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OCR and AI: the digital eyes for your mailroom

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Imagine if you could give your digital mailroom eyes that could read, understand and categorize information as well as your human ones could? It would open the door to a world where you won’t need to manually copy client data from paper or digital documents into the right fields in CRM, ERP or other software. Combine optical character recognition (OCR) with artificial intelligence and you can stop imagining. Read on as we dive deeper into this powerful combination.

Optical character recognition

When capturing client data, OCR is an invaluable tool. As the name suggests, it is able to recognize the characters in images. For instance, if you take a picture of a document or upload a digitized file to a tool, the technique recognizes the words ‘name’ or ‘bank account’. It then gives you those words in an editable text format which you can then select, copy, edit and more. Are you thinking ‘So I still need to CTRL-C, CTRL-V everything in the right fields?’. Then you’re right. If used on its own, this is where OCR’s usefulness ends. But add a splash of artificial intelligence and magic happens.

When OCR becomes intelligent

If you want your systems to read, understand and categorize data in documents, just OCR isn’t enough. To get true digital eyes, intelligent character recognition (ICR) – where you add AI to the mix – is necessary. First of all, AI can improve the recognition of OCR by making it possible to also ‘read’ handwriting, for example. Secondly, algorithms and machine learning (ML) are needed so that the computer can make sense of what OCR recognizes. With ML, your software knows whether recognized text is a first name or an address and can slot that information into the right fields. 

You can go even one step further – like we do at Docbyte – and use face or object recognition to also easily classify images that come into your mailroom.

Pattern recognition

Often enough, AI and machine learning is used to make sense of text. However, equally as often, it’s only possible after training ML models with countless of documents using the same template. If you change just one little thing, you have to retrain the entire algorithm or risk extracting the wrong data. For this reason, Docbyte uses pattern recognition algorithms that lets our extraction modules be template-independent. Instead of figuring out in what place and with which formatting information appears, it looks for patterns. For example, a bank account number in Belgium always starts with BE and two numbers. If OCR hands our algorithms a string of text starting with those characters, chances are it’s an account number. 

The advantages

We’ve hinted at some of the benefits your new ‘digital eyes’ can bring. So here they are clear as day:

  • Less repetitive tasks: with the computer taking care of adding client data to your IT systems, there’s no need to dedicate a part of your workforce to this boring, repetitive task.
  • Faster processes: AI can process and copy information much faster. Your processes will speed up significantly and your customer will be helped that much quicker.
  • Improved compliance: by letting the computer handle data extraction, you reduce the risk of human error. The quality and accuracy of your Know Your Customer (KYC) data will skyrocket and becomes traceable. All this improves your capabilities to comply to regulations.
  • A better bottom-line: with less administration and faster processes, a larger part of your workforce can help your clients quickly and better, improving customer satisfaction. Add a reduction in costs due to less paper and more efficiency, and your bottom-line will improve.


Do you want to know more about how OCR, AI and other intelligent data capture techniques can help your organization? Download our free white paper and learn all there is to know about it now.