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Understanding Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)


Data is the foundation for any business, and quite pivotal to their progress as well. Among the challenges enterprises face, the biggest is the processing of high volumes of data from different sources. Human capability is what drives innovation and creation. Considering the digital era we are in, businesses continue to rely heavily on paper-based documents, most of which contain valuable information. This problem is industry agnostic, likely in large volumes, hampering digital transformation.

While extensive efforts go into API development and automating the integrations, there are quite a few processes that depend on (physical) document-based exchanges. This is visible in semi-structured and unstructured documents – leaving businesses in a lurch on how to boost efficiency, precision, and speed.  Real-world examples include KYC verifications, invoice processing, claims processing, policy administration, contracts, order forms, and other insurance paperwork, including those in Claims Management. In the ideal world, businesses would love it if all data was processed seamlessly and integrated into the existing systems without any glitches.

However, according to industry research, more than 80% of data within any organization is categorized as unstructured or ‘Dark Data’ i.e. most of it is locked in various documents flowing across different business units. These documents can be in various forms- emails, text, PDF, scanned docs, mobile captured docs, WhatsApp messages, etc.

For example, if you were to consider the “invoice processing” within an enterprise – large-sized companies will have multiple vendors generating numerous invoices which need to be processed manually – read and extract data before proceeding to clearance and payment.

All the steps involved in this business workflow can work smoothly only after the first step of manually digitizing the paper invoice, which takes time and effort, and is error-prone. Imagine how this process would be transformed with automation? The amount of time and man-hours saved and the levels of efficiency and accuracy achieved?

This is where Intelligent Document Processing could make the difference…

What is Intelligent Document Processing [IDP]?

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) is a solution that converts unstructured data locked in documents to structured data. The platform uses a combination of OCR, ICR, NLP (Natural Language Processing), and enhanced cognitive vision capabilities augmented by humans to provide an improved business experience.

IDP with its capability to process data without any human intervention is the reason why it is gaining popularity and growing in demand in large organisations.  Irrespective of the kind of documents – structured or unstructured, scanned, analysed, or processed, the bottom line is to extract relevant and meaningful information from the documents with ease. An intelligent document processing platform can help companies boost their business.

When IDP came into existence, it became visible why this would be a game-changer, and help companies stay ahead of their competition. While this holds true across industries, Insurance and Banking are known to be heavy on documentation – forms, orders, policies, customer-based communication and so on, most of which are executed by humans.

How does IDP Work?

The Intelligent Document Processing system has been created to smartly capture, recognize, classify, and extract information from across documents. Subsequently, the extracted data is sent across to the relevant document workflows for further review and processing.  Some of the technologies involved in the process are Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision (CV), and Machine Learning.

An IDP solution is broken down into three key techniques –

Pre-extraction, Extraction, and Post-Extraction.

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  1. Pre-extraction – The pre-extraction step starts with acquiring the image through various means and channels. Further, the ingested document goes through an image pre-processing engine to enhance the quality of the documents by applying techniques such as border detection, noise reduction, binarization, de-skewing, and more. When working with a set of documents that contains multiple pages, IDP can easily recognize and classify the document being processed and can also determine the start and end of the document. Moreover, the documents could be a mix of digital as well as physical. For example, a healthcare claim issuance typically includes multiple pages with documents such as policy details, hospital discharge summary, prescriptions, invoices, bank statements, ID documents, and others that need to be accurately identified and classified.
  1. Extraction – Once the document is classified, the next and most significant step in the process is to extract valuable information from the document. This step involves OCR to digitize documents and ML technologies to extract specific data. IDP solutions have a built-in set of pre-trained extraction models, which have been populated with the extraction fields that are typically used for the business. The fields could be – Name, date, address, policy number, and so on.   When the document is fed into the system, the relevant data is extracted and sent for accuracy validation checks.
  2. Post-extraction – Once data is extracted, it goes through a series of validation rules and AI-driven business rules engine to improve the extraction results. It also involves triggering a BPM process for involving a human in the loop to further manually verify or approve certain documents. The next and final step is to export the information and images of the respective databases which involves integration with ERP, CRM, or legacy systems to deliver the transformed data to the processes and systems that require it.


Benefits of Intelligent Document Processing Applications

How has Intelligent Document processing changed the way you view the business processes? With the mounting pressure to optimise resources, reduce costs, increase efficiency, and comply with the ever-changing regulations and meet/exceed customer experience, there is a definite strain on the business operations, especially ones that rely on unstructured information – documents, e-mails, and even images or videos. Adoption of IDP can bring the following benefits to your business:

IDP Implementation Across Various Industries

INSURANCE – Data collection is a crucial aspect of any business, more so in the case of insurance. The business relies heavily on manual intervention, but the flip side to this is the investment in time and cost.  IDP with its automation process will help address these challenges and achieve high levels of accuracy, compliance, and customer satisfaction.

BANKING – Unlike the earlier days, banks today have shifted to a self-service model. Customers can access information, reach out to an executive, or have their queries clarified through a mobile/web app. Similarly, onboarding, loan application processes are going through a transformation with IDP systems. All these changes ensure data captured is collated and analysed correctly and key information is extracted and stored in a secure database.

HEALTHCARE – The healthcare industry faces the biggest challenge when it comes to documentation – patient records. Ensuring they are maintained in the right order, and being able to access necessary data is the need of the hour. Digitization, and moving to a non-paper format is the only way to achieve this. With IDP, the entire industry benefits – patients and medical professionals have access to data and can update the same as and when there is a change. This helps enhance trust between the two parties and a smooth flow of business as well.

ACCOUNTING – Accounting is another area that requires an immense volume of paperwork. Invoices, contracts, receipts, and other documents are all maintained in a paper format, which takes time to process and consolidate. With the help of automation and IDP, the resources can be trained to automatically process the data from across documents, and collate the relevant information in one location.

HUMAN RESOURCES – Human Resources department in every company is invariably under a lot of pressure to complete hiring, payroll, and other processes, and so their dependency on paper-based processes is quite high. Employee hiring, onboarding, payroll processes, training, exit interviews, and process all involve paper trails which become difficult to process, and some are lost in transit. Automated HR solutions that have integrated IDP systems are a boon for the HR department as it helps optimise time, increase efficiency, and ensures no loss of data. The information gathered can be analysed by the system to provide insights to the team for promotions or training and other valuable decisions.

By integrating intelligent document processing using machine learning tools in their existing business workflows, companies can boost their internal capabilities, process efficiencies, and subsequently improve job satisfaction for their taskforce. In conclusion, IDP will play a crucial role in an organization’s Digital Transformation Journey and is going to be a sustainable solution for years to come.

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