Adding the human touch to content automation - Image by Peace,love,happiness from Pixabay Intelligent content automation platforms will harness different forms of AI to enhance the overarching enterprise narrative about an account, or other scenario, over time. Better still, it will automatically link that knowledge to each business process in context, says SER’s Dr John Bates

The trouble with best-of-breed business ecosystems (e.g. SAP, Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow, Microsoft) is that they have created new silos. Meanwhile, a wealth of information remains hidden away in emails and other places that are hard to determine. Process automation can help highlight these locations. However, where it exists, it is only partial, and likely lacks content understanding and context.

It is no wonder that many companies do not see the returns they expected despite investing heavily in the latest technology. Huge numbers of knowledge workers still have to manually consolidate information from a multitude of different systems to do their jobs.

This isn’t the digital dream that anyone wanted. It does little to boost productivity, nor to delight customers, highlight new business opportunities, reduce risk or improve process efficiency.

Fortunately, there is a better way. It involves bringing unstructured data into the light, and linking associated insights with existing structured data, to create a holistic and ever-evolving narrative that can form the basis for more context-aware process automation.

Bringing context to bear

Future platforms or systems will understand content. They will intelligently and automatically take the appropriate actions in a complex enterprise environment, relieving the pressure on overstretched teams.

They will employ more human-like understanding and contextual memory of what that information is, what it means, and how it adds to the story. And how this knowledge could be applied in smarter ways across different use cases, expedite the next courses of action, and deliver a broader range of business benefits.

Take the example of invoice and financial management. There is immense potential for the optimum combination of AI-enabled tools to ‘read’ and make sense of incoming documents. The same tools can then intelligently trigger any next actions. All within the context of wider enterprise services like ERP, CRM, contract management, and so on.

For instance, pattern-matching AI, such as deep learning, is ideal for automatically ingesting and processing invoices to identify the document type and its constituent parts. In addition, a novel form of AI, known as ‘contextual AI’, is about recording content in context. For example, recalling how documents of that class are usually handled – rather like a human’s contextual memory.

But before companies can harness AI to full effect, they must be able to overcome content silos.

Overcoming system silos

Where a company is using SAP for ERP, Salesforce for CRM, Workday for HR, ServiceNow for customer service, and the Microsoft suite for everything in between, teams are generally unable to fully understand and address a situation or opportunity, because they can’t see the 360-degree picture across all systems.

Integration, at not just a data level – but at a content and process level, alleviates this problem. True integration can share entities such as customers and suppliers across different systems and can automate a process based on these entities.

Given the accelerating pace of change, few organisations can afford to develop their own custom apps on an enterprise content management system to enjoy tangible business outcomes. A more practical option is to ‘snap together’ pre-built but configurable content apps – which are built with next-generation content management ‘inside’. Under the covers, these content apps can communicate and ‘share wisdom’ based on contextual AI derived from their growing repository, accelerating workflow and business outcomes.

An example of this might be a healthcare application suite for onboarding patients. The suite will store information that can be readily linked to a purchase-to-pay suite for analysing invoices in Finance and order confirmations in Purchasing. In turn, this also connects with the hospital SAP system for patient billing. Another might be a customer-centric solution suite that can link and share insights on customers with Sales, Customer Service, Project Management, Finance, Legal, etc.

This offers the organisation the best of both worlds. Each specialist solution continues to do its given task well, while also contributing to the broader enterprise knowledge – enriching the 360-degree view of a customer, supplier, patient or business opportunity.

More than a sum of its parts: intelligent content automation

It’s this vision – of delivering more tangible impact and timely ROI at a functional level, while contributing to a shared higher purpose – that is driving the convergence of several adjacent technology fields.

These include the following:

  • ECM for managing content,
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) and business process management (BPM) for orchestrating processes,
  • Intelligent document processing for understanding incoming content,
  • Enterprise content integration for bridging the content silos and content automation applications.

These converging technologies all point towards intelligent content automation (ICA). This is the next, more intelligent generation of content and process automation. It combines content management, process automation and AI-powered document understanding.

Enterprises are becoming more ambitious in their process automation and content management plans. As they will look to drive next-level ROI from their latest tech investments and cross-enterprise knowledge integration, contextualisation becomes critical.

Composable, embedded, contextual AI use will drive next, more ambitious waves of content-centric process automation. This technology will have enormous potential to transform the way organisations perform.

The full paper, The Case for Intelligent Content Automation can be downloaded here.

SERSER is a leader and pioneer of the enterprise content management (ECM) and content services market. SER’s AI-powered Doxis Intelligent Content Automation platform and its solution suites for business-critical processes automate content understanding across enterprise ecosystems. Acclaimed by market analysts, SER’s cutting-edge solutions make daily work easier for more than five million users. With over 35 years of experience, SER’s dedicated team works from 22 locations around the globe.


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