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What is Intelligent Document Processing?

February 1st, 2024

Unstructured data sources

 

Technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have made it possible for businesses to unearth meaningful insights from unstructured documents more efficiently than ever. A growing number of modern enterprises are embracing intelligent document processing (IDP) to transform unstructured and semi-structured data into usable information.

It’s certainly a step in the right direction. Companies must take advantage of AI-powered data extraction tools to process documents efficiently. It’s faster, more cost-effective, and more scalable.

What is Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)?

Every business document has a different pattern, layout, and terminology. One vendor invoice’s “settle the invoice within 30 days” is another’s “payment is due within a month”. Even documents from the same vendor may differ in format and structure. All these files, including contracts, invoices, lease documents, and utility bills, contain unstructured data that needs to be captured, structured, cleaned, sorted, validated, and loaded to a data repository for reporting and analysis.

Intelligent document processing is a technology-driven approach that automates document processing and extraction of valuable information. Compared to document data extraction, IDP encompasses a broader set of capabilities as it combines Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to process documents. It also enables machines to understand the content, context, and meaning of data in various documents, regardless of their format or structure.

Why is Intelligent Document Processing Important?

While handling structured data is considerably straightforward, processing and analyzing unstructured data is laborious. IDP equips users with the ability to process a multitude of document types, including PDFs, spreadsheets, and Word documents, among others. IDP platforms offer a powerful solution that streamlines data extraction from these documents by eliminating the need for any manual intervention. The extracted data, when integrated, enables you to make reliable decisions and improve business efficiency.

Another reason intelligent document processing is essential is that it can be an integral part of the digital transformation journey for your business. By embracing IDP, you transition from manual and paper-based processes to automated workflows. This shift enables you to leverage the benefits of emerging technologies and drive innovation across your company.

How Does Intelligent Document Processing Work?

Intelligent document processing leverages an AI data extraction technique that identifies similarities between data through a pre-defined criterion. ML and NLP algorithms identify relevant datasets and turn them into usable data. It may include everything from names and addresses to invoice amounts and vendor profiles.

The robotic process automation technology leads to greater flexibility and scalability in document processing, with minimal to no manual intervention. As a result, enterprises can fast-track their document processing tasks.

Embrace intelligent document processing

Here are the key steps involved in intelligent document processing:

  1. Document Intake and Pre-processing: The process begins with the intake of documents, often in various formats such as scanned images, PDFs, or electronic documents. These documents are imported into intelligent document processing software or platform for pre-processing, which includes enhancing the quality and readability of documents via noise reduction and other techniques.
  2. Optical Character Recognition (OCR): OCR then converts scanned or image-based text  into machine-readable text. OCR software recognizes the characters, words, and paragraphs contained in the documents, enabling the system to interpret and analyze the text data.
  3. Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP algorithms are employed to understand the context and meaning of the extracted text. These algorithms analyze the structure, syntax, and grammar.
  4. Data Extraction and Entity Recognition: The IDP software then identifies and extracts relevant data points from the documents. This process includes pulling specific information such as names, addresses, dates, or invoice numbers. Entity recognition classifies entities like persons, organizations, or locations mentioned in the documents.
  5. Validation and Verification: Extracted data is validated and verified against trusted sources to ensure data accuracy and consistency. It can involve matching the extracted data against the data already stored in databases or verifying against predefined business rules.
  6. Integration and Workflow Automation: The extracted data is then integrated into downstream systems and workflows. IDP solutions can be combined with other software applications, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, to enable a seamless data flow throughout your organization.

As a result, enterprises can fast-track their document processing tasks. Many industries — including healthcare, finance, and legal, to name a few — are using AI data extraction to find insights as well as identify discrepancies and errors in unstructured documents.

Read

What Are the Benefits of Intelligent Document Processing?

Intelligent document processing offers several compelling benefits. The technology’s ability to extract and process data from documents offers significant benefits in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings. It also enables organizations to streamline their document-driven workflows, enabling employees to focus on more value-added tasks.

The best part about intelligent document processing is that it continually learns and improves by adapting to new document variations and requirements. Eventually, IDP makes document management less labor-intensive and more accurate.

Here are some more ways you can benefit from IDP:

Save Time and Money

Implementing intelligent document processing significantly reduces the time spent on manual document processing tasks, allowing your team members to focus on higher-value activities. They no longer need to sift through piles of documents or manually input data. Instead, they can invest their time in critical tasks, such as engaging with customers, and feel more productive.

Moreover, intelligent document processing software can yield significant cost savings for your business. By automating document processing, you also reduce the need for manual labor and mitigate expenses associated with hiring and training additional resources. The accuracy and efficiency you gain can reduce the financial risks linked to errors, such as incorrect invoicing. You can then redirect these cost savings to other strategic initiatives that further improve business growth and competitiveness.

