What is the Difference Between OCR and IDP?



Advancements in technology have transformed the way businesses process and manage information. Two such advancements include Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), both considerably enhancing the processing and extraction of data from documents.

This blog post distinguishes between these two transformative technologies, helping businesses make more informed decisions.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR is a technology that identifies and extracts text from different types of documents, such as scanned images or photos, and converts it into machine-readable text data. It offers a simple, straightforward solution to convert physical documents into a digitally accessible format.

Key advantages of OCR:

  • Reduced Manual Input: OCR eliminates the need for manual data entry, improving productivity and saving significant time.
  • Easy to Use: OCR’s simple implementation process reduces technical barriers and enables easy document digitization.

Major Drawbacks:

  • Low Complexity Handling: OCR is limited to text recognition without comprehending layout, formatting, or context.
  • Accuracy Issues: OCR’s accuracy diminishes in scenarios with poor scan quality or complex fonts.

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)

IDP is a more advanced approach, combining OCR capabilities with technologies like Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Natural Language Processing (NLP). IDP understands the document content, structure, and context, resulting in efficient data extraction.

Key Advantages of IDP:

  • Improved Accuracy: IDP surpasses OCR by accurately handling poor-quality scans, various handwritings, and complex fonts.
  • Flexible Formats: Whether it’s a PDF, Word, Excel, or picture, AWS Intelligent Document Processing can process diverse document formats with ease.
  • Smart Data Classification: IDP identifies and classifies data intelligently, offering a granular data extraction.
  • Scalability: It is competent to process a high volume of documents simultaneously, impacting the bottom line positively.

Major Drawback:

  • Higher Costs: Despite the higher initial costs, the elevated efficiency and resulting ROI make IDP a worthwhile investment.

Distinguishing Between OCR and IDP

The fundamental differences between OCR and IDP lie in:

  • Extent of Capabilities: OCR stops with text recognition, but IDP merges OCR with advanced technologies, including AI, ML, and NLP, enhancing data extraction efficacy.
  • Quality of Data Extraction: OCR accuracy is compromised with document complexity. However, IDP can handle this with finesse.
  • Automation Level: OCR requires manual validation due to its limitations, contrary to the high automation levels of IDP, thanks to its comprehensive understanding of document content.
  • Cost Consideration: OCR solutions might be more affordable but provide basic functionalities, while IDP’s advanced capabilities justify its higher initial investment with an attractive long-term ROI.

Making the Right Choice

The choice between OCR and IDP hinges on your business requirements. OCR is apt for simple text recognition tasks like digitizing texts from printed materials. In contrast, IDP becomes a more capable and adaptive choice if you anticipate dealing with intricate document types, diverse handwriting, or complex layouts.

Concluding Thoughts

Understanding the key distinctions between OCR and IDP aids in identifying the best option for your specific document automation needs. Although IDP solutions might imply higher upfront investment, the superior automation, comprehensive document understanding, and long-term gains make them well-equipped for more complex enterprise-level operations.