How to Extract Data From PDF Documents for Business
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
The Portable Document Format (PDF) became one of the most popular digital formats for business documents. Many organisations use PDFs for holding contracts, reports, invoices, POs, receipts, claims, rebates, and other documents.
It is getting more important to extract information from PDF files uploaded to business systems. For instance, companies need carefully extract information from sales or medical PDF files to organise sales analysis or medical invoice processing. Such tasks could perform one of many appearing PDF data extraction tools for business.
Considering the Allied Market Research report, the global data extraction market was valued at $ 2.14 billion in 2019, and is predicted to reach $ 4.90 billion by 2027.
In this publication, we overview PDF data, a PDF extraction process, technologies and software that help in such work. This article could be useful for small and medium businesses whose chiefs are interested in document processing automation.
Organisations of different sizes, whether they are small boutique companies or large corporations, have experience working with all document formats. The most widespread digital format for business documents is the Portable Document Format (PDF). Companies save contracts, reports, invoices, receipts, claims, and other documents in this format. PDF files are secure digital documents that provide reliable, quick, and easy sending of files from one company to another.
Despite PDF advantages, there is also a downside to this format. Information often occurs locked inside a digital PDF file. PDF data is not editable and needs a PDF data extraction process. This work is similar to how we extract data from physical documents.
Basically, PDF files represent scanned or photographed images of a document. Occasionally, companies can create documents with the help of digital word processing or spreadsheet software and then convert them into PDFs. People less often share document scans printed and filled by hand.
Every person once opened a PDF file and noticed that it was impossible to copy and paste text from a PDF into another file format. Sometimes PDF file extraction is not an easy process. Large companies ought to find an efficient and accurate way to extract PDF data. For example, extraction technologies can export this data for them.
You can choose between different ways of PDF data extraction for business:
The first one is the manual method. You have to hire employees or an outsourced company. Then they read and retype information from PDFs into another format manually. Unfortunately, this method takes a lot of time, does not fit thousands of documents, and sometimes brings errors in a process.
The second way is to use PDF data extractors. These tools help make an extraction process more automotive and comfortable for employees. However, they are not suited for massive data.
The third is to extract data programmatically by hiring programmers and writing special scripts for an extraction process. This way is more effective and accurate for business.
The fourth is to use an intelligent document processing platform like Graip.ai. It can provide end-to-end data extraction automatically and securely, including PDF table extraction. The platform works with massive data. Also, it shows ROI in the first week of use.
PDF data extractor
This tool helps companies to extract PDF data in a more automotive way. A PDF data extractor reads and types out information. There are different variants of these tools that work differently. You can use a PDF data extractor for free or buy a professional version with more functions and features.
PDF extractors exist as software, web-based online solutions, and mobile applications. They usually convert PDFs to Excel (XLS or XLSX) or CSV formats and accurately provide tables. Also, it is popular to convert PDFs into an XML format.
The steps of PDF extractors work are the following: they digitally scan a PDF file, extract data from it, and display the extracted data in code. For example, the Adobe PDF data extractor reads data and converts it from PDF to a JSON file.
A PDF data extractor, also called a PDF scarper, can be used for invoices, receipts, passports, and other business documents.
However, PDF extractors cannot handle thousands of documents. Massive data extraction is not possible with these tools. Your employees have to process PDF data extraction for every document.
PDF data extraction by programming
Sometimes small companies do not need to process many business documents. Also, they are not ready to use fully equipped automated platforms. Such companies can be interested in using programming for text extraction. This method is less effective for PDF data extraction in large companies, but you should not ignore it.
There are two variants for PDF text extraction by programming:
One option is to use the most popular programming language for data extraction called Python. There are many sources with tutorials on data extraction from PDF to Excel using this language. This process needs a basic understanding of the Python programming language and is useful when your office works on Microsoft Excel.
Another option is to apply the Microsoft programming language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). There are tutorials for data extraction from PDF to Excel by VBA. Also, you can use the PowerShell tool from Microsoft. It is the easiest way to extract tables from PDF to Excel programmatically.
Some companies need extraction technologies not for the data conversion into code or another format. They are interested in getting information from a document to correct fields of business systems. Data taken programmatically can be helpful, but you cannot compare it with accurate data extraction by automated platforms.
Automated PDF data extraction
Automated extraction is the most professional way of extracting data from PDFs. It makes the whole process of data extraction and importation into a business system. Automated software is credible, secure, efficient, fast, scalable, and competitively priced. It can manage scanned documents as accurately as native PDFs.
In comparison, other tools help only to extract data from PDF into another format. Then you have to put data manually into business systems. Previous tools only speed up one part of the document processing, leaving another for a human.
Automated software provides PDF data extraction and importation into correct fields of a business system with no need for active human involvement. For instance, the Graip.ai platform can recognize documents, process data, and transmit it into target fields of systems like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Sales Force.
Automated PDF data extraction applies a combination of AI, ML/DL, OCR, RPA, pattern recognition, text recognition, and other technologies for the most accurate and fast work. You can read more about OCR tools in our detailed publication.
Commonly, advanced extraction software is based on artificial intelligence (AI). It can apply machine and deep learning technologies for constant extraction improvement. It helps to learn how and where to extract PDF data and put it into unique business systems. As a result, all information from documents is extracted automatically and accurately.
Also, there are pre-trained extractors that can manage specific types of documents. Beside them, it is possible even to build custom AI models for data extraction from different types of documents.
Automated PDF data extraction software
Automated software is an effective and comprehensive solution that can improve all parts of PDF data extraction. It uses AI for autonomous self-development and minimisation of human resources in a data entry process. The next generation of automation software is called Intelligent Document Processing (IDP). It combines AI and other top technologies to extract data from unstructured documents like invoices, receipts, and claims. IDP can capture, export, and process data from different document formats.
More simple tools are focused only on reading a PDF file and extracting the raw data into a programming language. IDP uses AI to export information directly into a business system used for document processing by a company. It can extract data from multiple PDFs to a requested format without troubles. IDP makes extracted data immediately available and actionable when and where needed.
We highly recommend purchasable extraction software like Graip.ai. It works as an AI assistant creating structured and usable data from various documents. Graip.ai combines the power of self-learning Artificial Intelligence and rules-based Robotic Process Automation.
The most valuable function of this IDP platform is automating the whole business document process, not only extraction. Also, there are different products for every department. For example, you can apply the Sales Request Automation tool for a sales department or Invoice Automation for a finance department. As a result, companies can focus on making sales and development instead of retyping data. You can try all functions of the automated extraction Graip.ai platform with a trial version that provides processing of up to 100 documents per 1 month.
Considering company size or business needs, you can choose among many variable types of PDF data extraction. Organisations that do not work with thousands of documents and need only to export and import data from PDF to another format can apply PDF data extractors. To make data extraction more automated, companies can do it by programming. But some businesses need not only to convert data into code or another format. They have to export information from a PDF document and import it to correct fields of business systems. In this case, companies can use automated PDF data software based on artificial intelligence technology.