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Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) as the Gateway to AI Success

Artificial intelligence is proving its worth in practical ways in response to the global shift to remote work. Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Index Report 2021 revealed a substantial increase in private investment in AI and greater maturity as an industry. Enterprises are looking to AI for help with managing massive workplace disruption, including intelligent document processing (IDP) and customer service agent augmentation technologies. 

AI is now well positioned to demonstrate its worth. For enterprises that intend to start new AI projects, the good news is that it’s not an all-at-once proposition. Smaller applications, like those mentioned above, can be the essential first steps. In particular, IDP can be a great entry point for organizations looking to start the AI journey in an actionable way.

Getting started

The adoption of some new technologies requires you to jump into the deep end of the pool from the outset – no warm-up, no wading in. But with AI and machine learning (ML) adoption, it really is a journey. You can try it out first with small, isolated projects, applying AI to one function at a time to see the results. It’s very much a crawl, walk, run approach. Unlike many transactional systems like ERP or CRM, AI/ML application deployment in the enterprise world is not a sudden, life-changing event. In fact, AI/ML should be adopted in a gradual manner to achieve the greatest success.

Enterprises sometimes have lofty ideas about what their AI initiatives will do for them, and that’s not unwarranted, but starting with a small, practical application can demonstrate AI’s usefulness without breaking the budget or taking years of effort. So, document processing may seem low on the priority list, but the reality is that it’s an important but often overlooked component of so many functions across the enterprise. It’s a small piece of the bigger picture, but a key one.

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IDP can be a comparatively easy place to start in terms of adopting automation and AI. For a business leader who wants to start applying automation and AI within their enterprise, it represents a relatively low-risk step.

 The benefits of Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)

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People thought the digital age would spawn the paperless office. While there is certainly less paper, there are not fewer documents. In fact, enterprises today generate and receive a mountain of documents, both digital and physical. These are often manually processed by humans, who enter the relevant data into application systems for storage and future retrieval purposes. This approach is time-consuming and prone to error. It relies entirely on human efforts to process documents, which can lead to long cycle times, reduced productivity, unwanted errors and increased costs. 

Clearly, improvements on this process are needed. IDP automates workflows through document capture, optical character recognition (OCR) and natural language processing (NLP). The premise behind IDP is to digitize the entire document processing workflow across business processes by eliminating the touchpoints that requires manual intervention. Doing away with this manual intervention not only reduces costs, but it also reduces errors and ultimately helps achieve greater productivity.

IDP is so useful because it uses AI to classify, capture and extract all data from documents entering the workflow. It then organizes the information based on business need. Once the data has been validated and verified, the system automatically exports it to downstream business applications. In today’s advanced IDP solutions, the entire process is powered by AI/ML algorithms to make business processes more resilient to disruptions and help mitigate risks. 

This differs from robotic process automation (RPA) because RPA doesn’t actually use AI, Instead, it is mostly rule-based and driven by a templates approach. It eliminates repetitive tasks but can’t provide the other benefits that IDP offers. 

Opening the door to automation

Being able to apply understanding and insight to integrated documents can be a huge differentiator for many other enterprise applications. A key to the success of AI in enterprise applications is whether you believe your AI is trustworthy. Trust can be built by verification and validation. IDP provides the opportunity to easily verify and validate whether AI is doing what it is supposed to be doing. This makes it easy for enterprises to adapt AI for other key business applications once trust has been established.

All of these points help to meet the goals of adopting AI to begin with: reducing time spent on manual tasks, saving money, reducing risk of human error and increasing productivity throughout the enterprise. 

The pivotal first step

For enterprises that adopt AI/ML, it’s a journey, not a destination. AI can be invaluable in helping resolve real business issues and recommend new products or services, for instance, but if it is improperly set up, it can quickly become an expensive failure. It makes sense, then, to start with smaller applications of AI and then slowly expand. 

That’s why IDP is a useful first project. Organizations get their feet wet by automating their document processing, and that success leads to an expansion of AI initiatives throughout the enterprise. IDP rapidly reveals the business value of AI and encourages decision-makers to expand AI adoption for additional business gains. 

 

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