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Enterprise Automation

Clearing the Air: Let’s Talk Enterprise Automation Myths and Misconceptions

Enterprise Automation

It is impossible to ignore the impact of automation across the enterprise. With benefits ranging from reduced provisioning times to fewer data entry errors, duplicate payments, and lost documents, there are countless ways for enterprise automation to make a marked difference in your organization. The enterprise is evolving, and skeptics will find themselves at a significant disadvantage if they attempt to resist automation. If you want to keep pace with your competitors, you will first need to address some of the common automation myths and misconceptions that cause business leaders to pause.

 

What Is Enterprise Automation?

Enterprise automation expands the concept of departmental or “office” automation and applies it to the enterprise at scale. It places a strong emphasis on automating all aspects of the enterprise that can benefit from faster, less error-prone, and more streamlined processes, such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Sales Orders, Human Resources, Customer Service, and more.

Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions about enterprise automation, which is largely due to the fact that this technology is capable of enhancing the enterprise in virtually endless ways. Furthermore, since no two enterprise automation projects follow the exact same rules and guidelines, the term has a tendency to defy a singular description. Lack of clarity can lead to incorrect ideas and blatantly false information, preventing you from acting in the best interest of your company. Therefore, as the premier provider of enterprise automation featuring universal compatibility with all Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and applications, we have decided to take some time to clear the air and dispel some of the most common (and problematic) myths and misconceptions preventing you from automating in 2020.

Myth: Implementing Enterprise Automation Requires a Ton of Coding Expertise

Whenever business leaders consider software-based solutions like office automation, their most common concerns are typically centered around the amount of coding that will be required to ensure solutions are seamlessly integrated and easy to maintain and update. The amount of manpower that goes into coding projects can be extensive, resulting in more billable hours than you anticipated or were led to believe during your initial consultations.

Consider this: the cost to develop a professional-grade application with custom coding for iOS can cost as much as $150,000 or more if you want a reputable, US-based vendor to take on your project — and that is just for a smartphone app.

When it comes to enterprise automation, if you can find a solution that supports no-code programming, you will be able to save a lot of money during the implementation phase as well as ongoing maintenance after your solution is deployed. You will not need to retain an expensive independent contractor or full-time employee to keep your system running smoothly. Rather, with a no-code solution, your team will be trained on how to make the necessary changes to your system whenever needed. Additionally, if you do require support from your vendor, they will be able to quickly and efficiently tweak your system to help improve operational efficiency and increase your bottom line without the exorbitant service fees associated with custom coding projects.

Myth: The Learning Curve of Enterprise Automation Creates a Chaotic Work Environment

Your business needs a competitive advantage to survive but is entrenched in processes that need to be overhauled to improve operational efficiency and save your company; how can you ensure that enterprise automation will be a good fit? More importantly, how can you be completely certain that your workflows will not be thrown into chaos? To be fair, this myth has some truth to it depending on which vendor you select to take on your project.

Too often, businesses find that the solution that seems like the best fit on paper is actually more restrictive than they were led to believe. These vendors want you to play by their rules to ensure that their solution is capable of satisfying their contractual obligations, which means your company’s best interests may become secondary to those of your vendor. This is how a “solution” becomes a problem, resulting in a chaotic work environment that ironically creates more challenges for your team.

That said, when working with the right vendor, this should not be a problem. Enterprise automation does not have to be complicated. Your solution should offer you more direct control of your workflows based on your existing procedures while integrating with your core technologies. This will result in streamlined workflows that eliminate menial tasks and give your team more time to focus on tasks that require human intervention. Best of all, the business rules applied to your workflows will mirror the exact processes already being utilized by your team, significantly reducing the learning curve of implementing new technology into your existing infrastructure. If you are currently browsing enterprise automation vendors, it is highly recommended that you confirm whether or not you can keep your existing workflows intact. This is crucial to a successful office automation implementation.

Myth: Enterprise Automation Is a Static Solution

Many organizations consider automation a purchase like any other. They assume their solution will be designed, purchased, and implemented — and that’s it. However, this could not be further from the truth. Enterprise automation is not static, and your experience with automation will extend beyond your implementation. Your project might contain multiple phases, and the scope of work could be altered several times before your solution is deployed. These course-corrections are important if you want your solution to generate ROI from Day 1 and onward.

