Do a search today for “hyperautomation” and you get about half a million search results on Google
It is a common buzzword across industries, and there is quite a bit of confusion on what it is, how it can benefit an organization and where it fits. This post will explore the topic, provide key focus as it applies to intelligent document processing (IDP) and provide a snapshot of what’s missing.
What is Hyperautomation?
First off, a quick level set on the definition. Hyperautomation is the methodical, business-centric approach to driving automation to every facet and depth of the organization. No task or process is too small. It involves the use of numerous technologies to make this a reality:
· Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)
· Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
· Workflow Applications
· Business Process Management (BPM) Platforms
· Integration Platforms (iPaaS)
· Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
· Process Mapping Tools
· No/Low-Code Platforms
· All other automation and event driven toolsets
Essentially, hyperautomation is taking everything from your arsenal to tackle manual, inefficient tasks and drive maximum productivity through automation. Further, hyperautomation connects your previously disparate business processes and systems to achieve seamless automation.
Hyperautomation and Documents: Building the Foundation
Documents are a constant headache for any size organization: inflows, outflows, versions, routing, approvals, exceptions, validation and more. Therefore, it is no mystery that as organizations dig deep into the tactical details of automation and hyperautomation, IDP becomes a critical component to the whole equation and a “must-have” for success. Choosing the right tool for the job can be difficult at best, as one size does not fit all companies. Here are some of the choices for organizations and end users:
· Raw OCR Providers – There are a multitude of solutions today that offer Optical Character Recognition (OCR) services in the cloud. These solutions (AWS Textract, Google Cloud Vision, etc.) can provide text-based results via APIs and can be leveraged through connectors in workflow tools, RPA platforms and iPaaS. Some of these solutions go beyond the basics and can leverage AI for invoice recognition, classification and more. They provide one piece of the IDP puzzle, and typically lack pre- and post-processing capabilities (they need to be built from scratch or in another tool).
· Platform Specific IDP – Most of the RPA toolsets provide document processing via AI or templates. These IDP “modules” are centralized to the platform, and require platform flows to take full advantage of their feature sets. They are typically limited in “out of the box” functionality and require extensive training and configuration to be successful.
· True IDP Platforms – These are focused solutions that provide extensive and complete document processing capabilities. These are split into legacy document capture platforms and modern AI-based IDP platforms. Extensive functionality and configuration allow for maximum use case support.
With most mid- to large-size organizations leveraging a wide range of hyperautomation tools, document automation tends to be spread across a multitude of solutions with widely varied IDP functionality and is typically fractured and difficult to manage, support and update. Accounting might use an IDP platform backended by iPaaS for ERP integration. Cloud operations may use a workflow tool that ties into Azure through Power Automate. Legal might use a BPM for case document ingestion. In addition, there is now a stratification of IT managed tools that require specialized resources, and “citizen developer” no/low-code platforms have created a large number of micro-automations.
So, what is the solution? How do we solve the issue of hyperautomation sprawl when it comes to document processing?
Investing in Dedicated, True IDP
Future-proofing your investment is only possible with a dedicated, true IDP platform that is centralized and available to all applications. Here are some core traits in true platforms that are necessary for success:
· A Robust and Dedicated Roadmap to IDP – To get a best-in-class solution, avoid the “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” syndrome. IDP is a broad and complex technology made up of many distinct elements that reduce errors, provide maximum Day Zero Accuracy (DZA) and are extendable for an extensive set of use cases. RPA, workflow and iPaaS solutions that try and include this functionality within their own applications typically fall short in the long run and require an extra and extensive development investment.
· Going Beyond OCR – The conversion of document images to text is a small part of any document automation workflow. Pre- and post-processing, validation, AI and exceptions processing are true science in their own right. All these additional components drive accuracy, enable the processing of difficult documents and provide a much higher ROI through added contextual data.
· Subtle Complexity – It should be completely transparent to the end user that behind the curtain, there are complex gears at work. This is typically facilitated by a user interface that is simple, easy to use and dedicated to processing documents. Building a UI for each solution can be painful and time-consuming.
· Robust APIs – Providing the plumbing for hyperautomation data and document exchange is critical, and provides a standardized document “language” across the broad range of solutions in an automation effort.
· Simplified Licensing – It shouldn’t take a rocket science degree and 20 different modules to process documents within hyperautomation. Having a known and simple per page licensing methodology with no hidden additional costs can provide better visibility into costs and ROI.
A single IDP platform to provide standardized and repeatable information to your RPA, BPM, workflow, iPaaS and other automation tools in your hyperautomation stack can provide extensive benefits and lead to faster delivery of targeted business outcomes.
About the Author
Stephen Boals is senior vice president, strategy, at Ephesoft. Boals has more than 15 years of experience in digital transformation and content management, where he has managed transformation projects for Microsoft, Freeport McMoRan and other Fortune 1000 companies, as well as the States of California and Louisiana. His broad background includes “Big 4” consulting with Ernst & Young, IT and security management, running an award-winning solutions group and various positions in sales management. He is a proud veteran and served as a Naval Flight Officer for 8.5 years. Boals graduated from the US Naval Academy with a BS in Ocean Engineering and holds an MBA from National University.
Featured image: ©Vasyl