Introduction to Amazon Textract

Amazon Textract is an automatic text and data extraction service, designed to simplify and accelerate advanced data extraction processes. Built to harness the power of machine learning, Amazon Textract exceeds the capabilities of simple optical character recognition (OCR) software, identifying and extracting the contents of fields in forms as well as information stored in tables. With support for virtually all kinds of documents and forms, Amazon Textract offers a powerful solution to ease your data extraction workflows.

Solving an old problem

Documents of all types, including contracts, forms, agreements or others, are essential to the operations of any business as primary tools of record. The necessity of documents extends across all industries, from finance, insurance and law to real estate, education and medicine. With thousands of documents produced at companies and organizations every year, it becomes increasingly hard to keep track of data in an organized, easy to access fashion. Machine learning models allow Amazon Textract to bring powerful and highly accurate document processing, enabling features like search and discovery through indexing, compliance and control as well as business process automation.

Existing Data Extraction Methods

Data extraction and document processing is currently performed primarily in three ways – manual processing, optical character recognition and rules and template based extraction.

Manual Processing

One of the most common ways of processing data for organizations or companies that require limited data extraction, manual processing involves human effort to scan and work through each document. While this method is simple to start, it is plagued by many challenges such as variable outputs across different documents, inconsistent results across multiple processors, time inefficiency due to the need for multiple reviews and high expenses that accumulate based on the compensation of those processing the documents.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

OCR allows for accelerated data extraction that can also be cheaper than manual processing. This method however is drastically limited by its error prone workflow, compatibility with only simple documents and lack of organization in results that makes it very difficult to decipher extracted data and put it to action.

Rules and Template Based Extraction

Extracting data with predefined rules and templates can speed up the process dramatically while achieving a good amount of accuracy in processing documents that match the layouts of templates completely. In real practice however, documents tend to vary quite frequently, from things like the differences in scanning practice to input methods varying between physical writing to digital entry. Small variances between documents can completely throw off rules and templates based extraction systems due to their inability to recognize individual elements and relationships in documents being processed.

Comprehensive Document Processing with Machine Learning

All the methods of data extraction discussed above have their own sets of advantages that are coupled with unique limitations which reduce their viability as reliable document processing alternatives. Some prominent limitations seem to stem from an inability to intelligently identify and apply appropriate processing to content of different types such as form entries, table entries and stylized text extraction. Hence with these tools, accuracy requires slow manual extraction, whereas quick processing comes at the cost of inaccurate data with limited usability.

Amazon Textract utilizes machine learning to instantly process documents with accuracy, undeterred by variability in document formats or by the complexity of the data being processed. The machine learning models utilized, have been trained on millions of documents from across almost every industry, comprising of document types such as contracts, tax documents, sales orders, benefits applications, insurance claims and more. Such extensive training allows the models to be flexible across document types, removing the need to write and maintain code as layouts change. Furthermore, Amazon Textract performs these tasks instantaneously without the cost of accuracy due to its ability to intelligently recognize tables, form field content and relationships between the data in these more complex entry formats.

Intelligent structured data extraction also allows for some highly utilitous features. Once data is procured, it can be indexed in Amazon Elasticsearch so that you can search for specific data from thousands of documents quickly. Extracted data can also be used by Amazon Textract to automate form processing without human intervention – allowing processes like loan approval by banks to be initiated without requiring manual review.

In addition to all of this, Amazon Textract provides processing and extraction services at very low cost. There are no upfront commitments or long term contracts and you pay for only the capacity that you use.

Amazon Textract is a powerful service designed to ease and accelerate data extraction – one of the most fundamental processes for any business. If you’d like to learn more about Amazon Textract and see specific examples of how it can prove to be significantly more useful than other data extraction methods, watch our webinar on Getting Started with Amazon Textract.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with our team to learn how we can help you leverage Amazon Textract to accelerate and ease your data extraction workflow.

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