A Beginner’s Guide to Intelligent Document Processing (Ebook)
Director of Marketing
Data is pivotal to any organization in today’s world. The biggest challenge companies face today, despite having an abundance of data, is utilizing this data in a smart way that is most relevant to their document processing success. Handling this huge amount of inflowing data becomes challenging for the human workforce.
However, advancement in technology has made it possible today for computer trained algorithms to scan, read and understand digital and paper documents as humans do.
This technology, called Intelligent Data Processing or IDP, is gaining popularity in many fields.
What is IDP?
Intelligent data capture as the name suggests is the process of intelligently capturing specific data and streamlining document processing activities.
Regardless of what kind of document is to be processed, long-form or electronic, structured or unstructured, the goal of an IDP is to extract information.
Information is central to an organization’s workflow and it needs to be organized well. This is why data capture solutions are paramount to the organization’s success.
When a technology like IDP (Intelligent Data Processing) came into existence, it became discernable that adopting this technology would be a game changer for a lot of companies.
How does IDP work?
Ideally, there are two key points to be taken into consideration while deploying an IDP.
Firstly, we need to understand the kind of technology we would require to extract the required data from the document. This also depends on what kind of data we are looking at. Structured data would require less advanced technology. Unstructured and partially-structured data would require more sophisticated technology.
Secondly, there are various formats of inflowing data. An organization receives data in different formats like paper documents, faxes, emails and attachments, and MS Office files like word, excel, powerpoint, pdf etc. Also, this information could come from different locations and via different devices (desktops, laptops, smartphones). With this in mind, it becomes evident why organizations should employ an IDP and extract useful data. While it is true that organizations can benefit largely from integrating IDP into their workflow, cost-effectiveness is also a factor. And this can be achieved by outsourcing.
Companies can outsource their unstructured data to service providers and receive organized information which allows them to focus on more critical aspects of their business process and workflow.
Ideally, an Intelligent Data Processing system will be able to recognize, classify and extract distilled information and then route it to the required document workflows for review.
There are three key techniques that are applied to the workings of an IDP system:
The first step in the process is to classify what kind of document is being processed and also determining the beginning and the ending of the document. So one type of document can be an electronic document and the other one can be a paper one. This classification is done using the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology which is built using machine learning algorithms. The OCR software recognizes characters and symbols on a document, scans images and photographs and is trained in nearly 190 languages to interpret the data it scans from the document. Other recognition technologies that are in use are Barcode Recognition, ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) and OMR (Optical Mark Recognition).
Once the document is classified, the next and most significant step in the process is to extract valuable information from the document. Once information is gathered it is either entered into the required database or stored accordingly for future use.
Data extraction is powered by pattern matching tools like Regex (Regular Expressions). These tools identify specific data in the document and present them in an easily accessible, digital format. Applications such as an accounting system, ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) system, ECM(Enterprise Content Management) system and CRM(Customer Relationship Management) system would benefit largely by using such a technology.
The next step of the intelligent data processing would be to export the information and images to business processes or workflows automatically. This information is then available for immediate consumption and can be used by the organization to take quick actions and provide efficient service to its customers.
Use cases of Intelligent Document Processing
Numerous industries can benefit from a technology like IDP. Here is a rundown of some of the areas in which IDP can play a significant role in improving the efficiency of the organization.
Easy and quick access to data is intrinsic to any bank related job, be it the bank manager, loan officer or a customer support executive. That being said, the profitability of the bank is critical to its success and that success largely depends on customer retention and satisfaction.
Contrary to earlier days, banks today exercise less control while giving more access to the customer. Therefore, it is important that the customer experience is transparent, prompt, reliable and convenient. Since this is not possible by manual supervision of all processes, an automated workflow is made possible by deploying an IDP. This ensures that the data is captured in a structured format and only key data is extracted and stored in a secure database.
One of the most effective applications of IDP in banking is fraud detection, wherein a fraud detection system is set up to determine the authenticity of high volume transactions to check for any discrepancies.
Accounting is one area that generates quite a heavy amount of paperwork and documents. Earlier, documents like invoices, contracts, and receipts were mostly generated in the paper format and that gave way to inefficiency and low productivity. But now, with the help of IDP technology, we can train the software to automatically process the document and extract key information from the document.
