The Evolution from OCR: It's Time for a Change

In the world of finance, change is constant. And just as the rotary phone gave way to smartphones and VHS tapes and CDs were replaced by online streaming, it's time for large organizations to upgrade from traditional OCR to a more intelligent way of interpreting and processing documents. Let's face it; it's time to embrace better technology.

The limitations of traditional OCR

OCR, which marked the beginning of invoice automation some 50 years ago, served its purpose by reducing manual data entry. It extracted text from images like paper or PDF invoices by matching characters to a database of letters and numbers. However, it fell short in eliminating manual tasks, leading to confirmations, corrections, and repetitive work that slowed down invoice processing. Moreover, it did not improve or learn.

Basware SmartPDF: the ultimate solution

Fast forward time and enter Basware SmartPDF, the ultimate solution for companies aiming to revolutionize their invoice ingestion process. Built specifically for optimal PDF-invoice ingestion, SmartPDF combines specific applications of AI - trained on over 20,000,000 invoices, all enhanced with machine learning. This unique solution addresses the limitations of traditional OCR.

In this chart, we break down some of the main differences between traditional OCR and modern AI solutions.

PDF invoice handling 

Traditional OCR

Modern AI


OCR serves as the foundational technology for extracting text data from documents and invoices. It recognizes and converts printed or typewritten text into machine-readable text with reasonable accuracy, albeit requiring some manual intervention.

AI, particularly machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), automates the handling of all types of PDF invoices, including handwritten text, significantly enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of data extraction. This minimizes the need for manual intervention.
Functionality OCR is utilized for capturing key information, such as invoice numbers, vendor names, dates, line items, and amounts. AI enables the training of models to identify patterns, context, and relationships within the extracted text data. For instance, it can recognize all invoice data and line items, validate data consistency, and detect anomalies. In cases where recognition confidence is not high, it suggests data choices and seeks user confirmation.
Benefit OCR digitizes the textual content of invoices for further processing, albeit with some manual intervention. AI substantially improves data extraction accuracy and speed, reduces errors, and adeptly handles variations in invoice formats and layouts, thereby minimizing the need for manual intervention.

A modern solution for invoice ingestion

The insightful report from Gartner®, "Market Guide for Accounts Payable Invoice Automation Solutions” highlights the limited effectiveness of OCR as a base digitization solution. It often requires substantial effort to maximize its value, making it less justifiable in today's landscape.

With Basware SmartPDF, finance leaders can finally bid farewell to the hassles of traditional OCR processes. Our AI-based solution automatically processes up to 92% of incoming invoices with 100% data accuracy. The rest 8%? AI efficiently handles and automates remaining exception invoices by learning from your feedback.

What about your suppliers?

Well, that’s another great thing. You don't need to disrupt your supplier relationships. Your suppliers don't have to sign up, use a portal, or make drastic process changes. All you need to do is set up one specific email address for your suppliers to send their PDF invoices. Supplier onboarding has never been easier – keeping your accounts payable team's processes smooth and hassle-free. No matter how mature e-invoicing markets you are working in, there will always remain some PDF-invoices – and you will want to automate them too, turning them into real e-invoices. It's like upgrading from a cassette tape to streaming limitless music with the touch of a screen.

It's time for a change, so let’s get started

Are you ready to unlock the power of intelligent invoice ingestion? Learn more about how Basware’s cutting-edge SmartPDF solution can transform your invoice ingestion process by downloading our ebook, "Beyond OCR: Unlocking the Power of AI to Revolutionize Invoice Ingestion" or watching our on-demand webinar “Moving Beyond Legacy Solutions: Welcome to the AI-Powered Financial Revolution.”

Or contact us to set up a call to learn more.

An expert in IT-marketing from the field to product marketing and local to global markets for 20+ years. As Senior Manager, Product Marketing for Basware, Anu communicates and positions the e-invoicing services portfolio to all our global markets. Coming from a highly digitized market area, Anu has seen paper invoices turn into e-invoices, both in business and personal, over the last 15 years.