Did you know businesses lose countless hours manually inputting data? Could OCR be your solution?
OCR technology can convert scanned documents and images into machine-readable text, this is useful for automation and analytics. But choosing the right service is essential. Not all OCR services are created equal. Let's talk about that.
This blog is your comprehensive guide to understanding and choosing OCR services, comparing top commercial vendors AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure
Let’s dive into it, picture this: a business gets hundreds of invoices every day. Right now, they've got people whose whole job is to read these papers and type the details into an Excel sheet. It's slow, and yeah, mistakes happen. Now, what if a computer program could read these invoices for them? That's where OCR comes in. It can pull out important stuff like the invoice number, the date, payment-related values, TINs (Tax identification numbers), etc. But here's the thing: not all invoices are easy to read. Some are handwritten, not all of them are in the same format, and some are in different languages. So, picking the right OCR tool is important to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Several commercial options stand out, notably AWS Textract, Google Cloud Vision, and Azure Computer Vision. These services come from three major cloud providers and offer a blend of ease and functionality. They're user-friendly and can easily fit into your existing workflow. All three have robust APIs and SDKs, so you can use them in various programming environments,and integrate smoothly into existing workflows, often requiring just a few lines of code to get started. But they're not all the same.
While the core objective of these services—text extraction—is the same, it's worth noting that while they all aim to solve the same problem, some may outperform others depending on the specific challenges you're looking to address. Whether it's pricing or accuracy, each service has its strengths and weaknesses, which we will delve into in the following section.
Each of the three options has a similar price point, though Azure edges out as the most budget-friendly by a narrow margin. Therefore, it's crucial to understand the scale of your operations when making a selection, particularly if you're looking to optimise your consumption of resources
You should note that these costs are just for the basic OCR variants of these APIs, and each of the 3 solves other use cases that might be priced separately. For example, I really like Textract’s additional features like form and table analysis, but its important to consider that these specialised services cost more. It still makes sense if you need a ready black-box solution that is simple to integrate.
There is a lot of good material on which service performs better and for which use case Keep two things in mind: how accurate the service is and how off it can be when it makes a mistake. For this article, I looked at research by Curvestone. After you read this, you should check out their blog post. It's linked below and in the article, and it talks about how they figured out the accuracy of these services.
TL;DR while looking at these 3 services, Amazon Textract does a bit better with messy, scanned papers. It's good at figuring out the words and where they are on the page. But if your papers are clean and easy toread, all the services are pretty much the same. In such cases, considerations like the broader cloud platform offerings and cost structure should take precedence.
The "best" OCR service for you depends on what you're looking to do. Are you dealing with a lot of documents? What kind of documents are they?
Some Situations you may find yourself in:
Situation 1: High Volume and High Accuracy
Situation 2: High Volume and accuracy is not the main concern
I haven’t considered examples with low volume, but it's essential to note that the payoff from commercial OCR solutions reduces as the scale decreases. For smaller-scale tasks, there are numerous free open-source tools available. If your team possesses the skills and expertise, these tools can be a viable option. Options to check out include Tesseract, GOCR, and others.
The world of OCR is always evolving, thanks to advancements in tech like deep learning. So, keep an eyeout for updates that could make your chosen service even better.
If you’re still confused? Don't sweat it. Reach out for a free consultation on how to go about digitally transforming your operations. Doing things right from Day 1 is easier than you think it is.
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