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Beyond OCR: Cognitive Document Automation (CDA)

Capturing data from unstructured documents is one of the most time-consuming paperwork tasks still facing businesses today. Knowledge workers must access each document individually, study its content, and determine what action they must take next based on the content. Naturally, such efforts can take up many hours throughout a workweek, often requiring multiple employees dedicated to the task as part of their duties. Today, there's another option: cognitive document automation (CDA).

Simply capturing a document from a scanner on a multi-function device or via an email isn't enough. Optical character recognition might provide you with a full-text digital copy of the original, but it doesn't contribute to the workflow improvements you need most. With CDA, you can change the game and reshape the way you work. What is this technology all about?

What is CDA?

Cognitive document automation goes beyond pure OCR, but it still relies on OCR as a fundamental part of its work. More important, however, is the addition of an artificial intelligence engine that supports identifying and manipulating unstructured information. By combining CDA with RPA, it's possible to extend automation much deeper into your document processing workflows.

CDA uses AI to perform the same types of tasks that human knowledge workers would when viewing a document. It determines what type of document it's "looking" at, then uses training knowledge associated with that document type to "understand" what the next steps necessary are. Seamless handoffs of results from CDA workflows to software robots built using RPA can facilitate the rapid flow of data from point to point, enabling faster work.

Enhancing RPA With Leading CDA Solutions

Bringing CDA into your business is more straightforward than it might seem. The right partner makes a key difference in the adoption process. With Kofax solutions, businesses can rely on software developed using cutting-edge technology and with enterprise needs in mind. As a leading provider of document intelligence solutions, we have a deep understanding of these tools and how to best use them for achieving common business purposes. We've worked in development on elements of CDA that include:

  • NLP, or natural language processing. NLP provides the framework necessary for CDA tools to recognize words and to differentiate between field or data types.
  • ML, or machine learning. ML underpins AI capabilities and provides the frameworks necessary for learning from and "remembering" similar document types over time.
  • Computer vision, which equips AI with the software capabilities to process non-text sources of data, such as images or video. Computer vision aids in classifying and extracting data from these sources.

With these capabilities, we've built CDA tools that bring together the best of AI and OCR while leaving behind the latter's shortcomings.

What Makes CDA Better Than Using OCR Alone?

Optical character recognition is an important and valuable tool. However, it can only do what its programming tells it to do. Its only purpose is to recognize characters by patterns and recreate them in a digital space. Today's leading OCR solutions are excellent, but they can only produce a full-text copy of a document; OCR alone can't do much more than that.

Enter CDA, which uses NLP to recognize what a text contains. For example, CDA can recognize that a document contains an invoice or purchase order number and classify it as such. With RPA, you could then transfer that detail into another application as part of a processing workflow.

In other words, CDA effectively replicates some of the tasks performed by human workers even though they require decision-making capabilities. As with a human, CDA models can learn over time, too. As you process more documents, the model quickly comes to an understanding of variations in unstructured data. Accuracy increases with additional work, which in turn translates into more value for a business.

Real-world Use Cases for Cognitive Document Automation

Let's consider a few of the real-world scenarios in which CDA can play a key role in improving the quality of work. One of the largest use cases comes in the accounts payable department, where tasks such as invoice processing are often labor-intensive and expensive. Instead, you could train Kofax CDA to rapidly automate the work of extracting the key facts from an invoice.

It's simple to set up, too, with built-in support for recognizing many types of data on an invoice. Provide the system with a sample of one of your supplier's invoices, define the initial fields, and let the model train on the document. Every time it encounters this document in the future, extraction happens automatically.

The same process works in order fulfillment or in managing contracts with vendors. Again, simply provide a sample, train the model by identifying the important fields, and accelerate your work. With the addition of RPA that can take that extracted data and save it to the appropriate destination, employees could save hours every week.

Unlocking Advantages: The Benefits of Effective CDA

Saving time is just the beginning of the benefits that organizations can enjoy from effective CDA. Once set up and trained on the variety of documents your business handles, you can expect reliable and consistent operation well into the future. Some of the core advantages these assets provide include:

  • Less friction in critical workflows, putting the appropriate information in front of the right people sooner.
  • Reduced costs derived from savings in departments such as AP, where automation reduces cost-per-invoice and other KPIs.
  • Real-time process visibility.
  • Fewer errors that can lead to financial impacts on the business, such as missed payments or payments made in error.

Explore New and Faster Ways to Work Today

Effective automation is about much more than simply streamlining or speeding up a process. It's about improving the quality of process outcomes, too. In document-intensive workflows, the right tools for simplifying work and reducing errors can have key knock-on effects that ultimately empower others in the business to complete their work more efficiently, too.

Cognitive document automation (CDA) offers a clear path toward reducing overall operational expenses while improving the amount of quality data flowing into business systems. With a solid platform to build from and Kofax Marketplace solutions that add CDA to additional workflows, a better way of work awaits your discovery today. Learn more about CDA and start considering how you can achieve a positive ROI through better ways of doing business.

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