Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic (and counting), the future of the global economy is still riddled with uncertainty.
One thing we do know for sure is that COVID has pushed businesses across the board to speed up their digital transformation. With more people working remotely than ever before — most of whom don’t plan to return to the office — digitalisation and automation will be key to remaining competitive in a post-pandemic world.
This bodes well for the intelligent document processing market. In 2020, it was valued at $765.2 million. Current estimates expect it to reach a whopping $6,785.2 million by 2027, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.4%.
Let’s take a look at what’s coming next for the industry as we approach the second half of 2022 — and how you can prepare for the challenges ahead by investing in new technologies and processes.
Intelligent document processing (IDP) is an umbrella term for a wide variety of services, software products, and processes that digitise paper and electronic documents and automate data processing. This entails determining what each document is, understanding its content, extracting the data, and sending it to the right place, such as a spreadsheet or a CRM system, with minimal to no human intervention. IDP solutions can also validate documents by cross-referencing with databases and other sources.
IDP uses advanced technologies such as:
Here are seven trends we’re seeing in the IDP industry — and what they might mean for your business:
The past couple of years have seen rapid adoption of cloud-based as opposed to on-premise solutions, and it looks like the trend is here to stay. Thanks to the rise of hybrid work arrangements and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, even technologically conservative industries like banking and government are now adopting cloud IDP en masse to enable employees to access documentation remotely, cut back on costs and maintenance, and adapt their organisations for the future.
Historically, IDP solutions focused mainly on processing structured and semi-structured data. Structured data comes in a standard format or template, has a well-defined structure and a persistent order, complies to a data model, and is easily accessed by both humans and programs. This type of data is easy to process and, crucially, is searchable and usable.
Enter unstructured data. It doesn’t conform to a specific model, rule, or document type. It has no easily identifiable structure. As it isn’t organised and comes in various file formats — images, PDFs, emails, forms, videos, etc. — it cannot be stored in a logical way in a database or another directory and can’t be easily used by programs or human agents.
The trouble is, 80–90% of business data is unstructured. As more organisations successfully automate the processing of structured and semi-structured documents, a growing number of customers will be looking into IDP for unstructured data as the next logical step in their digital transformation.
One thing to keep in mind here is that some services, like Unitek’s IDP solution, are able to process unstructured documents, but many aren’t, so choosing the right provider is crucial.
In 2021, we were already seeing a shift from more generic IDP services to solutions built for industry-specific use cases or processes, such as Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), GDPR compliance requirements, claims processing, and more. Developing solutions for specific use cases helps streamline implementation and significantly reduces the time to value.
Small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) now hold the largest market share with big organisations lagging behind. This can be explained by the growing numbers of SMEs and their need to maximise cost savings and optimise resources in the face of an increasingly competitive landscape and a dwindling on-premise workforce. Another trend we’re seeing is that many SMEs are starting to integrate intelligent document processing with RPA to maximise accuracy and efficiency.
IDP solutions are being adopted across industry verticals. Market segments that are currently seeing the most growth include:
As intelligent document processing grows in popularity and new vendors and solutions spring up like mushrooms, many organisations end up using different solutions for different departments or business processes.
The proliferation of IDP solutions creates an administrative nightmare and a lack of repeatability and scalability. Going forward, more organisations will be looking to standardise their IDP solutions on a single automation platform to ensure consistency across systems and give their employees access to the same tools, training, and support.
In the past, intelligent document processing has focused on the “known,” i.e., predictable and expected data, file formats, and document flow. Modern solutions have only recently started to tap into the immense potential of tackling the unknown. In the near future, static, purpose-built IDP solutions for specific use cases or sets of rules will be supplemented by technologies that can handle unknown information.
Request a free, no-strings-attached demo of Unitek’s intelligent automation platform to see the future of IDP technology in action.