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7 Strategic Benefits of Intelligent Document Processing

Here’s why you should care about the benefits of intelligent document processing (IDP).

Contracts.

Invoices.

Bank statements.

Application forms.

Insurance claims.

Pick any organisation in any industry, and you’ll find digital as well as paper-based documents everywhere and in large volumes, creating headaches for admin teams.

As if that weren’t enough, up to 90% of those documents are unstructured and difficult to process quickly.

Instead of neat standardised templates, they come in various formats — paper documents, images, spreadsheets, video and audio, threaded emails, social media content, web server logs, and more — making it even harder to extract and use the data they contain.

Legal & General discovered this after launching their wildly-popular Pension Pot Tracing service. Day in and day out, dedicated L&G personnel had to sift through a huge volume of fragmented and scattered documentation from 60+ pension providers.

"[...] Lack of standardisation meant that L&G’s team had to manually collect, sort, classify, validate, and input massive amounts of information into their internal system, leaving little to no time for other business activities."

Legal & General Pension Pot Tracing Case Study

While the content was relatively similar, document formats and reporting methods varied widely across providers. L&G would receive multitudes of document templates, with many documents not following a templated structure at all. Some were even paper-based.

graph revealing the benefits of intelligent document processing as measured by the growth of unstructured data
Image courtesy of ResearchGate

This is the beauty and benefit of IDP. Intelligent Document Processing enables organisations to automatically transform all data types into easy-to-use standardised information — and that's just one of the many benefits of intelligent document processing.

First Things First: What Is Intelligent Document Processing, and How Does It Work?

Intelligent document processing is a software solution that automates the handling of paper and electronic documents, reducing the need for human intervention. Depending on the service provider and the technology used, this can include a wide range of business processes, such as:

  • Digitising paper-based documents
  • Converting unstructured documents into structured data
  • Classifying and indexing documents
  • Reading and understanding their content
  • Extracting relevant data
  • Sending data points to a target location like a spreadsheet or a CRM system
  • Validating data by cross-referencing with internal and external sources

To do that, modern IDP solutions use a combination of technologies, such as deep learning (DL), machine learning (ML), optical character recognition (OCR), natural language processing (NLP), robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI).

Benefits of Intelligent Document Processing for Document-Heavy Businesses

Here are seven business benefits of intelligent document processing tools:

1. Big Efficiency and Productivity Gains

Many document workflows are labour intensive when done manually but entail relatively simple, repetitive tasks that lend themselves well to automation.

The resulting time gains are more than impressive. Where a human takes hours to sort, index, convert, and extract complex documents, an IDP solution can do it for seconds. According to Salesforce, automation saves organisations up to 70% in staff time.

But that's not all.

By reducing the need for manual intervention in document handling, IDP also frees your human workforce to focus on activities that require value judgement and emotional intelligence, such as data analysis or customer acquisition.

The result? You get to do more in less time without increasing your headcount.

2. Cost Savings and a Higher Return on Investment

Manual document processing is more expensive than you might realise.

In 2021, Ernst & Young estimated that a single manual data entry by an HR professional costs $4.70 on average. For more complex tasks and document types, the average cost can increase tenfold.

table depicting the benefits of automation and intelligent document processing by EY
Image courtesy of Ernst & Young

The good news is that the more your organisation relies on manual processing, the more it would benefit from implementing an IDP solution. By drastically reducing document processing time, IDP helps cut operational costs almost instantly and without hiring new employees. 

You can realise an even greater ROI down the line by reinvesting the cost savings into other areas of the business and reallocating staff to higher-value tasks.

3. Improved Accuracy and Lower Risk of Human Error

Errors, mistakes, and oversights are a given in manual data processing.

Back in 2005, Raymond R. Panko, a professor at the University of Hawaii Department of Information Technology, found that 88% of Excel spreadsheets have 1% or more formula errors on average.

Errors were so pervasive that, for large spreadsheets, the question wasn’t whether there were errors but rather how many they were. Yet, spreadsheet creation remained largely ad hoc and informal, and few of the surveyed organisations had policies for spreadsheet development.

Luckily, technologies have come a long way since. Intelligent document processing solutions reduce the risk of errors virtually to zero. As a result, you can extract and process documents quicker than ever while also benefiting from improved accuracy and high-quality data. 

4. Higher Consumer Satisfaction and a Superior Customer Experience

Automated document processing translates into faster turnaround times, speedier responses to customer requests, and better overall service.

Customers no longer need to fill out paper forms or book in-person appointments for straightforward admin tasks such as opening a bank account or submitting a loan application.

Instead, they can upload their paperwork or send a request online, and the IDP system will automatically route it to the right department. This makes life easier for customers and reduces the burden on your team.

5. Improved Compliance and Data Security

Another key benefit of intelligent document processing is that it helps businesses be more compliant.

For instance, most IDP solutions allow you to define sensitive data blocks and personally identifiable information and only show them to authorised personnel. This helps ensure compliance with data privacy regulations like the GDPR or HIPAA.

Functionalities like these couldn’t have come at a better time: Gartner estimates that 65% of the global population will have its personal information covered under privacy laws by 2023.

IDP also always leaves a digital trail, which can be used for audits, and reduces the need for manual Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks in financial services. IDP systems can also be programmed to monitor for fraud and direct suspicious patterns to the appropriate stakeholder.

6. Built-In Scalability for Fast Business Growth

Modern IDP solutions are:

  • Scalable: You can use them to automate various processes across your business.
  • Cloud native: There is no need for on-premise installation or infrastructure, so you won’t have to spend a small fortune on new devices or a team of IT experts.
  • Process agnostic: The solution integrates seamlessly with your existing tech stack — including legacy software and bespoke enterprise systems — and can process documents of different sizes, sources, and file types.

Once deployed, your IDP solution will grow with your organisation to meet your evolving document processing needs.

7. Increased Competitive Advantage

To finish things off, here are some numbers for you.

Within three months of adopting automation, US businesses saw 7% year-on-year revenue growth on average. That’s an extra $195 billion per month

But there’s more.

Automation also more than doubled speed and agility and improved employee productivity by 47%, with the potential to boost productivity by 15% in the long run.

In the UK, the average year-on-year increase in revenue was £14 billion per month. 

Overall, automation has enabled US and UK companies to position themselves for growth and stay resilient in an uncertain pandemic economy — and it looks like the trend is here to stay.

Image courtesy of VentureBeat 

Want to Learn More About the Benefits of Intelligent Document Processing?

Whether your organisation is only getting started on its automation journey or has been at it for a while, you should consider investing in a high-quality IDP solution.

Intelligent document processing drastically streamlines business operations, makes you less reliant on manual processes, reduces operating costs, boosts customer satisfaction, and improves the employee experience.

Crucially, IDP also gives you a much-needed competitive advantage in an age of rapid automation and digitalisation.

To learn more, read about Unitek's IDP solutions or book a free, no-obligation demo to see how our Automation Experience Platform can power your digital transformation.

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