One step closer to paperless invoicing

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paperless invoicing

Why OCR when the data is in front of you?

An interesting question, the likely answer is that you didn’t know such data existed.

Picture the outdated accounting department of the 90s - stacks of invoices piled on desks, the printer whirring continuously and huge filing cabinets at bursting point. If we asked the workers what they wanted to change, what would improve the problems within the department, what would they say? “A bigger filing cabinet”, “a more efficient printer/scanner”. It’s unlikely that anyone would have the foresight to suggest sending all invoices electronically for paperless invoicing, and processing without printing or scanning.

The paperless office has been promised for almost 20 years – but unfortunately it is yet to become a reality. 80% of all invoicing in the U.S. is still paper-based, so its clear something is wrong. It’s clear to me that the biggest obstacle to e-invoicing and e-document processing is getting suppliers to adopt. That is why I believe e-invoicing and e-document processing technology should be free for suppliers, easy to use and non-disruptive, as only then will suppliers move away from paper.

There is no doubt that the business and environmental impact of practices such as paper invoicing and paper purchase orders have rendered them unsustainable and hugely unproductive; and that e-invoicing and e-documents are a modern, innovative solution to the paper problem.

Optical character recognition (OCR) offers one way of enabling a computer to interpret a human-readable document and to extract data from it. Originally we had document scanning and archiving; then OCR technology allowed us to extract data from scanned images of structured and semi-structured documents. Capture evolved into intelligent capture with the introduction of so called ‘learning algorithms’, whilst vendors started to evaluate themselves and the competition in terms of recognition and straight through processing rates.

But is OCR still relevant today? Do we really need to OCR – and incur the mistakes that OCR makes - when the data is carried within most documents received into an organisation? As I said, it is highly likely answer is that you didn’t know such data existed. Even with various technological advances and fierce competition among industry leaders, scanning and OCR is – and will always be – a flawed approach to the conversion of 'human readable documents' into 'machine readable structures':

Read the full article at EBN Online.

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