Data Extraction Software: Don't Believe the Hype

by Tim McMullin | November 19, 2021

Contrary to what you've been told, data extraction software doesn't start with AI or machine learning that "just figures things out on it's own".

I've ran into this many times while to trying to figure out how to correctly set someone's expectations while we go through the sales process for data extraction software.

That's because people believe all the hype around AI and ML and automation.

intelligent-data-extractionOr worse. They believe something I was raised to know isn't true. They want something for nothing. That's what it all boils down to.

Don't get me wrong, I'm on the bad end of being a hopeless romantic. I root for the underdog, almost always. I love to hear an "overnight success" story.

But I know those stories don't tell us the whole truth. All we get to see is Michael Jordan winning championships. However, we don't see the thousands of hours he put in practicing. It's more romantic to believe that Michael was born to be a basketball player — that he was just a natural. That's a nice story.

database extraction software


Why it's Hard to Handle the Truth

We don't really like the truth, do we? It often can be scary, overwhelming and intimidating.

The truth is, I'm a little overweight, I'm past my prime, I've lost most of my hair...and the hair that's not lost is either inappropriately located or gray.

If you combine all of that, I'm (probably) not attractive physically anymore.

No, no one likes the real truth. But that doesn't change it. That doesn't make it less true. The same is true when it comes to many things in life, business software and technology certainly included.

Software Expectations vs Reality

So when I'm talking to a prospect, I'm trying to understand the business value of automating a process, and I hear things like: "So, it just learns as it goes, right?" or "Doesn't the software just figure it all out?"

pdf data extraction softwareAt that point, I have to take a breath or two. 

It's this pursuit of easy that's really a drain on all our lives. It's responsible for gambling, it's responsible for crime. I recently read that all crime is just someone wanting something for nothing.

So what does that say about someone asking a software vendor for the same? I'll tell you what, it's criminal that people's expectations are so out-of-alignment with reality. That attitude downplays how much work that people at data extraction software companies have done to make things "easy."

At that point, I have to let them know the truth about software in general, data extraction software included.

The Hard Truth About Data Extraction Software

What's the truth, then, you ask?

It's pretty simple, actually: Difficult problems are difficult to solve.  That's all I'm trying to say.

I just want people to understand that what we're doing is really difficult, and actually pretty amazing. For example, I can:

  • Extract data from really poor original documents
  • Correct that data
  • Reform it
  • And then do whatever I want with it
best-extraction-software

I'm sure it looks like I'm selling snake oil when I do a demo, but I've built those demos with real documents and real data from real customers. Meanwhile, the ones who are snake oil salesmen sold their stock and LEFT TOWN. Because they didn't want to be around when the truth hit.

Not us. We've been right here, in OKC for 36+ years. We have customers who have been using data extraction solutions from us for decades.

And when you sell software subscriptions, the software has to keep adding value, year after year. Otherwise, you lose the customer. Selling perpetual licenses was a lot easier, as that software didn't have to keep adding value.

That being the case, our data extraction software does have to add value constantly - and it is doing that.

database extraction software


3 Things that Make the Best Data Extraction Software

I talked to one of our best partners recently and had a heart-to-heart with him. I know he's experienced in this business. He's sold custom document automation solutions, and competitive solutions.

So I recently asked him "Why Grooper?" It came down to three things:

document extraction software1) GETTING HARD-TO-ACCESS DATA
First, we can get the difficult data such as:

  • Complicated tables
  • Tables that span more than one page
  • Tables that do not use grid lines
  • Data using odd or custom fonts
  • Check box information
  • Data trapped in paragraphs of text

As a matter of fact, we can get data that none of our competitors could even get.

We're getting data that Kofax, Captiva (Opentext), Ephesoft and others simply can't extract. For example, multi-page, multi-line, nested tables are no problem for Grooper.

data-extraction-programs2) GOOD OLD-FASHIONED SPEED
The second reason was speed. With Grooper, you have a few options for licensing. The most popular gives you a volume limit, but no user limitations.

This means you can meet your demanding customer SLAs without having to build and license a system that is ready for peak volumes all the time. 2,500 images a minute? We don't need a cloud infrastructure for that. Whether you want just a few servers, VM or bare metal, it's totally your choice.

data-extraction-from-documents3) RELIABILITY
But the partner's third reason hit the closest to home for me. Stability. I came out of technical support, and once you've done tech support, you never really leave it.

At previous companies, I've had to go on-site to calm the customers and keep them in the boat more times than I'd like to admit. All data extraction software has problems, and Grooper is no different.

But, it just doesn't quit on you.

Grooper-logo-smallFast, accurate and reliable — this, we can brag about. And I'd even do a "Pepsi Challenge" against any of our competitors to prove it. But it's not magic. It's the result of 36 years of experience and implementing systems and applied knowledge.

And even after all of that incredible technology we've created...it's still hard work.

Do You Have A Tough Data Extraction Project or Challenge?

So if you have a hard data problem, I'd like to talk to you. After all, we like big challenges. First, I'll ask you:

  1. What is it worth to your organization?
  2. Is there enough value?

This isn't archiving anymore - this is full-on automation. If it's possible, we can do it.

And if it's not possible? We'll even be honest enough to tell you the truth.

Watch Intelligent Data Extraction in Action

Learn from industry experts how data extraction works on business reports. Discover how to:

  • Use patterns to extract data from electronic documents
  • Extract data out of general ledger reports
  • Extract data out of tables, and tables that span more than one page

Watch the video now:

unstructured-data-extraction-tools-1

Watch the Video: "Data Extraction for Simple Reports"


What is Data Extraction Software?

what is data extraction softwareData extraction software is a solution that allows businesses to scrape data out of unstructured, poorly structured or structured data sources for processing and storage. The many different data sources includes but is not limited to: scanned PDF documents, electronic files such as emails, text files, and even data from websites.

By leveraging vastly more information than ever before, companies or government entities can use this extracted data to:

  • Improve analysis of internal operations and of third-party vendors or operators
  • Spot trends
  • Predict upcoming opportunities or problems
  • Generate leads
  • Cut costs and vastly decrease manual tasks

 

Which Features Should be Used to Compare Data Extraction Software?

In the information age, reducing costs and increasing revenue comes down to the ability to make quick decisions with the data available to you. So here are several key software features that a business should consider and pay attention to when purchasing a data extraction solution.

A Full-Featured Software

This first one is simple — stop paying to unlock more features!

A Software that Finds Data in a Document Like a Human Would

This one requires some explanation, as it requires some work (like we said earlier) to make it really work for unstructured data.

If you want this feature, make sure whatever data extraction software has user-assisted machine learning using algorithms such as TF/IDF. Tools such as paragraph detection and flow-based collation also help assist in simulating human-like reading.

Different Tools for Structured and Semi-Structured Data Extraction

When it comes to collecting or extracting data from structured or semi-structured documents to extract data from PDF or other files, a powerful data extraction software should include features like:

  • Fuzzy regular expression with simple patterns
  • Highly accurate OCR technology
  • Lexicons / dictionaries
  • Hierarchical data modeling
  • Natural language processing
  • Computer vision
  • Mathematical validation of extracted data
  • Table extraction
  • Spell correction
  • Update batches in progress


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