Enhance Accuracy

Regardless of how meticulous your team is, human error can and will continue to occur. However, IDP significantly minimizes the risk of human error in document processing. Automated data extraction ensures the precise capture of information from documents and eliminates the inaccuracies that can occur during manual data entry.

Integrate Existing Systems

IDP software can integrate with existing document management systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, or other business applications. This integration enables you to leverage IDP capabilities across multiple departments and processes within your company. It also ensures a smooth flow of data and reduces manual data transfer, enhancing overall workflow efficiency.

Achieve Compliance and Security

You can leverage IDP platform to adhere to regulatory requirements and maintain audit trails. These solutions simplify compliance processes by creating a reliable digital trail that proves invaluable during audits and the enforcement of data protection regulations.

Additionally, IDP enables secure storage and access control for sensitive documents, protecting confidential information from unauthorized access or data breaches.

Unlock Scalability

Modern IDP solutions can handle large volumes of documents, making them highly scalable and adaptable to business growth and its changing needs. These solutions can easily manage increased document processing requirements without compromising efficiency as your business and its volume of documents grow.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Intelligent Document Processing Software

Structured vs unstructured

 

Choosing the right IDP solution can become easier  if you know your business needs and where to start. Here are some key factors to keep in mind to ensure you pick the intelligent document processing solution that your business needs:

Deployment Time

The faster you can extract data from the unstructured document and derive insights, the quicker you can realize cost savings. Choose an IDP solution that supports reusable templates as it allows faster document processing at scale.

Data Accuracy

AI-powered document processing solutions that don’t deliver on accuracy do more harm than good. Inaccurate and unhealthy data result in incorrect decisions, ultimately hurting your business performance. So, having data validation functionalities is imperative to ensure accurate results.

Scalability

An accurate and robust data extraction solution that can amp up your BI initiatives is imperative for positive results. Equally important is ensuring that the solution is scalable and can meet the company’s future needs. Having the ability to add more servers quickly is also a big plus. Ideally, you may look for an IDP solution with cloud connectivity to future-proof your investment.

Flexibility

An Intelligent document processing solution should be highly flexible in unstructured data extraction. Users should be able to extract relevant fields, add new fields to enrich datasets and delete existing fields to pull only helpful information to keep structured data clean and crisp.

No-code Environment

A modern AI data extraction solution should have an easy and intuitive user interface. A code-free solution is ideal because it empowers business users with a non-programming background to handle the data extraction process. The reduced IT dependency leads to increased efficiency of business processes.

Intelligent Document Processing Use Cases

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) finds applications in various industries and can be used for multiple use cases. Here are some examples:

  • Financial Services: In the financial services industry, IDP can automate the processing of loan applications, insurance claims, and financial statements. Read more about AI-powered document data extraction in finance.
  • Healthcare: IDP can be used to streamline medical records management, extracting patient data from electronic health records (EHRs), lab reports, and medical invoices. Read more.
  • Human Resources: The HR department can automate the extraction of employee information from resumes, job applications, and employee onboarding forms using intelligent document processing software.
  • Legal: Intelligent document processing automates the extraction of relevant information from contracts, agreements, and legal correspondence.
  • Supply Chain and Logistics: With IDP, supply chain departments can automate the processing of shipping documents, invoices, and customs forms, extracting relevant data such as tracking numbers, shipping details, and product information.
  • Education: IDP can be utilized to automate administrative processes in educational institutions, such as student enrollment, transcript processing, and financial aid applications.

These are only a few examples of the diverse use cases of IDP across various industries. Intelligent document processing can be leveraged in practically every department and industry to structure unstructured data efficiently and effectively.

Parting Words

When it comes to unstructured data extraction, automation isn’t an upgrade but a necessity. Almost every organization handles digital files like invoices, receipt orders, pay slips, etc. An automated processing solution makes unstructured data extraction workflows simpler, cost-effective, and more efficient.

Let Astera help you unlock the wealth of information trapped in unstructured data to stay ahead of the competition. Astera ReportMiner, our data extraction solution, simplifies and automates your routine unstructured data management tasks.

Now with AI Capture, you can easily extract data buried in unstructured documents. Powered by AI-driven technology, the latest feature allows you to extract data from PDFs via a single click and structure the unstructured data in seconds.

Once the reusable template is ready, you can use automated workflows to run unstructured data extraction on auto-pilot. This will ensure accurate and seamless document processing, reporting, and analytics across your business.

Try out ReportMiner or talk to our sales team about your requirements.

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