The Document Paper Cure in Healthcare: IDP

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were approximately 130 million hospital visits in 2021 in the United States. While 43.5% of patients were seen within 15 minutes or less, far too many had to wait much longer to receive care. 

Although specific 2021 wait time data is not yet available, it is doubtful that hospitals did much to improve upon 2020 figures. Based on those numbers, millions of individuals had to wait two hours or more to see a provider. 

The question is, what is causing these abysmal wait times? 

While there may be several potential culprits, the document-intensive nature of the healthcare industry is at least partially to blame. Many hospitals' document management practices rely on tedious and time-consuming manual processing. This drives up wait times, diminishes the quality of care, and could potentially impact patient outcomes as well.

The good news is that Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) technologies can improve these long wait times for hospitals, care providers and most importantly, patients. IDP technology can rapidly process physical and electronic documents, structure data, conduct analysis and streamline every phase of providing healthcare. 

Mobilizing Data via IDP to Optimize Patient Care: Two Compelling Case Studies

Several studies have demonstrated the nexus between wait times and perceived quality of care. IDP solutions have the potential to significantly streamline wait times, thereby enhancing both the actual quality of care and the patient's perception of the experience. 

Here are three instances in which IDP technologies have been deployed for file management purposes in healthcare organizations.

1. Liverpool University Hospital Implements Digital Transformation Initiative

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital National Health Service (NHS) Trust are a part of a massive healthcare network known as the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Cumulatively, these entities serve over 750,000 patients annually. 

Naturally, an organization of this size processes significant amounts of electronic health records (EHRs) and other documents. The trust set out to achieve 100% paperless document processing before 2020 and leveraged IDP technologies to accomplish this goal.

The trust was able to implement the technologies in just three months. After implementation, the trust lowered data storage costs, reduced errors and gave providers easier access to pertinent patient records. 

By adopting these two integrated technologies, the NHS gained the ability to:

  • Send e-referrals
  • Support EHRs that are universally accessible
  • Streamline collaboration between providers
  • Enhance data management capabilities 

Cumulatively, these capabilities led to improved patient care and a streamlined service experience. 

2. Health Care Authority Saves $4.5 million by Customizing their IDP Solution

Washington State Health Care Authority generates a tremendous amount of paperwork and insurance forms from its many interactions with resident customers. Before optimizing these processes, they used to have six dedicated Kodak i5200 scanners and miscellaneous desktop scanners throughout the enterprise. Their multifunction peripheral (MFP) device fleet was 100% Ricoh equipment.

Their primary goals were to reduce paper handling, reduce indexing efforts and eliminate the dual entry of index values to other line of business applications. Ephesoft’s innovative solution with its patented machine learning capabilities was configured to learn the many different document types we have as well as populate fields, which make our lives easier,

After doing a direct comparison against competitors, Washington State Health Care Authority estimated that they would achieve a positive ROI in just six months and save $4.5 million over a five-year period. Additionally, the organization could reduce document preparation efforts by 50% and document indexing efforts by 75%.

3. Large Care Provider Improves Outcomes and Scales AP Capabilities 

A major U.S. healthcare provider serving more than seven million patients per year found its invoicing practices antiquated. On average, they process 1,500 to 2,000 invoices per month, but the invoices can range from one page to almost 200 pages, depending on the services.

Before implementing IDP solutions, the provider performed manual data entry, which was highly inefficient. To alleviate this, the provider attempted to deploy an off-the-rack solution but struggled with implementation.

Ultimately, the organization elected to adopt Ephesoft Transact. Once implemented, the technology drastically increased invoice processing speeds. Ephesoft was able to read any type or format of the invoice. This major healthcare provider no longer manually typed emails for approvals and confirmations. They could send PDFs directly into Ephesoft for processing. In turn, this reduced payment delays and decreased the frequency of denials. The provider saved countless hours each year, reduced the workload on its support staff and improved its cash flow.

IDP in Clinical and Non-Clinical Settings

Intelligent Document Processing solutions can be used for both clinical and non-clinical applications. The primary use cases apply in clinical and non-clinical spaces.

Clinical Applications

When implementing IDP solutions, most healthcare organizations begin by addressing inefficiencies at the initial point of care. 

Document processing in ambulatory environments is a significant pain point for every healthcare organization — especially those that provide emergency medical care. IDP technology can virtually eliminate the risk of data entry and indexing errors in these fast-paced environments.

Unfortunately, faxing remains a staple of most patient order transmission practices. While organizations may not be able to convince other entities within their networks to stop faxing orders, they can expedite document processing with IDP.

Groups of patient records are typically scanned or uploaded in batches. Organizations that sort and index these batches manually waste time and diminish patient care experience. IDP technologies can expedite this process, recognize various document types, classify, extract the necessary information, and export the data into an EHR or other line of business system. 

Non-Clinical Applications

The most apparent non-clinical application for IDP is processing invoices. IDP technology can rapidly process both paper and electronic invoices. 

This technology can structure data, extract relevant information and then classify it so it can be uploaded into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Adopting IDP for invoicing can improve cash flow stability and generate more revenue. 

While the accounting department will undoubtedly benefit from IDP technology, other non-clinical teams can as well. Human resources personnel are a prime example. 

HR staff is expected to manage contracts, employee files, resumes, applications and other vital documents. With IDP technology, the HR department can digitize all of these documents, eliminate the need for manual data entry and enhance the company's compliance with HIPAA and other relevant laws.  