For instance, in case of automated invoice processing and payroll documents, data from any source and in any format can be classified, extracted and integrated into the ERP system or the accounting system for that matter. What this does for the organization is that it shrinks the processing time, eliminates human error and lessens the processing costs by an average of four times that of the cost of using manual methods. Not just that, with accurate processing of data, the risks of late payments are considerably reduced and companies can capitalize and build their revenue.
Advances in technology have affected a vast array of industries including the insurance industry where the major concern lies with improving operational efficiency and providing best in the market customer experience in a highly competitive environment.
Since data collection has been the primal requirement of an insurance business process, manual data entry only decreases speed and increases costs. An IDP would be an ideal solution to automate the document processing, achieve consistent compliance, maintain security and provide customer satisfaction.
Mortgage lending firms deal with important documents such as loan applications, credit reports, legal documents, and verification material. Even smaller firms on an average generate up to five thousand pages per week in documentation. Managing and processing such a large volume of data manually merely exhausts the firm’s resources. Therefore, an Intelligent Data Processing (IDP) system can help the firm manage all forms of documents, ensures fast and easy retrieval of documents, increases the speed and scale of filing and help its customers avail faster and hassle-free solutions to their problems.
For instance, when a loan is to be reviewed and approved, a number of factors like personal information and other legal documents have to be taken into consideration. So, rather than manually handling the process, the documentation can be electronically scanned, files can be routed and personal data can be stored in a secure location with access to only authorized personnel.
HR is undoubtedly ruled by a vast deposit of data that overlooks the organization’s operations on a regular basis. There is employee data, recruitment data, career progression statistics, financial records, personal progress reviews, and training data to begin with.
The HR department collects so much data on a daily basis with respect to employee recruitment, on-boarding, termination, staff surveys etc that the analysis of this data becomes an insurmountable task for a manual workforce. But if the same large quantity of data were to be processed by an IDP, then the entire process becomes simplified. While it is evident that the issues relating to human resource are many, the most significant one of all is easy access to relevant data. Therefore, automated HR solutions that use IDP mitigate the risk of losing valuable information, time and employees. This also helps convert the gathered data into insights for the HR team to identify and make amends in areas that need them.
Moreover, automated data processing relies more on figures and numbers to come up with solutions rather than focusing on elements like employee culture and feedback.
Legal service providers deal with varied challenges every day, from archiving and auditing documents, mergers and acquisition-related documents, property filings and following compliance regulations to maintaining customer response times. Majority of these involve complex documentation at each stage. It is essential to maintain a system in place to manage these documents keeping in mind their significance and sensitive nature.
Apart from this, lawyers find themselves referring to volumes of information in the midst of working on a case. The paperwork for their client/s is often handled by an associate manually and hence is prone to discrepancies and errors. Employing an automated system that uses IDP to manage data and documentation maintains security and improves the quality of work. Some of the use cases of IDP in the legal business processes are :
- Digital Document Archiving
- Information Protection
- Fraud Detection
- Case Reviews
- Contract Administration
In the healthcare industry, maintaining records of patients is cardinal. Easy and on-demand access to information can be need of the hour in a given scenario and hence, digitization of all paperwork pertaining to patients becomes critical. This is where IDP becomes beneficial to manage a patient’s entire medical history and record.
Many hospitals still keep patient data in physical files and uncoordinated paper formats which have a tendency to get misplaced. So, when a doctor needs to access a particular file, it becomes a task to sift through all the paperwork in the files to find what they’re looking for. By using an IDP all records and medical diagnostics can be stored in one place and only related information can be accessed when required.
Multi-functional devices (MFDs) applications
The market for multifunctional devices or MFD’s is extremely competitive and companies need to consistently come up with unique ideas to stay on top. For instance, a printer is a multifunctional device because it can do scanning, printing, copying and sometimes emailing and faxing as well. It is a widely used device in every industry possible.
Companies in the business need to distinguish themselves by providing additional features or better quality of service. One of the ways to enhance the value of the MFD application is by integrating the MFD with IDP. Doing this will have two benefits: one is that the document will be filed in the right location, and secondly, because the document is filed correctly it is easily retrievable as well. Also, the data can not only be classified but also extracted easily in the application.
