ABBYY recently wrapped up its annual Technology Summit in Las Vegas where 300+ partners, customers, analysts and employees received the latest information about our revenue growth, new products, customer successes, and insight into our vision and strategy.
One hot topic of conversation was robotic process automation (RPA) and how capture (as it’s been known for years) fits in. For the past couple years RPA adoption has grown to where enterprise organizations have automated anywhere from a few processes to many. This wide adoption is not at all surprising given a robot is capable of automating all types of structured repetitive tasks, like moving data between two applications.
In all the excitement using robots, customers have come to realize that to get more value from their RPA investment, they still need a way to automate the processing of semi-structured and unstructured content. These types of processes require turning unstructured content – digital, images, and text – into structured, actionable data that can then be processed by a robot. This is where robots are confronted with the problem of trying to identify what type of document it is and extracting the relevant data.
Think about all the ways work gets done in an organization. There is no escaping the processes involving content in business areas like finance and accounting (invoices, purchase orders, sales orders); logistics (customs declarations, proof of delivery, bills of lading); financial services (mortgage lending, opening accounts, trade confirmation); and insurance (claims, policy administration, opening accounts).
The challenges become: How do I automate these processes? Where do I start? How do I prioritize?
It Starts with a Content Intelligence Strategy
RPA amplifies the potential of automating processes while spotlighting all the inefficiencies that continue to challenge organizations surrounding content. It also highlights that despite the continued push towards full digitization, many operations are still not fully digital. Therefore, understanding the role of content in the enterprise is key to improving processes and user productivity.
Content intelligence technologies and solutions are helping organizations achieve the next level of automation by bringing technologies like OCR and machine learning to identify unstructured content and turn it into meaningful information that can be processed by a robot and remove any barriers previously existing.
A simple way to think of content intelligence is it is AI with a focus on documents that:
- Easily automates and analyze content-centric processes involving images, documents, texts, and communications.
- Analyze and learn from content to make more informed decisions.
- Incorporate machine learning to perpetually improve and streamline business processes.
- Measure, sustain, and adapt digitized processes over time.
It’s more than OCR. It’s the intelligence component that drives higher value content solutions and is the core to any digital automation strategy involving RPA, BPM and other automation platforms.
Delivering the Right Skills to Make Robots Smarter
Today, robots are instructed to perform simple tasks like reading and inputting data from a spreadsheet into an ERP system. To build smarter robots that handle and process content like a human, robots require a new set of skills to get to the next level of automation. Content intelligence delivers the skills to empower robots to think like humans by automatically classifying thousands of variations of a document or image, and extracting business data like name, invoice line item details, or a driver’s license. All this is fed back into the robot for processing.
Initially, most organizations have taken a narrow view of how to achieve incremental improvements by focusing on automating repetitive tasks. While automating repetitive business tasks may free up employees for more valuable work, true digital transformation needs to re-imagine business processes by leveraging content intelligence and RPA.
Today, ABBYY has partnerships with UiPath, Blue Prism and other RPA vendors to deliver content intelligence to customers looking to automate high-value content centric use cases. ABBYY and RPA give robots the ability to process content like humans in the form of vision perception along with knowledge and insight into the data it’s extracting.
The Future Holds Great Opportunity
AI, RPA, content intelligence and other technologies are fueling a major transformative automation wave. We are already seeing the impact and direction of a new digital workforce that will connect to your systems, work side-by-side with your employees, and connect other technologies to handle more complex tasks. The ability to understand and process content is core to this latest automation wave. Without a means to digitize, classify, extract, and understand data, processes will breakdown and humans will be asked to do more.
Furthermore, organizations’ desire to tackle a wide array of automation projects across the enterprise is driving change. For example, RPA is not a siloed solution approach, rather it is driving automation across many business groups. It’s making enterprises rethink their business organizational structure, and how technologies connect and work together in this new ecosystem of robotics. This transformative wave of technology and approach is and will continue to bring about more change and innovation.