Streamline File Management with IDP

Revolutionary intelligent document processing technologies hold the key to modernizing file management practices, increasing data usability and delivering better care in the fast-paced healthcare industry. 

As evidenced by the above applications, IDP technology is uniquely suited for the complexities of managing files in the healthcare space. If your organization would like to achieve measurable improvements in efficiency, agility and quality of care, schedule a demonstration of our intelligent document processing technology. 

Why is Intelligent Document Processing Used for Data Compliance?

Understanding Data Compliance

Data compliance ensures that sensitive digital assets or data is organized and managed in a way to help companies meet business rules, workflows and policies along with legal and governmental regulations. It is also critical to the privacy of people’s personal information and how organizations store and secure that sensitive data. An organization’s data fuels business processes, workflows, applications and ultimately decision-making and insights. 

Regulations around data compliance spell out what data needs to be protected, what processes are acceptable and what the penalties will be for failure to follow the rules. Data compliance ensures your business meets the minimum legal requirements. 

This often can be confused with data security, which covers all the processes and technologies of securing sensitive data, including firewalls, authentication and password protection protocols. Therefore, businesses must be data compliant per regulations, but that doesn’t guarantee their data is secure – although the goal should be to have both data compliance and data security. To achieve security and privacy, enterprises need data governance, which includes organizational policies and processes that control how data is managed in the organization.

The Landscape

With GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), HIPAA, PCI DSS, PII, anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) regulations – and many more globally, businesses must find a way to become and stay data compliant. The results can be crippling. 

How Data Compliance Fits in with IDP

In our current business world, documents are just a form of data that needs to be managed and governed.  Most organizations have massive document repositories that sit as dark data, and can be a massive compliance headache.

Intelligent document processing (IDP) is a solution that uses AI-based technology to capture, classify, extract, validate and export data from documents into another system. Modern IDP platforms transform documents with unstructured or semi-structured data into actionable, structured data that can be fed into other systems to automate workflows, centralize information, perform data analysis and business intelligence, as well as simply make a large volume of data easily searchable. 

Enabling accessible data is the crux of data compliance. A simple example is a person who no longer wants you to have their data, which could be in multiple applications and files. IDP offers an automated solution to make the data searchable so it can be deleted quickly and meet privacy requirements. Or, in one case study with Vopak, the world’s leading independent tank storage company, they used IDP and were able to reduce their audits from 2-3 weeks to only a few hours by eliminating manual data entry and searching. Alliance Bank used IDP to not only speed up the loan application process but they used it to increase fraud prevention and detection. 

IDP Benefits for Data Compliance

There are hundreds of use cases for intelligent document processing, depending on industry and business needs, from accounts payable, human resources, mailroom and applications to loans, insurance claims, financial documents, records and transcripts. Here’s how IDP can help as it relates to data compliance:

  • Can process large volumes of documents fast
  • Streamlines regulatory reporting
  • Connects with any RPA, analytics applications or any other system of record for more complete information
  • Eliminates human errors from manual data entry
  • Enables searchable data for easy removal of customer information if requested
  • Decreases audit times from weeks to hours
  • Can find documents in seconds
  • Drives employee productivity, accuracy and efficiency
  • Improves customer experience and satisfaction
  • Can be used for KYC or AML initiatives to reduce fraud and suspicious activity

The consequence of non-compliance can risk financial losses and fines, security breaches, license revocations, business disruptions, poor patient care, trust, brand perception and reputation. It’s easier than you think to add IDP into your tech stack and avoid the consequences.

Similar version to Document Manager Magazine's July/August 2022 issue on pages 8-9.

Everest Group PEAK Matrix badge

Everest Group Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) Products PEAK Matrix® 2022 Highlights Ephesoft as a Major Contender

Everest Group PEAK Matrix badgeEverest Group’s IDP report, released in May 2022, has recognized Ephesoft as a Major Contender in its evaluation of 36 vendors. The report evaluates a combination of market impact criteria along with product capabilities, vision, customer insights and more.

“Ephesoft has been positioned as a Major Contender on Everest Group’s Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2022. Its Transact solutions can process a wide variety of document formats and data types and offer advanced data validation capabilities. Its robust partner network, pre-built connectors for a range of enterprise applications, and the configurability of the platform, combined with its strong product roadmap positions it well for success,” said Ashwin Gopakumar, Practice Director, Everest Group.

We are especially proud to have received a 100% ranking in the “Value delivered” category. Customers using Ephesoft Transact found that we delivered on our technical capabilities and were getting excellent results. The report also points out Ephesoft’s high market share across industries, especially in Government/Public Sector, Manufacturing, Healthcare & Pharma and Hi Tech & Telecom. Everest Group also shows Ephesoft as a major vendor supporting Finance & Accounting as a major provider for business processes.

The IDP PEAK Matrix also notes the following strengths for Ephesoft:

  • A strong product roadmap for IDP with plans for adding advanced AI features
  • Processes a large variety of input document formats, including handwritten and multi-page documents
  • Clients highlighted the ability to customize the platform as a key strength
  • Advanced data validation capabilities
  • Large network of technology partners

“Ephesoft continues to be the best IDP platform designed to make System Integrators deliver the best value for our clients worldwide. With our latest release of Transact last month, we used state-of-the-art AI and machine learning as part of Semantik AI Engine™ to solve challenges that were not previously possible. Now, with new features like Universal Document Automation, Document Design Accelerator and enhanced handwriting capabilities, we have introduced ways to solve processing unknown document types, accelerated set-up and enhanced complex recognition and extraction methods,” noted Ike Kavas, founder and CEO at Ephesoft.