How would Intelligent Data Processing benefit your business?
Data is centric to every organization’s workflow because it facilitates the daily progress of business processes in the organization. There are various advantages of an IDP:
The advantage of automation of business processes is that it eliminates manual intervention in a document-centric workflow. With just one mouse click, data from a document is captured, converted, sorted, indexed and routed to its location so it can be stored in a structured format. This improves the overall efficiency and supports the organization to have effective operation through the daily workflow.
Companies that have adopted the IDP technology into their workflow have observed a significant change in processing time and decreased labor costs by up to thirty percent. Moreover, automated data processing enabled a large portion of work to be completed in a substantially shorter period of time, thereby saving operational costs that would have otherwise been expensive in case of manual labor.
The most obvious advantage of automated document processing is the speed with which vast volumes of data gets processed in less than half the amount of time it would take to do it manually. So if an employee typically needs a couple of minutes to review and index a document, the IDP system would be able to accomplish more than that in just microseconds.
Every organization aims at providing quality service to its clients and customers. IDP helps in improving the quality by ruling out any possibility of human error while processing documents. Apart from this, making relevant information available to the customer is also an equally important factor in maintaining quality. While done manually, information is always stored in an unstructured manner and is difficult to access quickly. But if the process is automated with IDP, then the information is organized in a secure location and is easily accessible as well.
It is more than evident that machines are more reliable than humans when it comes to repetitive tasks because humans have the tendency to lose focus and make mistakes, but machines do not get tired. In a data-driven workflow, classifying and extracting data and access to relevant information is critical to the organization’s success. Therefore, automated data processing has proven to be reliable while dealing with high volumes of data and its processing.
Intelligent Data Processing is a secure technology and maintains data privacy. More often than not, organizations contain data that is sensitive and it is of utmost importance to protect such data from being misused or manipulated. An IDP keeps the information safeguarded by storing it in a secure location accessible only by authorized personnel.
An IDP system enhances the performance substantially by automating manual labor tasks like data entry, document sorting, and information validation and minimizing the time required for processing these documents.
IDP is not specific to any particular process and it can be applied to multiple applications in multiple areas. It does not require any installation, it only serves as a platform for an integrated framework where documents of different formats, sizes, and sources can be scanned and processed. This feature of an IDP system makes it highly scalable and effective.
Unlike other complex technologies like AI, IDP technologies are designed in a way that makes it extremely viable to be integrated into the organization’s business applications and back-end systems. There are no installation costs involved, It is highly compatible and congenial to an organization’s requirements.
Data management has become the need of the hour and whether a company wants to reduce operational costs, increase customer loyalty and satisfaction or improve overall performance, it all boils down to how well the company handles its data. For an organization that wants to maintain control of its data and achieve these goals, the inception of technology like IDP into their business processes can help boost productivity.
Studies have shown that nearly eighty percent of a company’s information resources usually exist in the form of unstructured data. Evidently, over a period of time as the data piles up, it will become unmanageable and a lot of redundant data will be preserved. In this process, information that is important and useful gets trapped. To release this trapped data and use it effectively, we need to extract it from the documents.
Earlier, this kind of work would be done by manual labor. The paperwork required more and more employees and the work itself was time-consuming and tedious which gave way to errors and wasteful resources. Concern among organizations rose when a majority of the workforce had to be delegated to perform this kind of work which meant that they couldn’t utilize their people for the more demanding parts of the job. In addition to this, there was a lot of data being stored in an unorganized manner which caused a hindrance in the daily workflow.
Consequently, many enterprises emerged with solutions to better this situation and companies were able to outsource data to such entities. This benefitted the companies in two ways: firstly, they were able to reduce the staff required to manually process data. And secondly, the companies were able to assess more demanding areas of the workflow and redeploy the staff to work on those areas.
In situations where a company has data inflow from various locations and sources and in various formats, internally managing such a large voluminous amount of data can become difficult. On the other hand, outsourcing the same to intelligently process data saves time and improves overall performance.
To know more about how IDP can be integrated with your business, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org