Most organizations are at a critical juncture with their data. They recognize the importance of harnessing data intelligently. But using 80% to 90% of that useful information – primarily hidden in unstructured sources such as e-mails, customer chats, phone calls, invoices, videos, and other digital artifacts – is increasingly challenging.
When lacking the structure of metadata or attributes necessary for application, algorithm, and machine utilization, data is not only left unused but also accumulates in high volumes. This data management approach inevitably exacerbates IT complexity and consumes valuable storage resources. And even worse, organizations need insights that cannot be found elsewhere.
A Process Excellence Network report, co-sponsored by SAP, reveals that some organizations are addressing this challenge by embracing intelligent document processing (IDP) technology. Enriched with AI capabilities, this next-generation tool is becoming a vital ally for process optimization, innovation, and delivering exceptional user experiences.
What Is Intelligent Document Processing?
Unlike traditional template-based approaches, IDP solutions employ computer vision and natural language processing to scan documents containing unstructured data, such as invoices, receipts, and contracts. The information on these documents is then extracted using a combination of robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning to help ensure accuracy and integrated into larger business systems. Finally, all this information is converted into machine-readable data and interpreted into actionable insights.
It’s essential to note that IDP goes beyond mere document reading, decoding, and translation. It also accelerates data use by improving processing accuracy and providing immediate access for humans and machines. The extracted information is contextually aligned with business rules, integrated into downstream systems like SAP S/4HANA Cloud, and applied to real-world process automation, business scenarios, and decision-making.
However, the real advantage of such streamlined, document-centric processes becomes more evident when they align with an organization’s competitive goals, stepping up decision-making speed and unlocking valuable data-driven insights.
How IDP Bridges the Gap Between Data and Knowledge
An IDC business value white paper reported that IDP solutions – such as SAP enterprise content management (ECM) solutions by OpenText – help bridge content silos and reduce frustration and time by expediting information flow while expanding governance. As a result, organizations using the technology can experience profound team productivity improvement and extensibility across the globe, making it easier to work from anywhere and at any time.
Old World Industries LLC (OWI), which sells motor oil, antifreeze, fuel additives, and other automotive chemicals in more than 60 countries, is a prime example of a business experiencing similar operational upgrades. The company implemented the SAP Invoice Management application by OpenText as part of the SAP ECM solutions by OpenText portfolio to bring the speed that customers associate with its brands to its accounts payable processes. This strategic move eliminated the roadblocks that manual processes dependent on paper and e-mail posed to OWI’s overall efficiency, especially as the workforce continued to work remotely.
By integrating SAP Invoice Management with its existing accounts payable applications, OWI advanced its journey toward finance digitalization with embedded AI technologies, such as:
- Machine learning technology that can analyze documents and bypass error-prone data-entry steps
- Character recognition capabilities to help automatically flag duplicate invoices and detect invoicing and payment errors
- A centralized point of control and access, which can provide a unified user experience across accounts payable applications for data access, analysis, collaboration, and decision-making
In addition to fast-tracking its invoicing processes, the IDP application enabled OWI’s accounts payable employees to prioritize their workload, shifting their attention from data entry to timely invoice validation and resolution. And now that detailed histories of invoices are available all in one place, the team can analyze individual vendors in a few clicks to identify opportunities and mitigate potential risks early.
Based on IDC’s survey of organizations using SAP ECM solutions by OpenText, the combined benefits of content digitalization, automation, and integration can lead to annual revenue growth of over US$7 million.
This remarkable outcome comes with an added gain of 4,794 productive hours, increasing gross business productivity by 21%. Furthermore, enhanced interdepartmental document sharing and process automation contributed to an even greater boost in profitability, with savings of $3.82 million for every set of 1 million documents.
Why the Value of IDP Technology Continues to Build
Echoing similar advantages reported by IDC, the Process Excellence Network predicts that future advancements in AI will further strengthen the fundamental value of IDP solutions. This is particularly apparent with recent innovations in generative AI, encompassing deep-learning models capable of producing text, images, videos, and diverse content.
By embracing generative AI, for example, IDP can be poised to transcend structured data extraction to generate high-quality, context-sensitive content and augment the swiftness and precision of data processing. It will soon empower large language models – such as chatbots and voice user interfaces – to yield profound, contextually rich insights that can be applied for automated decision-making and content generation.
As one survey respondent says, “The combination of IDP and generative AI will further enhance our content automation capabilities, enabling us to automate complex document generation tasks and deliver personalized and tailored experiences to our customers.”
To explore more insights about the future of intelligent document processing, read the Process Excellence Network report, “Go from Analytics to Action with AI-Powered Intelligent Document Processing,” co-sponsored by SAP and OpenText.
Bil Khan is senior director of Global Partner Marketing at SAP.