Enterprise automation should be scalable. Whether you deploy it department by department or in one fell swoop, there will come a time when you need to pick up the phone and talk to your vendor. But how can you be sure they will be there when you call? Enterprise automation needs to evolve alongside your business, which means your selected vendor needs to be all-in on your mutual success. Our recommendation? Start with departments that are heavily reliant on paper or have the maximum ROI potential for automation, then expand your solution from there.

Myth: Enterprise Automation Focuses on Patching Up Inefficient Business Processes

When it comes to enterprise automation, your goal should not be to simply bridge the gap in workflows that are inefficient. Enterprise automation is far too robust and flexible to be utilized as a “patch.” Instead, your enterprise automation project gives you a chance to take a step back and gain a global view of your entire organization.

From here, it is easy to spot operational inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and other obstacles that prevent your business from maximizing profitability. It is even easier when your vendor takes the role of a strategic partner to help you unearth and, ultimately, address these inefficiencies. If your business is only dealing with a single issue, a point solution might be suitable; however, many businesses later discover that these simple solutions lack compatibility with future software integrations, or the scalability to meet their growth objectives. The real benefits of enterprise automation include:

  • Faster, more accurate processing across all departments
  • Instant storage and retrieval of all enterprise content
  • Superior enterprise collaboration
  • Enhanced customer service
  • Significant cost savings
  • Improved working environment
  • And more

Myth: Your Enterprise Automation Project Will Fail If Your Organizational Structure Is Overly Nuanced

Do you have an approved automation project? You want to be frank when discussing your requirements with vendors to ensure that you do not waste time with a vendor that cannot deliver. One of the best ways to separate suitable vendors from those that do not have the capabilities to help you reach your goals is by discussing your business processes and their corresponding workflows ad nauseum. Do not be shy if the way you do things is unique (or even impractical). If a vendor tells you that your organizational structure is too complex or nuanced for automation, they are not the right choice for your business.

Enterprise automation solutions exist for virtually every business in every industry, regardless of the legacy components, systems, and applications inherent to those industries. Look for a provider that has established integrations with your core ERP system, even if there is more than one. As we mentioned above, you want to work with a strategic partner who has a mutual interest in your company’s success. When you find a partner like this, no organizational structure is too complex to automate.

Myth: The Key to a Successful Enterprise Automation Implementation Is the Features of the Product Itself

Take a second to think about some of your recent purchases. What compelled you to buy? If your psychology matches most consumers, you probably weighed the features and benefits against the cost of the product to find the most feature-packed product for the price. This strategy is effective 90 percent of the time for 90 percent of purchases, but it is not a good buying strategy when shopping enterprise automation solutions.

Of course, features are important, but with enterprise automation, accessibility to a full suite of features is dependent on the success of your implementation. Most enterprise software implementations fail; not because the technology is flawed but because the team tasked with implementing the solution is not up to the task. Any vendor that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to office automation is going to find themselves at a standstill when attempting to configure their solution to the precise needs of their clients.

Selecting the right vendor and ensuring that they map their solution to your existing workflows is vital. It is easy to be won over by a robust feature set, but if you cannot use those features, what is the point? Keep in mind that features and a successful implementation are not mutually exclusive, but they are two considerations that should be weighed equally.

Myth: The Cost of Enterprise Automation Is Too Expensive to Justify the Project

Cost justification. The stage of automation where good projects go to die. In many cases, the justification is warranted by the potential for ROI but there is skepticism about whether projected models can be relied on to move forward. Let’s be clear, models help you understand how ROI will be attained, but they are less effective at giving you a precise measure of cost savings and performance improvements — this can only be accomplished by utilizing models that pull from a company’s real data.

Therefore, this myth is rather easy to dispel. When looking to justify your project, ask your selected vendors about their process for calculating ROI. Do they calculate ROI strictly in dollars saved? How do they attach a dollar amount to performance improvements? These are vital questions to ask during the research phase. When reaching out to vendors, ask if they have an ROI calculator that lets you plug in your unique business data to get a rough estimate of potential savings — but do not stop there. You should also ask how (or if) they calculate ROI during the implementation phase.

Are You Ready to Automate in 2020?

The enterprise automation buzz is everywhere. Business leaders have faced some of the greatest economic challenges in our country’s history this year, and the consensus is clear. It is time to automate in 2020 and beyond to not only stay competitive but viable as well. As digital transformation shifts the balance of power across markets, now is the time to cast skepticism to the side and embrace enterprise automation for what it is — the future of business as we know it.

Want to learn more about the benefits of our enterprise automation solutions? Contact IntelliChief today to learn how your business can leverage an Enterprise Content Management system to become faster, leaner, and more profitable.

