Act fast. Help people. Execute accurately. We can all relate to these common goals whether in financial services or government. And never has this been more true than in 2020, which has brought with it sky-high volumes of loan applications, unemployment claims, refinancing, retirement account withdrawals and other requests. The problem is that processing these requests is still very paper-based, error-prone and slow, particularly because it requires a lot of human effort, a resource that is incredibly strained today. So when a lender sees a surge in refinancing applications because rates are low, or when new regulation is imposed that requires civilians to update their passports at the nearest Secretary of State, outdated, manual operations simply can’t keep up with unexpected peak times. And this is particularly devastating for individuals and small businesses who are relying on timely assistance to get through the current crisis.
Some organizations are reconsidering how to operate in light of current peak times, spurred in part by the Coronavirus, and are examining legacy processes and outdated systems that are collapsing under the weight of this new normal. Business continuity, human resources, and mission-critical have taken on new meaning in the current pandemic, and firms that have invested in AI and automation are using these investments to support their new remote workforce, handle an influx of documents and continue to operate.
Others are strongly considering automation, as they grapple with reduced productivity, overburdened legacy systems and the need to find new efficiencies to support and serve their customers and constituents, particularly when faced with record numbers of claims.
And automation could be the answer to managing these peak times – now and into the future. Let’s take a look at the processes that could benefit from automation using Intelligent Document Processing.
This year, banks, lenders and government agencies will reap the greatest benefits from automation.
The current deluge of documents has heightened the ongoing challenge organizations face around processing: extracting data from diverse customer forms and getting it into the correct system of record. These organizations are known for still using a lot of paper, which makes them prime candidates for automation. On Friday, April 3rd, for example, banks participating in the government’s SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) started processing loan applications for small businesses and sole proprietors. In fact, according to the NY Times, “by 9 a.m. on Friday, banks had already processed 700 loans totaling $2.5 million for small businesses… And by evening it was $3.2 billion in loans…” And this doesn’t even account for self-employed and independent contractors or other financial aid like the Emergency Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and grants that will extend through June 30th – or longer.
Other processes the financial services industry manages are being inundated today, many of which are ripe for automation (at least partially):
- Early withdrawals from retirement accounts, like 401(k) and IRAs. The 10% penalty for early withdrawals has been waived in response to the current crisis.
- Refinancing applications. The number of these applications soared even before the pandemic, and it could continue to be the case given the low interest rate environment (although some lenders have increased rates due to the sheer volume of applications).
- Loan forbearance in mortgages. The CARES Act postulated that mortgage borrowers with federally-backed loans can seek forbearance for up to six months.
State government operations are also being stretched thin in response to record unemployment claims during this time. And while many states use online applications to process these claims, some states require citizens to submit their applications via paper because their legacy systems are so overwhelmed. Additionally, once reopened, closed government offices, like the DMV field offices, will be inundated with requests for the issuance of REAL IDs, whose deadline has been extended to October 1, 2021, and for everyday services like driver’s licenses and more.
These are just a couple of the processes heavily impacted by the crisis this year.
Cutting through the crisis: How automation can help operations thrive
In times of crisis when there is a surge in volume, limited human resources, and pressure to work fast and accurately, there’s little time to talk about optimization. But there’s also tremendous urgency and opportunity to take a hard look at existing processes and determine how to set your workforce – and business – up for long-term success. We can, for example, consider automation solutions for eliminating manual burden, reducing errors, and scaling to handle wildly-variable document volumes. We can also reduce our reliance on people for tackling the mundane, repetitive tasks and free them up to focus on higher level, customer- or business-focused initiatives. (We should also consider that our new normal when we get back to our offices may mean a subset of people always working from home.)
What can your organization do right now? Consider these general practices for managing peak times:
- Identify the problem – where are you feeling the most pain right now? What you can measure you can’t manage, so take this opportunity to quantify the root challenge.
- Evaluate processes end-to-end to make sure you’re prioritizing what’s most important. To this point, focus on your customers. Trace front-line customer interactions through your organization to the back office where information gathering and dissemination begins. How can automation improve response times and overall CX?
- Prioritize your most valuable resource – your employees. How can you set them up for success and select tools, or build efficient human and machine workflows, that minimize manual work and maximize human potential?
Intelligent Document Processing can automate the critical first step of data entry that makes all downstream systems flow, setting your back offices – and organizations – up for the next unexpected event.
Intelligent Document Processing automates the processing of documents. Specifically, according to Everest Group’s IDP PEAK Matrix 2020 Report, Intelligent Document Processing refers to “any software product or solution that captures data from documents (e.g., email, text, PDF, and scanned documents), categorizes, and extracts relevant data for further processing using AI technologies such as computer vision, OCR, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and machine/deep learning. These solutions are typically non-invasive and can be integrated with internal applications, systems, and other automation platforms.”
Generally, organizations invest in these types of solutions when they have processes that require high volumes of paper or forms to be processed. IDP solutions promise to:
- Reduce costs associated with manual data keying
- Increase throughput of documents for better and faster customer service
- Minimize errors that come from manual data entry or legacy OCR solutions
At Hyperscience, we work with Global 2000 financial services and government agencies to automate their document processing using a unique and proprietary approach to IDP. We’ve built our own neural networks for document processing that knows when to involve humans, and that gets better and more accurate over time. It’s ML-driven document processing!