From Capture to Smart Capture

In the age of Big Data, how can we manage the exponential number of documents that companies and public authorities receive? More compliance, more traceability and more communication mean more incoming documents. One thing has been clear for years now: we need to digitize them. But that is no longer enough. We need to process these documents and the information they contain more and more quickly, to transfer them from one department or person to another in a fluid and adaptable way. Smart capture is the entry point for all these documents.

From OCR to Automation

Capture technologies automate the extraction of information from various documents in order to distribute or classify it. Historically, capture consisted of scanning a paper document to create a PDF document, possibly with text recognition (OCR). This scanned document was then processed manually to be sent to the right person or department, or indexed manually, before finally being archived. The use of barcodes followed by document templates simplified processing but provided little flexibility. Even small changes in the layout meant that the document was no longer recognized, and the template then had to be redesigned. These are referred to as structured or even semi-structured documents.

However, there are ways to recognize a document and its data, and to automate its processing, without prior knowledge of its format or content. These are known as unstructured documents, and this is where smart capture comes into play, offering significant time savings and therefore a significant reduction in processing costs.

Reduced Costs and increased Agility

By extracting raw data from a document and automatically comparing it with reference data, smart capture turns this extracted data into information. The reference data can come from the company's ERP, a business application or any other data warehouse. It represents the company's reliable and up-to-date information. By comparing this structured information with the information read from the captured documents, it is easy to extract the right information, consolidated with the company's data. This makes it easy to automate the classification and distribution processes.

The most common example is the supplier invoice, which is recognized, analysed and automatically routed to the right person and department for approval. All invoice information is read and imported into the ERP system for posting. All this happens without any manual entry.


Another example is to let the software recognize the nature of each document in a fully automatic way. Whereas before an employee used to manually sort mail, now artificial intelligence automates this work. Intelligent capture makes it possible to process all of a company's incoming documents, whether in paper or electronic format. This is known as a multi-channel digital mailroom.

Scalable and adaptable

Current capture solutions are easily configurable and are part of the new low-code trend. It is now possible to configure complete solutions without using code or programming. Furthermore, the intelligent technology of capture systems adapts to changes and improves on a continuous basis thanks to advanced machine learning and self-learning algorithms. It is clear that smart capture solutions will be more and more in demand and will replace traditional scanning systems. This will change the role of human operators, but it will also result in the emergence of new activities and opportunities for companies. An exciting challenge.

In Summary

  • Multi-channel smart capture solutions process all incoming documents in a company or public authority.
  • They automate the recognition and forwarding of incoming documents to the right person or department.
  • They allow for better process monitoring and improve traceability and compliance.
  • They relieve employees of manual filing and data entry duties and thus reduce the cost of processing incoming documents.
  • In response to an ever more rapidly changing environment, they do not require any programming and are easily configurable.


 More about "Smart Capture" in the interview with Romain Rochat, Head Suisse Romande at Arcplace