 

4 OCR Advantages That Help Businesses Rise Above Their Competitors

OCR Advantages

Has your company implemented a plan to start its digital transformation? When you transition to Enterprise Content Management (ECM), you must also convert your paper documents into digital copies. But how do you do that? Learn more about the advantages of optical character recognition (OCR) in this article.

 

At this point, unless you work for International Paper, Kimberly-Clark, or one of the other major paper manufacturers, you should not be dealing with paper on a daily basis. Not in 2020.

When you consider the recent advancements in ECM and how it gives businesses the freedom to eliminate paper altogether, there has never been a better time to embark on your digital transformation. In your bid to streamline and optimize your enterprise, going digital is essential, and OCR software is the best way to ensure that all of your information is secure and accessible from a digital repository, even if its native format was paper.

What Is OCR Software?

OCR is a technology that recognizes printed characters. According to PC Mag, “OCR systems can recognize many different fonts, including those designed specifically for optical recognition as well as typewriter and computer-printed characters. Advanced OCR systems can recognize hand printing.”

It’s a flexible solution that can improve your business in a number of ways, which is why the benefits of OCR are universally lauded by the companies that have already integrated this technology into their day-to-day business processes.

How Does OCR Software Work?

OCR software captures the information from traditional documents and converts it to searchable data that can be recalled at the push of a button. It is important to note that OCR software is far different than a scanner. A scanner simply creates a digital replicant of a document, it cannot utilize the captured information in a purposeful way. OCR captures the document and turns it into a bitmap, which can then be analyzed using variations in dark and light pixels to guide it. These pixels are then converted into ASCII characters. Once the document has been captured, OCR software can read the individual lines and patterns that make up printed characters — even if the document is multiple pages.

OCR Benefits for Your Business

The advantages of OCR can help your business gain a distinct competitive advantage. From the moment documents are captured and digitized, your business becomes significantly more productive and cost-efficient. Here’s how OCR benefits your business:

1. Convert Paper to Searchable Data

Stop searching through cumbersome file cabinets for paper documents and eliminate the costs associated with both on-site and off-site storage. Digitize all your corporate content whether it is a paper document received in the mail, fax,  email, or something else entirely. Once your documents have been converted, a user can utilize search features to quickly find the information they are looking for without leaving their desk.

2. Eliminate Erroneous Data Entry

Data entry tasks are often time-consuming and littered with errors, and it is easy to see why. Copying information from one medium to another is hardly stimulating, so it comes as no surprise that this task is better left to OCR software. One of the main benefits of OCR software is its ability to quickly capture information. It doesn’t need to check and re-check to ensure that it has entered the information correctly — it gets it right on the first go with a very small margin of error. By preserving the integrity of the data flowing through your company, you can ensure that transactions are accurate and detrimental errors are mitigated.

3. Accelerate Document Processing Speed

Not only does OCR benefit your company’s quality of information but it also increases the rate at which this information is routed throughout workflow to complete the corresponding transaction. As we mentioned above, this starts with making the process of data entry more efficient by eliminating manual entry and digitizing information for instant recall. However, it does not stop there. Another advantage of Optical Character Recognition is scalable batch processing technologies that prevent your volume of invoices from overwhelming your processors.

4. Unlock Straight-Through Processing Capabilities

While OCR software can play an important role in helping your business become more efficient and less resource hungry, the greatest potential will be derived from the technologies that can be implemented together with OCR software to unlock straight-through processing. Straight-through processing, or “touchless processing,” allows your company to process invoices without any human intervention — unless the system flags an exception. That’s right. OCR is the key to business process automation, serving as the conduit for data to be automated in the first place. Here is an example of how it works:

Documents are automatically captured from a monitored inbox into your ERP or line of business system, giving you immediate real-time access to any information contained on those documents. Then, using a configurable workflow engine, this information is matched to the corresponding invoice and processed. If something doesn’t match, it is flagged as an exception and an employee is alerted. In some cases, exceptions are reduced by as much as 90% or more,.

Want to learn more about the advantages of OCR software? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions backed by robust capture capabilities.

 

Content Intelligence

How Content Intelligence Supports Your Company’s Digital Transformation

Content Intelligence

Digital transformation. It’s a phrase that seems to be tossed around more and more these days; however, despite its burgeoning popularity, it’s somewhat of a misnomer when examined through a critical lens. In today’s unpredictable business climate, companies don’t just need to transform, they need to evolve in order to adapt and thrive. The digital transformation sweeping the globe isn’t a passing trend, it’s the next major challenge in the survival of the fittest — and, as it turns out, the key to staying viable may be content intelligence.

