There’s a new industrial revolution underway thanks to rapid advances in communication and connectivity. Data acts as a crucial bridge between the two and yet much of it remains trapped in documents that vary wildly by format and design.
“There’s a big lost opportunity because a lot of data is unstructured and can’t be accessed,” Warren Billington, the Chief Executive of data company Sypht
, says. “If that could be made available to businesses they could use it to drive better decisions with their customers.”
There are few standards when it comes to the enormous number of documents that businesses and governments create and process although artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to tackle the enormous task.
A research project led by Stanford University, the AI Index 2017 Report
, recently ranked the ability of various AI systems to find the answer to specific questions where the answers were contained in a document. The graph below shows the rapid rise in accuracy against a data set of over 500 articles and 100,000 question-answer pairs.
However, the bulk of commercial software that extracts information from documents still relies on pattern recognition rather than AI to interpret and extract the data, according to Billington.
Sypht, which is part of the BPAY Group
is taking a different approach by using machine learning and natural language processing technology to extract and interpret document data in the same way that people do.
“We’re building algorithms that learn on the job and become more intelligent as we feed more data into the model.”
The early results are highly promising with Sypht producing accuracy rates at above 90 per cent – above most current commercial software applications’ claims – and at significantly faster speed.
Increasing business value
Document data extraction software has historically been used to reduce business costs. For example, an accounts payable department could use it to automatically digitise information from invoices rather than manually copying the information.
But AI-driven improvements in accuracy and speed have the potential to overhaul the entire customer experience.
Billington points to current services that compare customer utilities, such as energy, and recommend the best product. The current process requires customers to key in information manually on websites or spend up to 45-minutes talking to a call centre representative.
“You're asked to find your bill and find key information – it's not a great customer experience. What we can do is allow customers to take a photo, upload the bill, and that information is extracted really quickly so a switching offer can be made in literally seconds.”
Similarly, credit applications can be sped up by interpreting data indirectly from key documents, such as ID documents, payslips and bank statements. It can allow employees to focus on more value-adding tasks, such as customer service, rather than mundane and repetitive tasks.
“Improving the customer experience means they're more likely to convert during that sales process – that adds a new dimension. This isn't just about saving cost, it is also about generating revenue, retaining customers and building stronger experiences.
“We hear from organisations that don't necessarily want to completely replace processes to be 100 percent automated. They want to be able combine human and digital together and so do their customers."
Institutional backing steers the path forward
Sypht is one of two new ventures, alongside investment property management platform Lodge
by BPAY Group.
BPAY Group can open doors to clients, who in turn can have confidence that Sypht understands the stringent standards that apply across areas such as data and privacy.
Billington adds "it’s about access to customers, but it's also the reputation and trust of the BPAY brand that I think is going to help us navigate some of those issues much more quickly than any other competitor would have and that is a unique position."
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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