Documents are an essential part of our daily lives, both at work and in our personal life. We rely on them to communicate, store information, and make decisions. However, the manual processing of documents can be time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue. Enter: Intelligent Document Processing (IDP).
What is intelligent document processing?
IDP is a set of technologies that automate the processing of documents, leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer vision to extract, interpret, classify, and transform information into actionable data.
It’s a way of…
- Extracting information
- Categorizing information
- Releasing that freshly classified data back into your business processes
One of the key advantages of IDP is its ability to handle a wide variety of unstructured document formats, like scanned images, PDFs, emails, and presentations.
This means that organizations can automate the processing of paper-based documents and digital documents alike, reducing the time and resources required to process them manually.
Another significant advantage of IDP is its ability to learn and improve over time. IDP algorithms become more accurate and efficient as the system processes more documents. The learning process continuously improves overall speed and accuracy.
How does intelligent document processing work?
IDP can be used to automate many types of document management processes such as the following:
- Employee Onboarding: IDP will take care of verifying, interpreting, and extracting the data from documents that are uploaded as part of an employee onboarding process, so you never have to worry about manually verifying attached documents.
- Account Opening: IDP will classify documents so that your agents do not have to waste valuable time manually verifying whether the correct documents have been uploaded as part of an account opening process.
- Contract Management: IDP can automatically scan repositories of contracts to understand termination dates, evaluate risk based on language used in the contract, determine if your company is complying with committed insurance premiums and so much more.
Here’s how it works: Imagine a company that has a process that receives financial statements from hundreds of companies each month and then needs to update risk calculations on each company. Perhaps this company offers this as a service to investors (its clients). Unfortunately, the companies they work with are not willing to perform the extra work to send their financials in a single standard format. Instead, they receive emails from some, excel sheets from others, and PDFs from the rest. The company needs to find very specific line items in the P&L and Balance sheet to run its calculations.
IDP can save this problem. As the documents are fed to the IDP, the IDP will intelligently learn to interpret the different formats. It does not matter if the line item that is needed is in a different location in each document. This is the problem with earlier-generation OCR solutions. They relied on exact coordinates to find data and hence were very brittle. IDP relies on artificial intelligence to learn and interpret documents.
Thanks to IDP, this company can now extract the right data from multiple different formats and then format this data as structured data into a new format that is more valuable to the company. All of this can be done in just a few minutes instead of the weeks of manual labor used previously.
The top benefits of IDP
Intelligent document processing is helping industries from banking to higher education improve control over their data. Industry analysts predict that the IDP market will explode from $1.1 billion this year to $5.2 billion by 2025. What benefits are IDP adopters enjoying most?
1. Increased accuracy and data consistency: IDP eliminates the risk of human error in interpreting documents manually and then transcribing data to other formats. It reduces the possibility of human error and greatly improves the accuracy and consistency of data, which is crucial for effective decision-making and risk management.
At the most basic level, it’s easier to ensure that all your documents are in order when they are stored electronically than when they’re stored on paper.
2. Improved productivity: IDP automates the manual process of reviewing unstructured data to extract meaningful information. This allows employees to engage in more valuable work which leads to increased productivity and efficiency. An added benefit? Improved job satisfaction for employees hungry for more meaningful responsibilities—a pro tip for cultivating a more engaged workforce.
3. Enhanced customer satisfaction: IDP reduces turnaround times in customer facing business processes where customer documents need to be reviewed. This review can now be done much more quickly and accurately. This can free up employees to focus on white-glove service vs. data entry. This improves customer satisfaction, as well as increases loyalty and repeat business.
4. More secure data: Configure to meet specific security requirements, ensuring that sensitive information is protected from unauthorized access. Besides being able to interpret and extract data, IDP can also mask sensitive information as part of its review so additional employees won’t have access to certain fields. This is especially important for organizations that handle sensitive personal information—like banking or healthcare.
5. Increased speed and scalability: Since IDP can process large volumes of documents using limited resources, it is infinitely scalable. Accommodate growth into new markets and expand the number of accounts you can take on without increasing their headcount.
6. Cost savings: By automating the time-consuming process of document processing, IDP can reduce the costs associated with manual data entry, such as labor, training, and equipment. Even more importantly, with worldwide labor shortages affecting many industries, this process can be done by AI instead of a worker.
7. Remain 100% compliant: IDP can improve regulatory compliance by creating more efficient and predictable business processes. This provides for better overall compliance with the following regulatory requirements:
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a new EU law that requires organizations to comply with specific standards when it comes to personal data management.
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requires healthcare providers, insurance companies, and other businesses dealing with sensitive medical information to protect it from unauthorized access.
- SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) applies specifically to publicly traded companies and dictates how they should manage their accounting practices.
- PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) sets security standards for merchants who accept credit cards online or over phone lines.
Experts predict that the amount of data flooding into your organization will double every 90 days. Businesses are using IDP to get ahead of big data’s inundation and make sure that this data is being used intelligently.
A peek at the tools and technologies of IDP
Here is a look at a few technologies that power the immense benefits of intelligent document processing.
Natural language processing
Once your document is transformed into a machine-readable format, IDP can use natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to analyze the text and identify key topics. NLP helps computers grasp content the way a human would, while giving them a hand with nuances like idioms and attitude tells. The text of your document can then be classified based on its content and its context.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
OCR is a handy technology that can strip characters, numbers, and words from a PDF or image. You may have seen this technology in action on your smartphone. Take a photo of a book page or the instruction sheet from a board game. With most newer phones, the text within the image becomes independently editable—you can copy and paste the words into a text message or Word Doc.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML)
Artificial intelligence and machine learning is at the core of IDP. IDP takes the output of OCR and then it interprets it by using language models to understand the documents. This understanding allows IDP to both classify the documents and find meaningful data to extract. Now every document whether it is an email, a PDF, an image, or a video can provide meaningful structured data that can be used to make decisions in business processes.
Intelligent Document Classification, Indexation, and Retrieval
IDP helps users find relevant documents for their business or projects by automatically classifying and tagging them based on their content, metadata, and more. The documents can then be stored in a document repository after being intelligently classified.
Now users can search for the following types of information:
- Relevance-based keyword searches: For example, “tax” will return all emails related to taxes. Even if the precise word “tax” is not mentioned.
- Relevance based on date range: For example, “emails about marketing campaigns from 2020-01-01 until now” will return all emails from 2020.
IDP opens up new ways to search your documents by doing a better job at classifying those documents by intelligently understanding their content.
IDP is revolutionizing the way we work with documents. By automating the time drains behind document processing, organizations can achieve greater efficiency and accuracy—amplifying our decisions with a new fount of insights. If you’re not already using IDP, it’s time to start exploring its many benefits and see how it can help your organization streamline document-related processes.