Other interesting research by Everest Group’s IDP State of the Market Report 2021 estimated the IDP market size to “be ~US$700-750 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a rate of 55-65% over the next year,” with the banking, insurance and healthcare industries to be the largest adopters of IDP solutions with SMBs showing the highest growth rate in adoption of IDP solutions. This growth prediction falls in line with what we’ve seen at Ephesoft with the majority of use cases still in finance and accounts payable departments.

For more information on how Ephesoft’s IDP platform can help grow your organization or why you should choose us, please contact us today or request a free trial

universal document automation blog

How Universal Document Automation Is Changing the Insurance Industry

The insurance industry has become more ambitious than ever before. Within minutes, modern consumers can obtain multiple policy quotes, query reviews from past clients and form opinions about the quality of service that a company will provide. 

According to recent statistics, consumers develop a first impression about a company in just a tenth of a second. Furthermore, a top analyst firm explains that the insurance industry must address specific patterns to keep up with their demanding audiences.

These patterns include: 

  • The majority of consumers demand seamless multi-channel experiences that can only be delivered via an omnichannel platform. 
  • Insurers can remove bottlenecks and common issues that plague insurance transactions, driving customer interactions that build loyalty and brand empowerment.
  • Insurers can improve customer engagement speed and quality if they are willing to tackle technology challenges such as lack of integration.

These three trends are unavoidable, and CX designers and data scientists must be aware of these when building effective CX strategies and supporting technical environments. Leadership must streamline front-facing services and back-office processes to differentiate themselves in this increasingly crowded market. By doing so, they can decrease the cost of providing service and optimize the customer experience. 

In a Deloitte Insights report, they add that insurers are becoming more reliant on new technologies and data sources to improve efficiency, cybersecurity and capabilities. However, they should also enhance the customer experience by automating processes and providing customized service. The most pragmatic way to improve operational efficiency for most insurance companies is to adopt universal document automation solutions.

What Is Universal Document Automation?

Universal document automation is a technology that falls under the umbrella of intelligent document processing (IDP). IDP solutions have been in existence for years. However, the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies have led to significant advancements in IDP software.

Machine learning and AI facilitated the creation of universal document automation technologies. These solutions can process unknown documents, automatically detect and extract critical data and compile this information to be leveraged for core business purposes. A top analyst and research firm found that AI allowed business value and task feasibility to integrate successfully in agent recommendation/support, autonomous underwriting, contract analysis, claims estimation, fraud detection and much more.

Universal document automation will be invaluable to insurance companies as they strive to remain competitive in this evolving industry.

Biggest Challenges Facing Insurance Companies

Insurance companies face several looming challenges that pose a significant threat to business continuity. The most notable of these challenges include:

Increased Competition

There was a time when a handful of national insurance companies dominated the market space. While the largest insurance companies still have more reach than their regional competitors, none currently possess a double-digit percentage of the market share.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm wrote the highest total value of premiums in 2021 and captured 8.9% of the total market share. The 10th ranked group only accounted for 2.5% of the total market share. These figures indicate that insurers compete for revenue in a highly divided market.

High Volume of Documents

Insurance companies must review and collect data from countless documents when processing claims. Many claim documents not only include unstructured data but images as well. As a result, reviewing documents is a labor-intensive process that can extend the claims resolution timetable.

Universal document automation can facilitate streamlined claims processing, and insurance companies can turn this pain point into an organizational strength. In turn, they can process claims faster and better serve their customers.

Evolving Customer Expectations

Changing client expectations represents one of the biggest challenges facing the insurance industry. Advances like overnight shipping and limitless access to information via smart devices have made customers accustomed to instant gratification.

While insurance claims cannot be processed instantly, universal document automation technologies will help insurers better meet the expectations of their customers. They can decrease the wait time for claims processing and rapidly disperse funds when appropriate.  

Why Universal Document Automation is the Solution

Universal document automation can remedy many of the competitive barriers facing today's insurance companies. By adopting universal document automation, insurers can:

Facilitate Error-Free Document Processing

Document processing errors create a cascade of consequences for insurance companies and their clients. When an error is made during document processing, the claim may not be resolved on time or might be closed out incorrectly. 

Either event will diminish customer satisfaction while also increasing the burden on staff. Staff members will have to either process a claim appeal or backtrack to locate and correct all processing errors.

Universal document automation facilitates true error-free document processing. Machine learning and AI technologies become more efficient over time as they evolve with each processed document. These technologies will significantly decrease data collection errors and improve the quality of claims processing.

Improve Efficiency

Universal document automation technology can substantially improve an insurance company's processing efficiency. Companies implementing universal document automation technologies have experienced 89% faster claims processing. They are also able to process seven times more claims per day.

Faster claims processing will directly impact the customer experience in the insurance industry. Clients will no longer have to wait weeks to find out the dispositions of their claims. In turn, improved efficiency will help insurance companies develop and maintain a positive brand image.

Reduce Reliance on Manual Processes

Manual document review processes are inefficient and expensive. They also prevent employees from engaging in dynamic activities or interacting directly with customers.

Universal document automation will substantially reduce an insurance company’s reliance on manual processes, especially as it is able to recognize any document type. Companies can automate redundant activities, thereby reducing the workload on staff members. This automation will improve employee morale, aid with retaining top talent and create a better working environment for all.

Provide Better Customer Service

Universal document automation enables insurance companies to provide customers with higher-quality service by quickly transforming any type of document into usable, actionable data. Once the data is accessible, IDP can export the data so it can streamline policy creation, facilitate seamless bill processing and reduce the time it takes to close out claims.

