of OCR data capture technology. Add this cost to the cost of the humans who will need to review the data to verify accuracy and the numbers can shift into the red.

Licensing fees may also be recurring. Some software platforms license on an annual basis. If the license is not renewed, the software may be rendered useless and essential updates will become unavailable until the license is renewed.

Support costs can also eat into any potential savings that a company was seeking to achieve by moving away from manual data entry toward a more automated solution. It’s not uncommon for software to come with free support for a limited timeframe such as 90 or 120 days. Some have even started to upcharge support as an “add on” or “extra” subscription-style offering.

For those who do offer a period of free support, read the fine print because there is commonly a rather hefty fee for any assistance that’s rendered down the road.

These support costs can quickly add up, as developers have clearly discovered that individualized support has a tremendous monetary value. They realize that it’s extraordinarily frustrating when the only “free” support is available via a forum where equally-clueless users take days to offer up minimally useful bits of advice.

It’s clear that good, individualized support is essential when a piece of software plays a central role in your operations. But the cost of this support must be factored into those calculations as you crunch the numbers.

Increasing Savings With Machine Learning-Powered OCR Software

If saving time and money is your objective, consider machine learning technology can make all the difference. When machine learning is integrated into OCR data capture software, the accuracy, speed and overall capabilities are enhanced dramatically. What’s more, performance — and thus, cost savings — actually improves over time.

OCR data capture software with machine learning capabilities will learn from its mistakes. Humans can also provide feedback that’s applied to future data capture projects. Bottom line: machine learning adds intelligence to an otherwise “dumb” robot.

Additional savings may also be realized by opting for a Software as a Service (SaaS) OCR software solution. This SaaS approach allows companies to avoid licensing costs, paid support plans and other factors that quickly increase the price tag.

To learn more about how your business can integrate data capture automation into your business with SaaS machine learning-powered OCR software solutions, Visit

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