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The Bots Have Arrived (What’s New?)

In this special guest feature, Karl Chan, President and Chief Technology Officer at Laserfiche, believes that as the sheer amount of data continues to rise, humans alone will not be able to meet the challenge of managing and processing it. Chan is an expert in aligning technology with business goals, and oversees every aspect of product development. Under his leadership, Laserfiche software evolved from a document management system to a full suite of content management, automation and analytics solutions. Chan holds the belief that all IT initiatives should increase the company’s capabilities to deliver innovation to both internal and external customers. In 2015, Chan received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Data is the new currency. Organizations large and small create vast troves of information every day, however, only the best know how to squeeze the most value out of their data. Now more than ever, organizations are struggling to manage the massive amounts of data created from their operations. New data streams such as those from social media and video streaming platforms are contributing to a deluge of terabytes for data centers to collect and process, thereby putting increased pressure on already-stretched teams.

At the same time, the way that we collect, manage and use data is becoming more and more important. To be a successful enterprise in today’s world, CIOs and their teams are responsible for finding ways to efficiently manage data growth and allow for insights to be unlocked and deployed in operations. Those insights are key for businesses—not only for increasing efficiencies and boosting productivity, but for ensuring that they are delivering the best possible customer experience, and maintaining relevancy and competitiveness in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

As the sheer amount of data continues to rise, humans alone will not be able to meet the challenge of managing and processing it. Bots, already widely deployed for everything from customer service requests to medical operations, are the solution for today’s organizations that need to collect data from multiple, disparate sources, manage and process it, and put it to use.

From Disrupter to Supporter

Bots and automation are constantly described as disruptive technology, however, their use is nothing new. Nearly all large enterprises use machines or bots of some form to collect and process data, supplement human employees’ work and accelerate activities that previously depended on repetitive, time-consuming manual tasks. 

Enterprises whose business is selling jet engines, for example, have pioneered the use of the internet of things, using sensors to take readings on engine performance. This data is sent to the company, which can use it to recognize maintenance issues, boost productivity, improve their products and services, and even make predictions that inform business strategy.

The construction industry, too, has seen significant changes in the way business is done, thanks to drones. Instead of conducting error-prone manual surveys, drones can be deployed to capture necessary data in a fraction of the time that it would take human workers. Additionally, drones can safely survey sites that may be dangerous to human employees.

These use cases parallel what we are seeing with content services platforms: Bots perform the time-consuming, repetitive work of data gathering from multiple sources, pulling it into a content services platform, and processing the data so we can derive insights and, ultimately, business value.

One use case that affects us all is invoice processing. Organizations receive invoices in all different formats and must file them in a repository. Rather than sorting through them by hand, the accounts payable department can use bots to classify and process invoices without human interaction.

The cumbersome three-way match—comparing the vendor’s invoice, purchase order and receiving report—can be done instantaneously. Filing can be performed without errors or additional effort. And companies can extract valuable knowledge about the volume of invoices received at any given time, help managers to assess resources, pinpoint productivity bottlenecks and identify patterns. All of these insights allow the AP department to play a larger strategic role—to go beyond simply processing payments and help to create a working capital strategy.

Unlocking the Power of Your Data

Ultimately, content services platforms will begin to deploy artificial intelligence, which will be key to processing unstructured data. As markets become increasingly competitive, AI systems will provide a new advantage by providing real-time data for more informed decision making, giving organizations the opportunity to truly personalize the customer experience.

Think about the way we watch television shows and movies with Hulu or Netflix, or even the way we look at dental hygiene with toothbrush subscriptions. These service-oriented companies depend on their ability to collect customer and product data, and extract insights from it to develop strategy, retain customers and grow.

Organizations undergoing digital transformation are at an inflection point. Today, leading businesses are not just enhanced by data—they depend on it. Data about what products or services customers purchase, when they purchase, how often, what complaints customers might have, etc.—these all should inform the organization and determine how it continuously improves the customer experience. Today, organizations must assess how they are currently managing data, and how to improve data load management.

AI systems will be able to cut through the noisy environments of unstructured data and highlight patterns and underlying trends. Organizations will look beyond automating manual, data-entry type work and, with the implementation of AI, systems will begin to provide a more in-depth analysis of operations. ML-enabled systems will also continually fine-tune automation processes with input from new data sources in an efficient manner that will seem like predicting the future.

Innovations like machine learning, sentiment analysis, and artificial intelligence will expand any particular solution’s data processing power by creating deeper communication with new, popular data channels (such as social media and real-time streaming). And with more algorithms creating more unstructured data, big data will continue to be a focal point for years to come. The advancements data and AI can offer will begin to provide organizations the ability to handle their information better and lead to more efficient operations.

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