According to recent statistics, 68% of consumers are willing to pay more for services as long as the provider has an excellent customer service track record.  By improving the quality of the services they provide, as well as having quick response times, insurance companies can increase the average lifetime value of customers. They can encourage clients to renew their policies and make them less likely to jump ship in search of cheaper rates. 

Ultimately, any universal document automation strategy requires quality data. In light of this, organizations must find an effective way to supply their systems with usable, meaning structured data. At Ephesoft, we offer universal document automation technology to transform documents and data into a structured format, allowing data to flow into other applications. 

Contact our experts today if you want to learn more about Ephesoft's universal document automation solutions for insurance companies.

Rethink IDP With Ephesoft's Universal Document Automation

According to recent data, the intelligent document processing (IDP) market size is projected to increase from $0.8 B in 2021 to over $3.7B by 2026. These projections indicate the surge in demand for IDP solutions, which offer valuable information management tools for businesses across various industries.

Software developers have made considerable strides in intelligent document processing in just the last decade. Most recently, the team at Ephesoft has developed the Semantik AI Engine, which enables universal document automation. 

By leveraging this powerful tool, organizations can forever change how they process documents and analyze data.

What is Universal Document Automation?

Universal document automation is an innovative approach to document extraction in Ephesoft Transact for unknown document types. Powered by AI, this technology can classify and extract data from document types that are not already configured or used in the system with the fields previously identified. 

Universal document automation is now possible because it uses Ephesoft’s proprietary Semantik AI Engine's cutting-edge AI, computer vision and deep learning neural network technology to detect data of interest. This remarkable AI accomplishes these tasks even if the document type is unknown.  

Not only does universal document automation not require set-up, it can automatically extract all the data fields that might be needed. Universal document automation also powers instant key-value extraction of semi-structured and structured documents.

Benefits of Universal Document Automation

In this race to capture the hearts and minds of consumers, data reigns supreme. Therefore, companies must find ways to capture and extract information from various document types to uncover trapped data.

Universal document automation allows you to extract data without creating rules or templates. When using standard IDP solutions, businesses typically must create custom rules or templates before they can begin extracting data. While this process can be valuable if you have lots of the same type of known documents, it can be difficult and costly to do this if there are unknown documents. 

Universal document automation alleviates this pain point by offering a "plug and play" solution that can be deployed rapidly and put to work almost instantly, especially for unknown documents. The functionality allows businesses to experience a faster return on investment while also eliminating the need to create custom rules for every document type. Furthermore, it is far less rigid than traditional options as it offers a new way to process documents.

Among several others, universal document automation provides the following benefits. It can: 

  • Process unknown documents 
  • Automatically detect and extract critical document fields 
  • Data-mine, opportunistically explore and extract any data without configuration, which is key to handling unknown trailing documents
  • Automate entity extraction for large document variant projects that would otherwise be too costly or time-prohibitive
  • Be deployed in the cloud and/or on-premises 
  • Works with English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Polish, Swedish and Dutch languages

Optimal Use Cases for Universal Document Automation

Below are a few application examples for universal document automation: 

Data Discovery

The prime application of this new intelligent document processing feature is for "discovery." For example, a corporate mailroom constantly receives disparate types of documents, making it difficult for staff to know what data is coming in, much less turn this information into actionable intelligence.

Universal document automation turns this pain point into a strength by allowing businesses to ingest these documents efficiently. The technology can also extract the documents' information and then route it to the appropriate workflow for analysis or action.

Facilitating Data Mining

Thanks to its versatility, universal document automation is ideal for data mining. Data mining involves analyzing large data sets to discover patterns or correlations within the information. This tactic can reveal essential business insights that can be used to improve profitability, mitigate risks and improve the customer experience.

Automating Critical Document Field Detection

Manual data extraction processes are slow, inefficient and error-laden. Conversely, team leaders can use universal document automation capabilities to perform lightning-fast data extraction. 

Specifically, these tools allow decision-makers to automate the detection and extraction of critical document fields. This strategy will reduce the burden on staff members while fueling efficiency and improving data accuracy.

Expanding Document Processing Capabilities

The most considerable value provided by universal document automation is that it allows businesses to process a large number of documents regardless of type. Companies can transition from one document type to another without reconfiguring their extraction software or creating new rules. Ultimately, this technology will allow companies to process documents they haven’t been able to in the past.

Providing Higher Quality Customer Service

Greater operational efficiency almost always translates into better customer service. Intelligent automation technologies reduce the workload on employees, which means that they will have more time to spend on critical, customer-facing activities. In addition, improved data extraction and document processing capabilities will provide stakeholders with the information they need to detect consumer trends. This insight will allow them to be more responsive to evolving client needs.

Ready to Learn More?

Ephesoft’s IDP solution is now powered by Semantik AI Engine. For more information, contact us to get a free trial today.

10 Key Considerations for Automating Processes in Higher Education

While colleges and universities have always collected information about their students, the sheer volume of data that they manage has increased exponentially over just the last few decades. This change is due to higher education institutions’ desires to learn how to increase graduation rates and cater to unheard, under-resourced populations.

Some higher education institutions are attempting to manage all this additional data using traditional document processing and collection processes. Not only is this approach extremely inefficient, but it also hinders institutional agility and negatively impacts the student experience.

In 2020, the challenges brought about by the pandemic forced colleges and universities around the globe to reevaluate their data management processes. The lack of flexibility created by manual document processing made it challenging to rapidly transition students to remote or distance learning opportunities. Unfortunately, for this reason, higher education institutions are projected to have lost billions by the time the pandemic ends.

