The world’s data is predicted to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025. But with the rise of remote working, video conferencing and hybrid workplaces in 2020, alongside increased personal internet usage, data growth has accelerated. As we continue to operate in a hyper-connected world, there is a real possibility that 175 zettabytes is too conservative of an estimate.
This raises a question for businesses who are adapting to the new normal, embracing hybrid work environments and consequently, generating more digital information than ever before: how will they manage their data? The solution lies in harnessing the power of AI in document management to revolutionise the ways in which you store, archive, process and extract business information.
Unlike conventional data processing systems, which consistently follow the same logic, AI algorithms get smarter as more data is provided and analysed. They are intended to spot trends and patterns and provide predictions. This unique ability of AI to ‘learn’ from large amounts of data enables users to manage and control vast volumes of content. This is why AI promises to transform how document management is done. For organisations adopting new document management strategies to support their hybrid workplaces, AI is the key to optimising their systems for productivity, efficiency and business growth in 2020 and beyond.
1. Automatic classification and processing
While OCR (optical character recognition) technology allows for text recognition, AI takes this a step further by being able to “read” the information on that document, classify it correctly and then automate workflows based on that classification – all at a fraction of the speed a human could.
Although the system is initially guided by a set of rules, its identification and processing capabilities continue to improve using machine learning, meaning it is able to learn from repeated exposure to documents, as well as from the actions taken by your employees on those documents.
AI in a document management system could, for example, identify invoices by recognising elements such as invoice numbers, line items and so forth, despite the fact that these elements can appear in different locations and in varied fonts and sizes depending on how a company chooses to format their invoices.
When Greenbank RSL in Queensland automated its previously manual Accounts Payable process using ABBYY FlexiCapture technology to recognise invoices, they reduced their invoice processing time by 84 percent and decreased their processing costs by 50 percent, while also increasing data accuracy and integrity.
2. Data extraction
By accurately reading information and understanding context, AI in document management can take data extraction to a whole new level – an ability that is more vital than ever as virtual collaboration and file sharing floods organisations with more and more data.
3. Document clustering
Document clustering, whereby documents are grouped by topics without prior classification, is another ability made possible by AI.
This can help organisations understand how documents relate to one another within a wider context and help them find similarities and make inferences that perhaps would not have been possible otherwise.
4. Advanced security
Security is one of the major challenges of a hybrid workplace, where numerous endpoints, networks and cloud environments must be protected. AI is another cybersecurity tool that businesses can add to their arsenal when protecting their data.
AI-powered document management systems can help to enhance security and protect customer data by detecting sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII), and flagging these documents for special handling. Automatic classification and processing also means documents aren’t left in unsecured locations while waiting to be actioned.
AI can also help enforce user access by using highly accurate and secure biometric techniques, like facial recognition, to identify employees who have permission to access that data, thereby helping to prevent unauthorised viewing or alteration of documents.
5. Data analytics
Cognitive platforms as a service (PaaS) take document management to new heights by using the data collected and applying techniques, such as machine learning, predictive analytics and data visualisation to improve decision-making and optimise business processes.
With the advent of AI, document management systems are progressing in leaps and bounds, and early adopters of the technology will be the first to reap the rewards, especially in hybrid work environments.
Building a resilient and productive hybrid work environment requires the right hardware, software and processes. Download our Smarter Workplaces Guide for a step-by-step strategy for implementing an effective hybrid work model that equips your employees to work anywhere, any time.
This article was originally published on 1 March 2018. It was modified on 25 September 2020.