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What is Data Capture? [A Complete Guide]

Miranda Hartley
October 27, 2023

Data capture, also referred to as data extraction or data scraping, refers to the identification and collection of specified data points. Data capture tools deploy algorithms to ‘read’ PDFs or images, swiftly organising data into usable formats. In this article, we’ll explore the different commercially available methods of data capture.

How to capture data: 3 different methods

There are three main methods of data capture: manual, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and AI-powered data capture.

Manual data capture

Manual data capture refers to individuals manually recording information, such as typing it into a computer or inputting it into a data collection system. Research has suggested that humans make 1 error per 100 data points - or a 1% error rate. The most common error is adding digits onto figures. Therefore, a tiny error from a bored employee can unlock massive consequences for an organisation.

OCR data capture technology

Since its invention in the early twentieth century, OCR technology has provided a mainstream solution for data entry. OCR software converts images into machine-readable text, enabling it to be stored, edited or searched. OCR is often deployed in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in workflows involving the digitisation of text.

Due to its long history in enterprise settings, businesses often consider data extraction technology like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) a safe’ option for data capture. Though a viable option for documents with standardised formats (like cheques or ‘bubble’ tests), OCR generally struggles to extract unstructured data or information trapped in complex documents. Evolution AI’s founders were inspired to create our data extraction software from frustrations with OCR technology.

AI data capture technology 

AI data capture - also known as intelligent data extraction - deploys advanced AI to understand and extract relevant data points from text. AI data capture is a form of generative AI: a new technique that has risen to the fore in the last few years. Generative AI has transformed AI data capture, making it the method of choice for business looking for fast, accurate analytics.

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Though manual data capture is a popular option for small businesses or certain types of highly secure data, data capture technology is an increasingly ubiquitous technology. According to Polaris, OCR and intelligent document processing technology combined were worth nearly $13 billion in 2022, which is projected to increase to $55.62 by 2032. Automated data capture isn’t a trend - it’s a necessary investment for businesses of all sizes.

Is data capture technology reliable?

Data capture technology must be flexible and resilient, adapting to various changes and vendor updates with minimal disruption. Examples of such changes include accommodating different output formats (e.g., from JSON to Excel) and changes in the tempo of uploads. Moreover, updates in the vendor’s technology should minimally disrupt customer output.

In terms of flexibility, AI data capture is a great option, as the software can effectively identify missing or inaccurate data. For instance, our tool includes a confidence score predicting data accuracy.

Of course, reliability isn’t the only factor to consider when evaluating a data capture solution.

How to identify the best data capture technology

1. Speed

The time to capture information from one document will vary from vendor to vendor, with the fastest data capture technologies taking a few seconds.

2. Accuracy

Depending on the development of the technology, speed can sometimes compromise the accuracy of the captured data. Before meeting with a vendor, determine whether speed or accuracy is most important to your business’s processes.

3. Cost

Different vendors will offer pricing options. Two common pricing options include paying for a subscription or paying per page. Finding a vendor that provides transparent pricing is critical to ensure your data extraction project stays within budget.

4. Specialisation

Each data capture service will offer a different service package. Some providers specialise in contracts; others in healthcare documents or marketing data. Evolution AI specialises in financial documents.

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Navigating data extraction options can be time-consuming and tedious. That’s why we’ve streamlined the core considerations of finding a data capture specialist into an easy-to-use IDP Buyer's Guide.

 

Ready to try Evolution AI’s data capture solution?

Evolution AI offers sophisticated technology with unparalleled customer service. To discuss how intelligent data capture technology can save your firm time and costs, book a demo or contact our team at hello@evolution.ai.

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