Digitizing and automating previously manual processes can provide some much-needed relief to colleges as they seek ways to:

  • Serve their students better
  • Increase efficiency
  • Contend with financial losses
  • Become more agile 

These institutions should consider implementing business process automation technologies to ease their challenges, transform their document-centric processes and data analysis capabilities and foster sustainable data analytics.

Let’s examine ten critical considerations that colleges and universities must know when starting their automation journey. This information will help facilitate a more seamless transition while highlighting the need for these technologies in the educational setting.

1. The Demand for Distance Learning is Increasing

In the fall of 2019, there were 19,637,499 individuals enrolled in post-secondary institutions. Of these, 17.6% (3,450,125) of students were exclusively enrolled in distance learning courses. Another 3,863,498 students (19.7%) took at least one distance learning course. Fast forward to 2020, and over half of college students were enrolled in at least one distance learning course. 

While this surge in distance learning is undoubtedly related to the pandemic, there is a high likelihood that many students will stick with online or hybrid learning for the foreseeable future. The private sector is experiencing a similar trend, as millions of workers expect to continue working in remote capacities. 

So how does this relate to automation? Even when institutions were predominantly in-person, processes were often manual and labor-intensive. Once workers and staff were remote, a lack of automation slowed many processes down even more, especially processing admissions, records, financial applications, transcripts and other documents. This development paves the way for higher education institutions to implement business process automation technologies.

2. Many Tedious Manual Processes Can Be Automated

Higher education institutions hesitant to implement digital transformation initiatives often do not realize how many tedious manual processes can be partially or entirely automated. They would immediately recognize just how valuable these technologies are to their learning institution if they did. 

Some standard processes that digital transformation can automate in higher education include:

  • Enrollment and admissions management
  • Financial aid
  • Transcripts
  • Human resources processes
  • Invoicing and purchasing
  • Auditing
  • Compliance
  • Operations

Those are not all that digital transformation can offer. By automating even a few of these repetitive processes, universities can significantly reduce the workload of human employees and increase operational efficiency. 

3. Digital Transformation Does Not Occur Overnight

Like any change to an organization’s infrastructure, facilitating a digital transformation by strategically deploying automation technologies can seem overwhelming and disruptive. However, the benefits deliver long-term, impactful results. 

Higher education institutions must approach their automation journey with the understanding that the process will not be completed overnight. Instead, it will involve incremental changes implemented over weeks or months. The good news is these efforts will pay off and deliver a positive ROI.

4. Automation Technology Enhances Operational Efficiency

While automation technologies offer many benefits, one of the most noteworthy is drastically enhancing operational efficiency. Several prominent higher education institutions have successfully implemented automation technology into their business processes. 

For instance, Pepperdine University adopted several digital transformation improvements, leading to a 95% increase in document processing efficiency. Automating their processes helped multiple departments that were struggling to keep up with the demands of remote learning.

5. AI and Machine Learning Solutions Provide Invaluable Insights

Combining AI and machine learning technologies, such as automated intelligent document processing, allows higher learning institutions to convert unstructured, trapped data into actionable intelligence. Staff can eliminate manual processes, driving efficiency, productivity and better student and employee experiences.

6. Business Process Automation Increases Organizational Agility

Business process automation solutions are a highly effective way of increasing organizational agility. By deploying these technologies, colleges and universities can:

  • Alleviate common back-office pain points
  • Improve data collection
  • Reduce administrative overhead costs

Implementing intelligent automation solutions has dramatically improved many higher education processes. 

7. Robotic Process Automation (RPAs) Are Only Part of the Equation

While many higher education institutions are already using robotic process automation in some capacity, this technology alone cannot impact an entire suite of business process automation solutions. 

If colleges and universities want to achieve high-level hyperautomation as part of their digital transformation, they must implement several different technologies. Examples include:

  • Integration platform as a service (iPaaS)
  • Intelligent document processing software
  • AI and machine learning solutions 

8. Automation Tech + Workflow Software Produces Better Student Experiences

If universities hope to foster and maintain a positive reputation within the higher education community, they must provide students with an exceptional learning experience. One of the easiest ways to do this is to streamline front-facing administrative processes that impact students. These processes include admissions, financial aid and registration-related tasks. 

Workflow software and automation technologies offer the ideal solution for producing optimal student experiences. Using these technologies, administrative staff can reduce friction along key touchpoints between students and employees. 

This approach will allow counselors, professors, financial aid personnel and other staff members to provide a higher level of service to their college students. 

9. Automation Solutions Support FERPA Compliance Efforts

Regulatory legislation such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires schools, including post-secondary educational institutions, to protect the privacy of certain student records. Maintaining compliance with FERPA guidelines can be quite challenging when an institution relies on manual processes. 

Conversely, intelligent document processing and other automation solutions can enhance data governance and oversight capabilities. This approach will make it easier for colleges to ensure compliance with privacy laws like FERPA while also protecting the confidential information of their students. 

10. Choosing the Right Digital Transformation Partner Is Key

There is no question that implementing automation technologies can revolutionize how colleges and universities interact with and manage their data. However, the key to any successful digital transformation is the right technology partner. Selecting a technology and implementation partner with experience, flexibility and proven technology success is essential. Are you ready to automate?

If your institution seeks to work with a trusted partner who has experience working in the post-secondary education sector, connect with Ephesoft or learn more on our higher education webpage.

