Time is money.
– Benjamin Franklin
Despite all of today’s technological advances, business performance won’t increase unless a greater value is created. Benjamin’s above quote, first published in George Fisher’s 1748 book, still holds today. Those competing in “data-rich” industries where considerable information is involved are well aware of the difference that time can make. A lender that approves new loans faster than the competition – provided sufficient risk assessment can be performed – will make more money and profit. This realization is now driving renewed investment in Intelligent Document Processing (IDP).
What is Intelligent Document Processing?
Document scanning or imaging is the process of converting paper documents into digital records. The sophistication of this process has improved significantly. Optical Character Recognition or OCR is a technology that can recognize text within a digital scanned document or image. This technology enables paper documents to be scanned and converted into a digital record with data that can be read, classified, and then acted upon.
The challenge is that the OCR process is not perfect – nor can it ever be on its own. Some characters will be misread, color contrasts may lead to incorrect translations, and other notations or content may get lost in translation. If your business requires converting paper documents into digital records, some of the processes can be automated, but the rest must be manually checked and validated.
When we refer to a process or concept as “Smart” or “Intelligent,” it means that additional data or knowledge has been applied to the process to extract conclusions or results that are more accurate. Artificial Intelligence or machine learning are two technologies that are increasingly being applied to document processing to improve the accuracy of data conversion. The application of this technology to document processing is referred to as Intelligent Document Processing.
Learn more about the difference between AI and ML here, Demystifying Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning
The big difference between OCR and IDP is that, at best, OCR will deliver a digital record reflecting words extracted from a paper document, which must then be manually reviewed with a 65-75 percent successful translation score. Over time, by leveraging Artificial Intelligence, Intelligent Document Processing can not only achieve a 90 percent or greater successful translation score, but it can also apply other digital “tags” to the data to help classify and categorize it for future next steps.
There are many possible use cases for Intelligent Document Processing, including:
- Loan Application Processing
- Insurance Claims Processing
- Invoice Review and Auditing
- Digital Document Archiving
- Identifying Fraud
- Contract Administration
How does It Work?
First, during the document scanning process, advanced computer vision and modeling programs can recognize document structures to identify features such as text, graphs, and pictures. This process, when added to traditional scanning applications, creates a digital version of the document that is now ready to be processed by the next machine reading process.
Natural Language Processing, a type of Artificial Intelligence, can then be applied to this digital file to identify, separate, and classify document components. For example, a title document that must be reviewed as part of a mortgage review and approval process might contain the property address, current lienholder, and tax identification numbers. The IDP process can parse out each of these data components, accurately categorize them, and then route this information to the next step in the review process before approving a mortgage loan application.
It should now be clear how industry-specific service providers can deliver significant value by accelerating the process that converts the data contained in documents into digital records that can be acted upon as part of an integrated business process.
Learn about Smart Data Extraction™, an Intelligent Data Processing service for the Real Estate and Title industries
What Are the Benefits?
There are many ways that businesses can benefit from the implementation of IDP. To start, many business processes can be done faster – reflecting on the idiom that time is money. Anytime a process can be done faster, benefits will be captured, including:
- Increased efficiency – with higher success rates in converting paper-based document data into a digital record, less time will be spent performing manual processes, letting the staff that were performing this activity do other, higher value-added activities
- Fewer errors – anytime it is possible to replace a manual, human-based process with an automated one, a benefit will be fewer errors, which means less time spent fixing the issues, providing credits to offset errors impacting customer satisfaction, as well as the possible brand degradation that could occur from too many errors that impact the overall experience of working with your company
- Greater business resilience – companies that respond faster to deliver a new service, adapt to a new law, or implement a process improvement will increase sales, gain competitive advantage, or minimize the possible impact from a new competitor to the market; the greater your investment in successfully automating your business, the greater resilience you will achieve
- Access to more business data for future expansion – it is well recognized that business and customer data has quickly become one of the most valuable assets a company can own; by investing in Intelligent Document Processing, you will have access to a higher volume of more accurate, industry-specific data; over time, this information can be a wealth of intelligence that can help drive future process improvement programs or new product launches
- Greater compliance and security – the improved reliance on automating data capture and processing – and doing so within a secure system and process that is not paper-based – will result in your ability to secure your customer’s data more successfully and better adhere to compliance regulations governing your industry; automated reports and alerts can be more readily set up to trigger any possible compliance or security issues quickly when done as part of an automated process
What should now be clear is that there is a reason why more businesses today are investing in digital technologies that accelerate the existing business process by automating how data is processed, categorized, and then acted upon. What is interesting is how over the past three centuries an incredible number of technological advances have occurred. Yet, the business philosophy so eloquently captured by Benjamin Franklin is still true today.