What is Data Capture and How to Use It?

Data capture is a technology designed to extract data from physical sources (analog data), converting it into useful digital information (digital data).

Published on
November 9, 2021

As technological advances continue to swarm the consumer market daily, many businesses and corporations have found ways to improve efficiency. Using different technologies, the efforts to increase workflow efficiency have been successful, allowing businesses to focus on more hands-on things. Data Capture technology can do the same for your business.

With Data Capture technology, you can save your company time, money, and human resources owing to its automated operation. This technology facilitates the extraction, classification, and validation of various data types for easier management and access. However, to get the most out of Data Capture, you must first grasp what it does and how it works.

What is Data Capture?

Data capture is a technology designed to extract data from physical sources (analog data), converting it into useful digital information (digital data). The technology works for any type of document, structured or unstructured, and data capture technology allows you to pull data from almost any document.

You can extract data from pdf, extract data from image files, or extract data from physical files, to mention a few. Once it extracts the data, data capture technology automatically transforms and arranges it into more readable and useful information stored as a digital file. The Data Capture technology typically works on documents including invoices, receipts, bank statements, contracts & agreements, and even HR forms and applications.

Methods of Data Capture

The data capture automation uses multiple methods to help the data extraction process much easier. You can opt to extract data manually or automatically. Furthermore, you can acquire data using technology employing a variety of solutions available to your company. Here are a few of the most common ways to do so.

Manual Data Capture

As the title suggests, manual data capture involves the process of manually inputting data from a document or form into a computer. Due to this manual nature, this process highly depends on human input and attention. However, it can be time-consuming. So, it only works for small businesses or businesses that do not handle high volumes of information.

Automated Data Capture

Automated data capture, on the other hand, allows you to capture data and transform it into digital data automatically. You do not have to type in the data manually. Instead, you can use a series of technologies to do so. This data capture type offers better efficiency as it reduces time spent, labor needed and costs. Here are some of the common methods used for data capture automation:

  • OCR: Also known as optical character recognition technology, OCR works by extracting files from PDF, image formats, and other scanned document formats. It extracts data by identifying machine-generated characters and typefaces. This type of technology typically works for the healthcare and finance industry, where large volumes of data are usually processed.
  • ICR: The intelligent character recognition technology allows fonts and handwritten characters to be learned by a computer during processing to improve accuracy, and converts them into readable digital data. Financial institutions use ICR to capture numerous client and in-house data.
  • IDR: Intelligent document recognition technology uses AI along with other popular technology such as OCR or computer vision to detect patterns, compare them against lookup databases for accuracy, and transform the data into meaningful digital information. This type of automated data capture works for a wide-range of applications including mailrooms and invoice processing.

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Other Data Capture Methods

You can find other types of data capture methods on the market. Different ways are employed to cater to various industry needs. For example, barcodes and QR codes are typically used for automated data capture in the retail and service industry. This helps automate processes such as inventory tracking and management, finances, and managing employee data. Other methods include:

  • Optical mark reading: Referred to as OMR, it identifies darkened fields or checkboxes in a document and captures the responses. It is useful for survey forms, ballots, and specific objective-based documents.
  • Digital forms and signatures: This involve gathering data or authorizations from particular people without the need for physical documents. The audience fills out the forms while the AI collects data from every form and compiles it for you.
  • Web scraping: web scraping offers a smooth and efficient way to gather information online. This process would not have been otherwise painstaking for humans and somewhat impossible. The data capture automation method uses web bots or crawlers to search and collect relevant information on the internet. It works great for data such as forex, stock market, and weather forecasts.
  • Magnetic stripe cards: Magnetic stripe cards are typically used for hotel room access, security cards, or credit/debit cards. The cards integrated encoded data housed on the magnetic stripes and can be accessed using specific reader devices.
  • Smart cards: almost similar to magnetic stripe cards, smart cards store encrypted information on a microprocessor chip and can only be accessed using a special reader. Many businesses and corporations use this technology for employee identification cards and even chip-based smart debit cards.
  • Magnetic ink character recognition: MICR is typically used in sensitive documents such as bank checks, and it accesses data by decoding data in magnetic ink printed machine characters. You need a MICR reader to identify the unique data on such documents.
  • Voice capture: Data capture does not only involve text and image capture; you can also find technologies that allow for voice-based data capture. Good examples of such tools include Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana.  
  • Video/image capture: Video and image capture are also used by many businesses and corporations. However, this method is primarily used for security purposes, including biometric identification, surveillance, and theft prevention.

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Advantages of Automated Data Capture

Even with its challenges, data capture technology brings numerous benefits to any business or corporation. No doubt, automated data capture saves time, cost, and labor. However, this is not all it does for your business. Other advantages of automated data capture include;

Lower Risks of Errors

Although errors are still reported to be a challenge in data capture; however, the risks are not as high. Compared to manual human data capture, automated data capture follows a special sequence overseen by AI. Thus, the risks of frequent errors are significantly mitigated.

Efficient Data Storage

Automated data storage automatically extracts data and safely stores it digitally. With volumes of data and information to store, corporations can finally enjoy a safer and more practical way to store and manage data. No more rooms filled with dusty old files!

Digitized data storage also gives you instant and centralized access to any information you want. So, you do not have to visit one department after another to get approvals to get the smallest bits of information from dusty folders buried deep in other piles of folders.

Other advantages of automated data capture include:

  • 24/7 access to data from anywhere at any time
  • Takes unnecessarily workload off employees for a healthier office environment
  • Improved decision-making thanks to instant access to data
  • Easy integration with other software used in your business


Data capture technology stands out for its versatility, offering a solution for every business or corporation's need. Data capture technology simplifies the work process and ultimately improves productivity, which, in turn, yields better work results and boosts profit.

So, it's now time for you to boost your business efficiency and costs by investing in FormX. Used by countless public and private organizations, FormX offers a selection of tools to improve your workflows. FormX features an easy-to-use and fast API integration that shares data extraction in JSON format.

Amongst its prized features include universal pre-configured data extraction models (that work for pretty much any document type), user friendly, no-code web portal, and simplistic mobile phone scanning. You can try out FormX via its free trial, giving you access to your first 100 data extracted pages.

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Purchase Orders
Bank Statements
Contracts & Agreements
HR Forms & Applications
Shipping Orders & Delivery Notes
Loyalty Members Applications
Annual Reports
Business Certificates
Personnel Licenses
And much more!