September 2020SHARE
September 2020
SHARE

Summary

Around 90% of data within organizations is unstructured, and most of it is locked in documents or images. This information – if extracted, structured, contextualized, and made available on demand – could provide valuable insights for better business decisions. So, if these documents hold so much of value, what’s stopping businesses from using these insights? The logical approach is to digitize these documents and structure the unstructured data to unlock insights. But the current technology in the market has its own limitations. Read this article to know how your enterprise can get access to hidden insights from a document with an end-to-end document extraction, processing and comprehension AI solution.

Recently, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the largest banks in the US on-boarded additional 500 consultants. The reason, they needed the extra manpower to manually assess and approve PPP (Paycheck protection program) related loan applications in a 10-day frame. An investment and effort that could have been easily avoided with the application of intelligent technologies such as Computer Vision, NLP, ML etc.

Analysts suggest that over 70% of organizations still have paper-based process dependenciesi. Be it legal teams parsing contract pages, finance teams dealing with invoices, healthcare professionals dealing with patient data, clinical researchers sifting through R&D documentation, or procurement teams managing purchase orders, the burden of paper pushing is crippling business efficiency.

Not only that, there is a wealth of information lying untapped in images, PDF files, printouts, and emails. Around 90% of data within organizations is unstructured, and most of it is locked in documents or imagesii. This information – if extracted, structured, contextualized, and made available on demand – could provide valuable insights for better business decisions. And studies suggest that insights driven businesses can grow 8X times faster than the global GDPiii!

So, if these documents hold so much of value, what’s stopping businesses from using these insights?

The challenge of unlocking insights from unstructured documents

It is humanly impossible to extract, process and comprehend insights from unstructured documents due to the sheer volume of documentation that happens on a daily basis. Sifting through all this information manually would take time, reduce productivity, and increase the probability of inconsistencies. Manual efforts slow down the decision making and impact not only the time to market goods and services but also, hamper organizational productivity.

The logical approach is to digitize these documents and structure the unstructured data. This information can be critical in flagging off alerts or kicking of appropriate processes to achieve the desired outcome without manual intervention. However, that’s easier said than done. Document digitization technologies are faced with three key challenges:

Complex layouts, different templates, and elements such as tables, signatures, handwritten text, and non-textual content such as images and logos need technology that can extract from and process all these different formats and digitalize them accurately.

Each business has its specific document types ranging from waybills, loan applications, tax forms, invoices etc. and also a domain specific ontology. Any document digitalization tool needs to be able to understand this domain specific context.

Most solution approaches are disjointed as opposed to ensemble learning models and unable to efficiently solve the enterprise document problems.

Most solutions do not provide the capability of handling large volumes of documents. This inability to scale projects impedes speed defeating the purpose of utilizing technology.

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The need for an end-to-end document extraction, processing and comprehension solution

For enterprises looking at unlocking business insights from their document, the above challenges leave several questions behind:

  • How accurate is the information captured from the document?
  • What happens if document is scanned upside down or the image quality is poor? Can the information be cleaned up?
  • How will multiple types of documents with different templates in the same batch be processed?
  • Will the technology be able to understand everything that is being said and done in a document – sentiments, intent, implied information etc.?
  • Can the technology provide a summary of the information?
  • How do we address cross-document conflicts and duplications?
  • How do I consume the information unlocked from the document

Every business has unique document extraction, processing and comprehension needs that require suitable technology solutions. While building a solution in-house or leveraging open source technologies might sound doable, in our experience it’s not very efficient or cost effective. An end-to-end document extraction, processing and comprehension solution can take into account your specific business requirements and use cases based on type, volume, and multilingual nature of documents. An end-to-end solution can also offer proven ability in some of the critical success areas such as:

  • Accuracy of document ingestion, clean up, and preparation
  • Reliability of support for the languages that you operate in, and
  • Domain ontologies specific to your business
Most solutions available in the market do not address all aspects of document extraction and take complete ownership of this domain (Intelligent document extraction, processing and comprehension). The existing solutions can be clubbed into four categories – Document capture specialists (OCR, scanning etc.), Text Analytics generalists or natural language processing platforms, RPA platforms and Cloud based APIs.

What’s actually needed to solve this document conundrum is a combination of AI technologies that work together in tandem See Fig 1.

Fig 1: The building blocks of a document extraction, processing and comprehension solution

These would include:

Collect and ingest data from various sources.

Computer Vision technology for enhanced image enhancements such as skew correction, gray scaling, clean-ups and watermark removal for poor quality images

Ability to determine the difference between visual objects.
Ability to accurately and quickly process handwriting and handwritten documents.
Work with multiple document layouts and table types (bordered, borderless, nested) and handle page breaks with ease

Automated classification of document categories based on the document content or visual layout.

Ability to quickly stitch Modular and reusable solutions for enterprise functions which need domain expertise.

RPA and cognitive search capabilities for data consumption across business processes

Setting on the path to become an Insights driven enterprise

Extraction, processing, comprehension and consumption of information in documents is evolving. Enterprises are not looking at just digitization anymore and they are looking at insight driven consumption of that information. The need is for on-demand, contextual information that can transform business outcomes.

A one size fits all approach to document extraction, processing and comprehension does not apply in most enterprise scenarios. To successfully unlock business value from enterprise documents regardless of their complexity or domain specificity, a purpose-built document extraction, processing and comprehension platform like Nia DocAI is required.

With its advanced AI capabilities that use an ensemble of various Machine Learning and Deep Learning based techniques, flexible data management and analytics pipelines, Nia DocAI structures world’s complex multi-document data, makes it consumption ready to unlock the latent business value.

Simplifying unstructured complexity for business gains

In the aftermath of COVID-19, we will see accelerated digitization across the enterprise. Not leveraging insights contained in unstructured documents can impact your process efficiencies and put your business at a competitive disadvantage. Why waste 100’s of person-hours for work that can be done more accurately and efficiently by an AI engine? Why not give your employees a reprieve from repetitive manual tasks, and empower them for better decision making? Document extraction, processing and comprehension done right can help generate revenue opportunities, save costs, reduce compliance risks, improve operational efficiencies, and yield faster RoI. AI is integral to business success in the new normal, and the faster you adapt it, the farther you will be in business value creation.