Businesses spend billions each year capturing transactional information and metadata. The e-commerce wave
promises to reduce some of these costs by turning transactions into automated electronic processes. Yet most
businesses are still exchanging paper documents. As a result, they still spend billions on data entry, filing,
searching for documents, copying, faxing and other forms of paper shuffling.
In the effort to automate paper-bound transactions, advanced document imaging systems represent a kind of
precursor to e-commerce. Once a document is captured as an electronic image, it becomes a searchable, shareable
resource that can be accessed from anywhere via the Web. Images can also be mined for their data in order to
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drive business transactions.
While early imaging applications relied on key-from-image techniques that were only a step or two ahead of
paper-based data entry, new and proven technologies are helping cut unnecessary labor from document imaging
A Midwest Utility
Character recognition technologies such as OCR and ICR have long been used to reduce manual data entry costs
in applications involving structured forms. Loan applications, tax forms and surveys are a few examples of
document types that have been successfully automated with minimal OCR/ICR validation required. These forms
have consistent layouts, enabling users to define fields in which particular types of information can be found.
Traditional forms processing technology works best, for example, if the “total amount” field consistently appears
in the bottom right hand corner of a document.
Consistent forms, however, represent only a part of the document volumes that many organizations have to
process. Invoices, for example, are often the lifeblood of transactions, yet they vary from vendor to vendor, so
they can’t be aut