How Hyperautomation Creates Business Value

New technologies and business processes have significantly impacted organizations across virtually every industry in the past few years. Of these, hyperautomation – automating everything in a business that can be automated – has been particularly beneficial because this methodology is becoming a prime focus for hundreds of companies as they seek ways to remain competitive in the increasingly crowded global marketplace. 

Gartner projects the market for hyperautomation technologies to reach nearly $600 billion by the end of 2022. Their research also suggests that more than 70% of large global enterprises will have over 70 concurrent hyperautomation initiatives in place by 2024. 

As such, they recognize hyperautomation to be the best decision any business can make for the sake of upgrading their cost-saving capacity, efficiency, and agility in this rapidly evolving age of information.

What is Hyperautomation?

First, the term "automation" refers to automating a single process or mechanism. Conversely, "hyperautomation" refers to using multiple automation technologies, including intelligent document processing (IDP) software and robotic process automation (RPA) solutions. 

Hyperautomation is not a specific type of technology or software but rather a comprehensive business methodology that involves automating organizational processes to enhance productivity, increase profitability, and drive innovation, ultimately creating a significant competitive advantage. When implementing a hyperautomation strategy, organizations deploy several solutions to automate as many tools and processes as possible. By automating many operations across the broader organization, businesses can maximize the benefits of this emerging technology class.  

What Are the Three Business Value Pillars of Hyperautomation?

A comprehensive hyperautomation plan will enhance business value in three key ways. These are:

1. Cost Savings

Perhaps the most apparent benefit to hyperautomation is cost savings. Businesses that successfully implement a hyperautomation strategy can reduce costs across multiple departments.

Digital technologies that allow for the automation of redundant processes reduce the staffing requirements of an organization. Fewer tasks will require manual intervention, so the company will, ultimately, not need to hire and retain as many employees.

In addition, hyperautomation allows staff members to focus on performing more dynamic tasks. They can spend their days working on high-value projects, improving the customer experience, and more.

Since hiring new staff is more expensive than retaining current team members, enhancing employee morale can lead to further cost savings. As such, adopting hyperautomation tools into company infrastructure reduces workloads, prevents burnout, and even expedites hand-off processes. This will lead to a lower turnover rate and retention of top talent for longer. 

2. Efficiency

Hyperautomation will also allow team members to operate more efficiently, which means that each employee will spend less time performing redundant or time-consuming tasks, such as manual data entry. Implementing this change will enable employees to work more efficiently and become more productive.

As a result, businesses can produce higher-quality products and services and get their services to market faster by reducing human error and increasing the consistency of development processes.

3. Agility

If the last few years have taught businesses anything, it is vital to be agile. Since 2020, various industries have faced unprecedented challenges due to unstable economies and natural disasters. The companies that fared the best were the ones that prepared to adjust to volatile market conditions rapidly.

By leveraging IDP software and RPA technologies, hyperautomation can significantly increase an organization's land economic agility regardless of unforeseen circumstances. When armed with these tools, businesses can pave the way for highly dynamic data-driven decision-making and gain real-time insights into their organization's state and the market they operate within.

How Can Companies Start Their Hyperautomation Journey?

With hyperautomation, a business becomes more competitive, moves faster, and lowers the cost of operations to create a sustainable digital business environment. 

Successfully implementing a hyperautomation strategy begins with a great plan. Generally, businesses should target the "low hanging fruit" when seeking to deploy automation technologies. Specifically, they should identify basic, redundant processes ripe for automation. Common examples include but are not limited to invoicing, accounts payable processing, and mailroom protocols. Businesses can experience a better ROI almost immediately by automating those processes first. 

After those areas of the organization have been automated, companies can identify additional strategies that they want to streamline using automation technologies. 

Businesses need to utilize a standardized document processing technology to "feed" or "onboard" data into various systems. This might include workflow management software and RPA solutions because using a standardized document processing solution is essential for governance and auditing purposes.

Ultimately, these hyperautomation changes will allow businesses to optimize all systems and processes across their entire organization. They will simultaneously reduce costs, increase efficiency, boost profits and increase their decision-making dynamism. This will improve a company's ability to adapt to ever-changing market conditions, protect business continuity and add significantly to the business's value.

Ephesoft: Setting the Stage for Hyperautomation

Any hyperautomation strategy requires quality data. In light of this, organizations must find an effective way to supply their hyperautomation systems with usable, meaning structured data.

At Ephesoft, we offer IDP technology to transform documents and data into a structured format, allowing data to flow into other applications. This data is the foundation to kickstart any hyperautomation initiative. 

Connect with our experts today or register for a free trial to learn more about our IDP solutions.

IDP in 2022: Driving Towards the Unknown

First published in Document Strategy on December 21, 2021

Predictions and Outcomes in the New Year

2021 was an interesting year for the Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) space, and all of us participating is this ever-morphing market. Gartner’s latest Competitive Landscape Report on IDP Vendors lists over 40 solutions offerings that meet the criteria to be listed, and it seems every day there is a new startup or solution looking to add this high-demand functional capability. So where are the leaders going and what will be on the roadmap for 2022? How will this next year shape the market? Here are five trends I see continuing and others that will develop over the next 12 months.

Trend #1: HA, HA, HA 

Hyperautomation (HA) initiatives will continue to target document-intensive tasks and relieve end users from the digital headache that is document process automation. With over 60% of business processes including records access or documents, this focus provides quick wins for automation teams, and with the right tool, can provide significantly improved business outcomes. In addition, organizations will continue to expand intelligent document processing capabilities beyond structured and semi-structured documents, providing the ability to extract Data of Interest (DOI) from unstructured documents. 

