Modern IDP platforms can help to drive success, serving to simplify and automate manual processes and free up knowledge workers to do the more business-driven, creative work they do best.
Businesses in the modern world must contend with documentation in a dizzying array of formats—both physical and digital. At the same time, companies everywhere are under pressure to maximize the automation of business-centric processes to remain competitive. But despite billions invested in digital technologies, the mission to improve automation continues to be challenged by unstructured content. Thankfully, the advent of technology known as intelligent document processing (IDP) has made these challenges more manageable—but unlocking the full power of IDP is only possible if a business chooses the right IDP platform.
What is IDP?
Before exploring the key components of modern IDP, we must first understand exactly what IDP is and does. Useful across a range of fronts, IDP automates the digitization of unstructured information from sources such as scanned files, invoices, contracts, receipts, or emails into structured data and then extracts and interprets that data for processing.
By using technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing, IDP helps automate repetitive document processing tasks and workflows such as scanning, extracting, and categorizing information, streamlining otherwise manual processes like data entry and validation.
Self-teaching Data Extraction
One thing setting IDP apart from older OCR (optical character recognition)-only tools is its capacity to establish contextual links between information in a document—such as associating the section of a form marked “last name” with the handwriting underneath it.
Thanks to AI and machine learning algorithms, that functionality doesn’t have to be explicitly programmed in. With self-teaching data extraction powered by machine learning, IDP can adapt to changing document formats and layouts over time, ensuring that its ability to identify and extract data from documents is not tied to a specific format.
With self-teaching data extraction capabilities, businesses benefit from a solution that improves its accuracy and efficiency over time, consistently reducing the requirement for manual intervention when processing documents.
It’s all well and good extracting information from a document—but most use cases then require something to be done with that information. With process automation technology, the capture of a document—where unstructured information is transformed into structured data—is only the first step. Not only can information be automatically routed to whatever storage system it needs to go, but multiple operations can be performed on it along the way, such as document classification or data validation.
According to a McKinsey report, 40% of workers currently spend at least a quarter of their work week on repetitive tasks such as data collection and entry. With process automation ensuring that the next step in the chain post-digitization doesn’t have to be performed by a human, workers can reclaim their time.
The benefits of such technology scales with the size of the enterprise, but all businesses are able to reap the rewards of processing large volumes of documents more quickly—while simultaneously reducing the risk of errors from human involvement. That, in turn, leads to higher-quality data being disseminated through an organization.
See also: Quantum Natural Language Processing Deployed on BBC Archives
Unlimited Cloud Storage
The benefits of a cloud solution over on-site applications have been long since proven, which is why leveraging a cloud-based IDP solution is essential. One of the more underrated benefits of such an approach is unlimited cloud storage. By providing organizations with the ability to store and manage large volumes of data in the cloud, cloud IDP overcomes the problems inherent to wrestling with hefty physical storage solutions. Scaling businesses may deal with increasing volumes of documents, and an evolving need for more advanced document processing capabilities, at which point cloud-based technology is crucial.
There’s another benefit particularly useful to the modern world of hybrid work in which we now find ourselves: remote access. When documents processed by IDP are stored in the cloud, workers can benefit from remote access to data wherever they are while not compromising on security.
That doesn’t only benefit employees but the wider organization too. With users more readily able to access the documents they need, wherever they are, there are fewer roadblocks to document-heavy processes such as insurance claims processing or contract management. The result is greater efficiency, reduced processing times, and increased customer satisfaction across an organization.
It is only with the cloud, then, that IDP platforms can achieve the scalability necessary not only to accommodate growing volumes of data but also to support remote work and collaboration.
Because it is just one weapon in the wider document management arsenal, it’s vitally important that an IDP platform integrates as easily as possible with other business applications and legacy systems. By choosing an API-first IDP solution, organizations are able to modernize without having to immediately rip and replace their existing structures.
Consider a business that’s invested in a secure document storage solution such as Microsoft SharePoint and is looking to augment it with document capture features. Instead of going to the complex and expensive effort of implementing a whole new enterprise content management system, an API-first IDP solution can instead integrate directly with SharePoint to add capture and workflow capabilities while leveraging the power of SharePoint for secure document storage and management. The result is a fully-featured ECM solution in a fraction of the time.
Choosing the right IDP platform
When evaluating which IDP platforms to implement, organizations should look for solutions that combine all of these critical components. Of course, making such a potentially transformative decision also requires the consideration of factors beyond technological features, such as the scalability, security, and ease of use of the platform.
Then there’s the reputation of the vendor, particularly in terms of their experience and the kinds of customer support they have on offer. As IDP platforms are fairly complex pieces of technology performing mission-critical roles, it’s vital to have a partner that can quickly troubleshoot any issues as and when they arrive.
But the fact remains that any IDP platform worth its salt will combine the potentially transformative technologies of self-teaching data extraction, process automation, cloud access, and API integration. As such, modern IDP platforms can help to drive success in today’s digital landscape, serving to simplify and automate manual processes and free up knowledge workers to do the more business-driven, creative work they do best.