Throwing Away Important Information?

By Don Dew posted 08-07-2012 16:35



Despite the adoption of tablets, smartphones, and other electronic means of data capture, paper forms remain the backbone of information gathering.  Yet, despite significant advancements in automated forms capture and processing, the majority of businesses are still not making the most of important information contained on even basic forms. 

While the majority of organizations do have a document capture process, most do not perform automated hand print or cursive character recognition of data on forms.  This was one recent finding from the study, “Forms Processing – user experiences of text and handwriting recognition”, which determined that most organizations forgo cost-saving automated recognition of handprint or cursive content in favor of manual entry, or simply don’t capture the data. The study, from Parascript and AIIM, can be downloaded at

Specific findings from the study highlight the opportunity for organizations to better capture content from forms.  According to the survey:

1.      In most organizations, hand-written fields are prevalent on a significant number of forms.  42% of respondents indicated they have hand-written data fields on half or more of their forms. In addition to being prevalent, these hand-written forms are also important to the efficiency of the business process. 40% of respondents say they are quite important; 20% say they play a key role.

2.      However, many organizations are not taking advantage of this information.  88% of respondents say they scan forms, but only 32% say they perform text recognition to automatically make that data readily available for use in their organizations. The majority of respondents (55%) report they scan images and manually re-key the data as part of their workflow.

3.      At the same time, survey participants estimate that they would achieve a considerable level of productivity savings if they were able to automate the recognition of hand-written text. The average estimate is a 34.8% improvement, with 36% of respondents expecting a 50% or greater improvement.

4.      The majority cite localized decision-making and difficulty in accommodating different types of form layouts as the main reason for not adopting forms scanning, followed by a lack of designated owner.

With so much potential for improvement, automating the recognition of hand-written text from forms could be huge. And technology improvements are making this easier to achieve, enabling the recognition of all types of content on mixed form-types with less setup. 

What benefits could most organizations achieve with this increased productivity?

What opportunities might your company, or its partners, be missing out on by forgoing this potential increase? 

Even as the industry evolves, paper forms are the foundation of information capture for many organizations, and will, likely, continue to play a role for many years to come. This often untapped source of information presents a big opportunity for organizations, resellers, OEMs, VARs, service providers, solutions integrators and others, and companies themselves, to better take advantage of information.

For more details on the survey findings, you can watch the webinar replay here

*Results quoted in this report were taken from a survey carried out between March 9 and March 29, 2012, with 324 responses from individual members of the AIIM community surveyed using a Web-based tool. Invitations to take the survey were sent via email to a selection of AIIM’s 70,000 registered individuals.  The research paper identifies trends, opportunities and recommendations in forms processing and enterprise content management.

Don Dew is with Parascript, online at

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