>> Structuring the unstructured will provide a gold mine of insight for leading IDP-enabled organizations.

Trend #2: Head in the Cloud

Over the past year, we have seen a massive increase in adoption of our cloud IDP solution and demand for cloud availability has risen over the past 2 years for obvious reasons. Industries, like banking and government – cloud holdout stalwarts  – are now adopting at light speed to introduce new services, cut costs and adapt their organizations for the future. 

>> Cloud adoption will continue and demand for “on-premises” solutions will wane.

Trend #3: Taming of the Sprawl 

IDP is pervasive, and with the rise of hyperautomation, organizations are many times too scattered when it comes to document processing. One department is leveraging Document Understanding in their RPA tool. Another uses a workflow plugin for Google Vision in the cloud. Still another department is using an ERP suite IDP to process invoices. This “sprawl” of IDP capabilities creates a management, security and governance nightmare, not to mention a lack of standardization and repeatability across the business. 

>> Smart organizations will standardize on a single IDP platform that can centralize core document processing and service all their HA needs.

Trend #4: AI Arms Race 

IDP is really all about maximizing automated processing and minimizing the requirement for a human-in-the-loop. The real value comes from the accuracy of the system the minute you turn on the switch, or what we call Day Zero Accuracy (DZA). High DZA equals high straight-through processing (STP) rates, minimal human intervention and higher value to the organization of the overall solution. You only get there with REALLY good AI models optimized for DZA. 

>> IDP vendors will continue to focus on achieving the elusive 100% STP rate with innovative AI models.

Trend #5: Deciphering the Unknown 

The IDP market has focused the last few years on the “known.” Known document types, expected data and predictable document flow. But that’s not where the real value lies. There is immense value in having a solution that can use technology to tackle the unknown. I get the question all the time: What if I don’t know what I will get when I open a document? What if there are so many possibilities of what may accompany the primary document that it would take too much time and money to configure? To date, the IDP industry just can’t process “unknown” well. They use static AI, purpose-built for a use case, or rules to accomplish the goal. 2022 will change all that.  

>> 2022 will be the year of the “unknown” for IDP.

Interested in how Ephesoft will tackle the Unknown in 2022? Contact us today to be the first to see how we are going to change the IDP industry and drive impactful business outcomes this coming year.



7 Hyperautomation Technologies for Enterprise Business Success

When businesses can utilize a convenient set of tools to automate, connect, integrate and translate the many different apps and software in their toolbox into a cohesive unit that works well together, that’s hyperautomation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic motivated the sudden drive for hyperautomation as organizations looked to evolve their business and drive automation to all facets of their new reality. Employee shortages, the need for application access and the speed at which all important data can be available are driving businesses to embrace the use of hyperautomation. 

What Technology Does Hyperautomation Use?

When it comes to enabling hyperautomation, there are many technologies and toolsets required. If you think about each of the processes and tasks that you touch every day, each portion of those step-by-step human-led tasks needs a technical counterpart to mimic and work to completion. The hyperautomation toolkit requires a broad technology base to help in automating business workflows and decision-making. It is a way to take these formerly isolated, semi-automated or unautomated tasks and make them fully integrated and seamlessly automated to become something more: a cohesive hyperautomated unit.

1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & iPaaS

Robotic processes are the very essence of hyperautomation. Robots or bots excel at repetitive, rules-based tasks. Automating such tasks reduces the workload on humans by 70% to 80%, so your human labor force can concentrate on more value-added tasks. Many of your day-to-day business processes can be automated using RPA, such as processing applications, procure-to-pay, reporting preparation and data transfer. An Ephesoft poll at a webinar in July 2021 revealed that 42% of attendees rated RPA systems as their top hyperautomation tool.  

Taking RPA to the next level, iPaaS, or integration Platform as a Service, provides a deeper and robust integration capability through simple and easy-to-use no-code interfaces.

2. Intelligent Business Process Management Suites (iBPMS)

Simply put, iBPMS enables the creation of physical, real-world processes in the virtual realm.  They allow the creation, operations and monitoring of these processes and provide a means for strategic management of automation. This creates more effective workflow experiences from start to finish through the use of cloud-based platforms and low-code/no-code tools. 

3. Process Mining

A new and highly innovative software, process mining, gives businesses the ability to study their current “processes,” identify the flow of the process and summarize how those processes are running on a day-to-day basis. It provides detailed and data-driven logs about each process, including function, timeliness, operator, and how that data compares to the average. Process mining can identify repetitive tasks given to people and allow companies to transfer those tasks to automation tools. 

4. APIs

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the meet and greet of the software world. They are the middleman that lets two different software types talk to each other. Using APIs, developers can harness data from different software types into a single interface or application, and provide an integration layer that ties hyperautomation elements together. 

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

AI today goes beyond just collecting data – it has morphed, through business needs, into a deep understanding of data. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are similar disciplines, but their differences lie in automatic learning. AI can mimic human responses, while machine learning adapts from human responses and enhances this intelligence. AI is paramount to raising the level of automation to levels humans could never achieve.

6. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Natural Language Processing is a subset of artificial intelligence that deals with a computer’s ability to learn spoken and written language. It takes the real-world input of language and converts it into a code that a computer can understand. It is necessary for automating complex use cases where sentiment and key text must be analyzed.

