Automatic document processing is possible by combining two powerful technologies: NLP (Natural Language Processing) and AI (artificial intelligence). What comes out covers far more than simply generating invoices with the correct date and sequential numbers so some calls it also Intelligent document processing (IDP).

Automatic document processing – table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Which documents can you manage automatically?
  3. What can AI do with company documents?
  4. Automatic document processing – summary

Introduction

Automatic document processing primarily means saving time and relieving employees from performing tedious, repetitive tasks that require high precision. Let’s start with simply transcribing data from paper documents into customer service programs. It takes hours to shift your eyes from a black-and-white table onto a monitor screen or put paper contracts into a scanner and possibly handle ambiguities and exceptions.

However, there are many more solutions combining artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP) and intelligent document processing (IDP) or cognitive automation (CA). And their functional combination is made possible by robotic process automation (RPA), which is dedicated software capable of automating the passage of handled documents through several programs. It’s for the immense variety and expanding range of applications that automation in document handling became so popular.

Which documents can you manage automatically?

This issue concerns determining what types of documents to handle with automated systems. These include:

  • internal documents
  • outgoing documents
  • incoming documents

Internal documents are often an underestimated or even unnoticed part of a company’s work. However, you can make operating within an organization more efficient and transparent by applying automated document creation and management of internal document workflows. For example, with speech-to-text, (STT) speech recognition systems AI can generate written summaries and notes and then distribute them to meeting participants in a personalized form.

You can entrust an equally important part of the tasks to AI today i.e, the management of documents issued by the company. This option suits e-commerce particularly well. With databases, ready-made document templates, security procedures and marketing personalization of customer contact, AI-based solutions can significantly improve the performance of an online business.

However, AI can also take on the reading and processing incoming documents. This might seem like a very difficult task to automate due to the variety of documents you have to incorporate into a company’s workflow. From invoices, insurance documents and contracts to loan applications. Each of these documents has a completely different form, and on top of that may not be fully filled out or partially illegible.

Automated systems handle such issues perfectly giving rise to today’s development of image processing methods (computer vision) that combine with cognitive automation. With this combination, automation is possible even with uncertain or unstructured data. However, this involves teaching the model the right ways to respond, i.e. hiring a specialist to adapt artificial intelligence to the company’s needs.

What can AI do with company documents?

AI can manage documents in a company through:

  • reading and processing documents
  • creating and supporting the creation of documents
  • document management
Automatic document processing

Below we will focus on reading, processing and creating documents. On the other hand, we will discuss document management when we discuss BPM or Business Process Management.

Most often, the starting point for automating the processing and circulation of documents in a company is OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which is an old and proven solution for scanning and recognizing the text contained in paper documents. With increasing digitization, more and more companies are eager to opt for electronic documents. However, in many cases, legal requirements make it necessary to maintain and process paper databases. Thus, OCR is still a widely applied tool.

The next step in automatic document processing is the identification of digitized data. An important part of machine understanding of what has been scanned is distinguishing relevant from irrelevant data. That is, recognizing important information from, for example, the branding of the company that sent the document, or accidental distortions or dirt.

The recognized documents or the information draw from them are then sent to a digital database, where they can provide input for subsequent actions. This could be, for example, entering the date of a meeting in the digital calendars of those invited to a charity concert, or sending a personalized email to a customer encouraging feedback after a completed complaint process.

You can also instantly create company documents according to templates and data put into the database. Yet another intelligent approach is to support document creation by software with artificial intelligence. One of the simplest, yet most useful tools in the field of document automation is an automatic proofreader (automatic spellchecker). It can not only correct spelling and grammar but also advise on the readability of text by counting words and sentences.

Automatic document processing – summary

Automatic document processing combines solutions of artificial intelligence, natural language processing and business process optimization. Software already performs a plethora of tedious tasks quickly and precisely. However, to do so requires an understanding of the nature of the problems to be solved, as well as a good definition of the dependencies and conditions for creating, circulating and accessing company documents.

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Automatic document processing | AI in business #6 robert whitney avatar 1background

Author: Robert Whitney

JavaScript expert and instructor who coaches IT departments. His main goal is to up-level team productivity by teaching others how to effectively cooperate while coding.

AI in business:

  1. Artificial intelligence in business - Introduction
  2. Threats and opportunities of AI in business (part 1)
  3. Threats and opportunities of AI in business (part 2)
  4. AI applications in business - overview
  5. What is NLP, or natural language processing in business
  6. Automatic document processing
  7. AI and social media – what do they say about us?