Data capture from paper of electronic documents is an essential step for many business processes, and often is the initiator for customer-facing business processes. Capture has traditionally required human effort – data entry workers transcribing Information from paper documents, or copying and pasting text from electronic documents – to expose information for downstream processing.
Why “Intelligent Capture” is a game-changer
Intelligent capture replaces manual capture with fully-automated conversion of documents to business-ready data, whether the document originated as a paper document or in machine-readable electronic form. Intelligent capture technologies include:
- Recognition of printed text, handwriting and Barcodes from scanned paper documents
- Classification to identify the type of document, based on its content and format
- Text analytics to extract specific data elements from the document required for the business process
Intelligent Capture and Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is a fundamental shift of business models and activities onto digital platforms, and requires rethinking and retooling an organization’s end-to-end business processes. Not just impacting internal workers, digital transformation can only occur through significant enablement of customer channels. This requires comprehensive self-service capabilities, where customers create and complete transactions without intervention from workers inside the organization.
Business process management (BPM) technologies have focused on streamlining and automating internal processes, so that once data is captured from inbound documents, many transactions can be fully automated. Intelligent capture creates a link between external customers and the internal automated processes, allowing for fully-automated self-service business models that could not previously exist. Using intelligent capture, a document submitted by a customer can be automatically recognized, classified, stored and used to trigger a process. This is a fundamental shift in how customers can choose to interact with organizations through digitally transformed channels, enabled by intelligent capture.
Here are some of the key benefits that intelligent capture brings to digital transformation Projects:
- Customers are more engaged with the company and its products through self-service
- Many transactions are fully automated and provide instantaneous results, which cuts internal costs while delighting customers
- Knowledge workers can focus on problem resolution instead of processing routine transactions
- Customers can be offered additional goods and services during their transaction based on content analytics
Application of Intelligent Capture in the service industry
There are many possible uses for intelligent capture in service industries:
- Invoice processing. Although invoices are a basic tool for every business, each company may have its own format. Intelligent capture can determine the layout of the invoice, and extract key fields such as supplier number, PO number, due date, line item details and totals.
- Contract negotiation and management, where different versions of contracts must be carefully reviewed and compared to minimize legal and financial risk. Intelligent capture can automatically identify document sections, and the terms and conditions within that section, to compare with standard clauses.
- Employee onboarding. When a new employee starts with a company, they may have to submit many different documents, such as identity and tax forms. Intelligent capture allows them to photograph or submit these using their mobile device, then automatically extract the information and upload it to the HR system.
Points to consider before implementation
Intelligent capture solutions employ a suite of technologies, depending on the documents and data to be captured: recognition, classification, text analytics, and even photo recognition. It’s essential that the solution that you select has been tested on the type of documents that you will be capturing to ensure that documents are properly classified and the content extracted for use in the downstream business processes. If your customers will be capturing their documents directly, the solution needs to support mobile device cameras and uploading from their own PCs, which may require a cloud solution to support secure scanning and upload.
However, you also need to ensure that the downstream business processes are as automated as possible, using technologies such as business process management and decision management. Once these business processes receive the data extracted by intelligent capture, they can execute routine transactions with a minimum of human intervention.
Sandy Kemsley is an independent analyst, consultant and process architect specializing in business process management and social enterprise.