7. Intelligent Document Processing

OCR technology can scan and digitize documents but it has its limits. When OCR is taken to the next level using AI or machine learning, it is called intelligent document processing (IDP). Any form or document can be parsed, read classified and data extracted using this technology. IDP takes unstructured or unsearchable information and transforms it into structured, actionable data.

For example, Agnico Eagle Mines used Ephesoft integration to process handwritten invoices that had been previously manually entered. With intelligent document processing technology, like Ephesoft Transact, the invoices are automatically captured, extracted and exported into their ERP solution. With this implementation, the accounting staff can process 20,000 more invoices per year.

How Can You Put Hyperautomation to Work?

Most of the fundamental processes of a business can be hyperautomated. Here are just a few examples of how hyper and intelligent automation can help your business.

  • Chatbots can assist many customer service applications 
  • Unstructured documents can be automatically read by IDP, simplifying and accelerating data retrieval 
  • AI and machine learning can ease the burden on customer support using conversational AI and RPA
  • RPA can analyze financial transactions, find pertinent information and scan and assess for fraudulent activity
  • iBPMS combined with RPA assists enterprises to analyze their business and procedures

Cost Savings and ROI Using Hyperautomation

Many businesses report 80% cost and time savings from their automation projects, and your savings will depend on the level of implementation you choose. 

The desire for hyperautomation hit hyperdrive during the pandemic, while the landscape showed some room for improvement and exposed technology gaps. Businesses realized that they needed to ensure that all nodes in the process talk to each other in the same manner. As you plan your hyperautomation strategy, be sure to discuss how your needs align with your existing technology stack.  

Also, consider the ROI of reallocating your staff away from data input and toward operations within your company that require human interactions. For example, the time saved travels downstream as managers no longer need to approve documents weeks and months later because the process has been hyperautomated. 

With more remote workers — or even workers distanced within an office — hyperautomation propels businesses as feature enhancements have reached new departments that hadn’t previously realized the need. Because of this shift, the next layer of hyperautomation will reach all departments working in harmony.

4 Questions to Ask Every “AI” Software Vendor or Consultant

The What, Why, Where and How of the AI Conversation

“We use AI.” “It’s AI-based.” “AI-powered solution.”

If CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and all their managers had a nickel for every time these statements or some variation was declared, we could solve our national debt. AI misstatements and overt declarations are pervasive in today’s landscape with the term being used broadly to mean many things. A technologist may have one understanding, a product manager another and a salesperson might have her own interpretation. Every day, I see and hear misunderstandings due to our broad, and mostly disparate, understanding of the term.

Here are some clear and focused guidelines for discussion to help provide a response to the inevitable phrase, “We use AI.” In this article, I’ll use the “What, Why, Where, When, How” sequence to provide an outline to help facilitate conversations with your AI software vendors and consultants.

What is AI?

The concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was brought about by scientists and mathematicians in the 1950s who explored the mathematical possibilities of machines making decisions with human-like intelligence. At that time, computers could not store commands, they just executed instruction sets. But the dream and concept of AI was alive and kicking: it was the ability of machines to perform human tasks.

Zoom to the present day in 2021 and AI is a pervasive term in our day-to-day business lives, overused (many times incorrectly) and misunderstood by many. A key first step in evaluating AI solutions and vendor offerings is to level-set on a definition of AI. Ask the question “How do you define AI?” Is it the simplest version of a machine performing human tasks? Is it predictive? Or, are we talking about Skynet and self-awareness? (Terminator reference and a big fan). Establishing this mutual definition will help in all follow-up conversations and help avoid improperly set expectations.

Why Do You Use AI?

Using AI for the buzzword-effect’s sake can be a waste of precious resources and provide little to no advantage if used in the wrong circumstance. AI should be used in situations where intense human involvement is a drain on the organization, or where the consumption and analysis of large volumes of data can provide competitive advantage. Essentially, driving enhanced business outcomes should be the primary use case.

Ask the question, “Why are you using AI?” Any software vendor should be able to outline the advantage provided over non-AI means and clearly state the enhanced business outcomes and resultant efficiencies.

Where do you use AI and where is it hosted?

Understanding where in the process or business solution AI is used can be very telling and give you a feel for your vendors comprehension of the requirements and expected business outcome. Does the model align with your understanding of the pain point? Will it actually alleviate delays and errors and provide enhanced levels of productivity? Ensuring your hands-on business teams validate the Where is important as it helps guide your project and results.

The second Where question focuses on an important question: where does your AI live? Obviously, the rise of the cloud has made AI infrastructure a no-brainer, with cloud companies like AWS and Microsoft providing application developers and data science teams access to unlimited horsepower and key components for rapid development and management. Is a cloud environment right for your organization or do you need a containerized offering that can run on-premises?

How do you use AI?

The final How essentially ties all the previous questions and answers together. I’ll give an example. You don’t hit a tack with a sledgehammer, and not all business problems require AI as a solution. Here at Ephesoft, we leverage our AI in many of the complex document tasks where it provides excellent accuracy and business outcomes in both of our platforms. For example, we have a patent pending on our Semantik neural network for identifying and extracting complex invoice table data, which uses AI and supervised machine learning technology. However, not every problem requires that type of solution or the overhead of AI processes. For example, if you need the system to classify high-volumes of document types, AI may be too slow for the desired business outcome and may not meet your service level agreement because in this case, there are non-AI processing techniques that are much faster. The How needs to make sense, the right tool for the right job.

Hopefully, this article provides some insight into how to discern real AI from fluff and misconceptions so your next digital transformation project can achieve your expected business outcomes. If you would like to discuss further, contact us today.