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-OCR is at the heart of everything from handwriting analysis programs to the gigantic mail-sorting machines that ensure all those millions of letters reach their destinations. How exactly does it work?-

Computers typically get things their way when it comes to working with humans. For them to understand us and do what we want them too, we have to resort to “speaking” their language with things such as mice and keyboards. One innovation in the world of digital solutions has challenged the status-quo and is making computers work significantly harder to process more human-like information from paper printed health insurance policies to handwritten letters to pictures with text.

In the tech-centric world of mobile platforms there is seemingly a new revolutionary feature or technology every other day. Admittedly, some stand out from the rest – OCR has done just that. It has become an important and widely used technology across various industries. OCR or Optical Character Recognition is the conversion of written or printed text into machine encoded text. It allows for paper data records to be digitalised into electronic records that can be edited, searched, stored and shared more efficiently.

How Does OCR Work?

There are several techniques or methodologies utilized by OCR applications to reach a common end-goal. The technicalities and differences related to pattern recognition can be overwhelming and complex, but in general terms OCRs work more or less in one way. Typically, OCR will first analyse the structure of the image dividing the page into elements such as blocks of text, tables, images, etc.. Lines are then divided into words and finally into characters. Once individual characters have been singled out, OCR compares them against a set of pre-programmed pattern images. After processing a huge number of possibilities, OCR advances its hypotheses – presenting you with the recognized text.

How are Companies Using OCR?

OCR software’s usage extends far beyond what you initially think of. It is one of those technologies that the more you think about, the more benefits come to mind. Evidently, it is used to hasten data-entry processes, sort information in an organized manner, and save on time, space and paper. It is also used to allow you to search through large chunks of information without having to physically read it all. It allows you to edit documents using a word processor. It also allows you to compress large amounts of data and send it via email. By simplifying data collection, it can significantly reduce the time it takes a UAE employer to apply for UAE group health insurance.  Additionally, OCR coupled with a text-to-speech software can also allow blind people to interact with text by having it read to them – there is no shortage of benefits.

OCR in an HR Environment

Naturally, we can expect an inverse relationship between paper stacks and efficiency in the workplace. For one it becomes harder and harder to find or share information when it is locked up in paper format, especially when the paper piles up. Data locked up in paper format also costs us much more than we think. Labour costs included, companies would spend an average of AED 60,000 to fill a five-drawer filing cabinet with paper. Managing employee records and manual data-entry is known to take up approximately 50% of HR departments’ time – it is a slow, expensive, and tedious process which risks demotivating your employees. OCR drastically minimizes the data-entry processes in an HR environment by extracting information from relevant documents. For instance, Bayzat HR Software has incorporated OCR technology and allows employees to scan passports, emirates IDs, and other key documents and automatically extracts, stores and sorts this information within the platform – creating a centralized and cross-functional depot of information. From digitalizing UAE health insurance policies to using OCR technology on driver’s licenses, Bayzat Benefits allows HR specialists to spend time focusing on planning and implementing wider strategic objectives rather than on repetitive admin tasks.

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Brian Habibi