Data capture technologies are methods or systems used to collect, record, store, and digitize information from various sources. These technologies have evolved over time and continue to play a crucial role in data collection for businesses and organizations of all sizes. However, companies seem to view data capture either through a very narrow lens by focusing on one technology, e.g. OCR, or have a scattered approach by throwing disparate technologies at the capture process. Successful operations look at data capture in a more holistic view and apply solutions and technologies that take into account their vendors capabilities, the nature of the data being captured, and the sources of that data. Here are some different types of data capture technologies to consider as part of a “portfolio” of solutions to insure maximum efficiency and results in your financial back-office operation:
- Manual Data Entry:
- Benefits: Simple and cost-effective, suitable for small-scale data capture tasks.
- Drawbacks: Prone to human errors, time-consuming, and not suitable for large volumes of data.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR):
- Benefits: Converts printed or handwritten text into machine-readable data, useful for digitizing documents, forms, and invoices.
- Drawbacks: Accuracy can vary depending on the quality of the input and handwriting and the cost to audit and correct mistakes can be significant.
- Smart Forms (Web forms):
- Benefits: Vendor provided “real time” data, i.e., invoice data, vendor packet data, etc. Vendor provided data entry, vendor self-service lowers labor costs.
- Drawbacks: Limiting access to the forms to only authorized users. Accuracy of vendor supplier data.
- Vendor Portals:
- Benefits: 24×7 web based access for vendors to upload data files and documents. Self-service enabling technology and web forms reduces labor requirements.
- Drawbacks: Vendor push back from requirement to use portal.
- Machine Learning and AI-Based Data Capture:
- Benefits: Utilizes machine learning algorithms to extract and interpret data from unstructured sources, such as text and images.
- Drawbacks: Requires training and may not be suitable for all data types.
- EDI (Electronic Data Exchange):
- Benefits: EDI streamlines processes by automating data exchange, reducing manual data entry, and minimizing paper-based transactions. Since EDI eliminates the need for data entry, it reduces the risk of human errors. EDI enables real-time or near-real-time data exchange, allowing organizations to expedite supply chain processes, order fulfillment, and payment cycles.
- Drawbacks: Setting up an EDI system can be expensive, and protocols can be complex. Different organizations may use different EDI standards or versions, leading to interoperability challenges. Organizations relying on EDI are often dependent on the compliance of their trading partners. If a partner is not EDI-capable, manual processes may be required.
Each data capture technology has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and the choice of technology depends on the specific data collection requirements, vendor capabilities, quality and format of data being captured, budget constraints, and desired levels of accuracy and efficiency. Advances in technology continue to expand the possibilities for data capture, making it increasingly important in the modern data-driven world. The most important aspect of taking advantage of the right set of data capture technologies is to have a thorough understanding of the data, your vendors, your companies requirements, and the financial contribution you expect.
Contact ICG Consulting today to start a conversation on how ICG’s AI assisted data capture solutions can deliver immediate value to your financial back-office. ICG will assist you in evaluating your vendors, incoming documents, efficiency expectations and determining what technologies your capture “portfolio” might include. You can also request a demo of one our data capture or comprehensive cloud-hosted financial back-office solutions and see for yourself how your company can take advantage of the power of AI and ICG. For a quick view of ICG’s solutions view this short video.