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DocuWare accelerates AI strategy with natif.AI acquisition

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Document management and workflow automation solutions provider, DocuWare, has acquired German software startup,, to strengthen its artificial intelligence (AI) data extraction capabilities. offers AI-enabled intelligent Capture, advanced image recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) technologies.

The deal is yet another example of the blurring lines between the Capture & Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), intelligent automation and enterprise content management (ECM) spaces—with vendors trying to build platforms that enable end-to-end automation and straight-through processing.

David Malan, Sales Director for DocuWare in the UK, says that DocuWare has been on an expansion drive since the company was acquired by printing and scanning giant, Ricoh, in 2019. DocuWare last year acquired German digitization and workflow company, DocuScan, and has earmarked additional investment in its software.

DocuWare continues to operate as an independent business focusing on ECM, workflow and Capture software, with channel partners that include some of Ricoh’s traditional competitors, says Malan. AI innovation will be key to the future of all three strands of the DocuWare business, he adds. 

“ECM leaders worldwide are investing in AI,” says Malan. In tasks such as order processing work that that once took days or weeks can now be completed within hours or minutes through intelligent data capture. Both structured and unstructured documents can be rapidly processed and analysed.


One of DocuWare’s key differentiators is the inclusion of a Capture solution in its product, says Malan. Its Capture technology has evolved over the years from zonal OCR— which identifies text located in specific areas on a document or an image—to more advanced solutions that leverage machine learning to improve accuracy and flexible.

While this technology works well for structured data, it is not as powerful for extracting unstructured information. The natif-ai acquisition will bolster DocuWare’s capabilities in this regard, with technology for extracting data from various documents, including paper and handwritten documents. provides a service platform for document classification and data extraction, as well as research and development of high-performance AI models and advanced OCR technology through machine learning. These technologies enable improved accuracy in reading unstructured data and automatic data extraction from non-standard documents.

natif.AI features include handwriting recognition, automatic grouping, splitting, classification of documents, and extraction of metadata. Earlier OCR technologies were focused on applications such as reading invoices, says Malan. The intention for the future is to be able to support more use cases, such as order forms and contracts. will be wholly owned by DocuWare and will operate as an independent legal entity within the company. Even so, the acquisition is regarded as supportive to Ricoh’s evolution from a hardware company into a business solutions provider and digital transformation partner.

In the process automation domain, Ricoh supports customers with solutions that start with data capture and processing on edge devices  such as multifunction printers and scanners, as well as the management of document and workflow management applications, outsourcing services, and intelligence process automation.

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