What Is Digital Transformation?

Business leaders that are determined to keep up have a lot to consider as they seek solutions to assist them with their digital transformation. According to Salesforce, these technologies can be utilized to modify or replace existing “business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.”

In other words, every company’s digital transformation is unique to its own existing processes and structure. Business leaders can spend a lot of time digging through niche technologies designed for their vertical, but this isn’t always the best method. Niche solutions typically require multiple vendors and haphazard integrations. Starting with a robust, formalized solution can help streamline integration and minimize the learning curve of adapting to digital processes. So, where do you start? First, you’ll have to answer this question:

What is the one thing every business has in common?

 

Content. Documents. Information. It’s the fuel that keeps a business operational, which is why business leaders exploring options for their own digital transformation should seek a flexible solution that allows them to handle their content more intelligently. With content intelligence, businesses can adopt a solution that can be fitted to every department across their organization, making it the perfect technology to kick off your digital transformation.

Content Intelligence Tools Simplify Unstructured Data Management

Content intelligence encompasses a range of technologies designed to digitize business-critical information so it can be routed throughout an organization as efficiently as possible. Content intelligence allows a business to reduce processing times, increase fulfillment speed, and mitigate human error. Businesses benefit because their employees have far fewer manual tasks, significantly reducing the chance of missing or erroneous content.

Leading content intelligence platforms utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to read documents, capture and index information, rout it approved users, validate data across multiple related documents, and a number of other functions that help your organization manage unstructured data. The technologies that make up content intelligence tools include:

  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Machine Learning
  • Content Analytics
  • Unit of Measure Normalization
  • Universal Cross-Reference Tables
  • Mobile Capture
  • And More

Leveraging Content Intelligence for Your ERP System

Major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) providers, such as Oracle, SAP, and Infor, have grown rapidly over the last decade, culminating in Koch’s $13 billion acquisition of Infor in April 2020. A company’s ERP system plays an integral role in its day-to-day operations. Unfortunately, widespread adoption and a race to acquire third-party solutions that bridge the gap in these ERP systems’ shortcomings have made it integral for companies to seek partnerships that help them get the most out of their ERP system, such as business process automation for Accounts Payable or remote GL coding for invoices.

Regardless of which ERP system or line of business application a company relies on, a leading content intelligence solution will capture the important information from any incoming document and rout it a relevant user or into an automated workflow, depending on the software stack being utilized by the business. Any employee within the organization who has the proper permissions can then view, edit, and manage the document without leaving their desk. Companies that embrace business process automation can even eliminate approvals altogether if the matching process passes a certain confidence threshold — typically around 90 percent.

Content intelligence tools make quick work of duplicate invoices, mismatches, and other exceptions that fail to pass through your ERP system. Machine learning capabilities mean visually unique invoices, such as those sent from new customers, are quickly read, interpreted, and applied to any future invoices from the same source. In a perfect system, document routing can be automated for as many as 70 to 90 percent of documents, allowing companies to cut costs, consolidate resources, and eliminate “busy work.”

Make Informed Decisions and Gain Superior Visibility With Content Intelligence

Another benefit of content intelligence is the ability for business leaders to clearly visualize the inner workings of their business with analytics. How many invoices does your company process a month? Which employees are processing the most documents? How many documents are being held up for exception handling? How long does your process take from start to finish on average?

Businesses that can answer these questions have all the information they need to make informed decisions that protect themselves from the unexpected. Some content intelligence tools, such as IntelliChief, even provide ROI analytics to prove that they are making businesses less resource hungry and more efficient. Businesses can literally monitor ROI in real-time — a testament to the efficacy of content intelligence.

Managing Risk During Digital Transformation

Companies undergoing digital transformation are oftentimes riddled with anxiety as they modify business processes to fit the “future mold.” They conjure images of lost documents, organizational freezes, and unforeseen legal issues. Rest assured, these fears will soon be put to rest once their digital transformation is complete.

Content intelligence can bolster an existing risk management strategy by eliminating lost documents and generating a digital paper trail of all enterprise content. Plus, the superior visibility mentioned earlier means every aspect of your process is accounted for. Additionally, when the time comes to audit, having all of your documents and content available in a digital repository means your information is ready for review at all times.

The Content Intelligence Checklist

Are you ready to explore your options? There are several content intelligence platforms available on the market, but not every solution will be right for your business. Some providers are only interested in solving a single problem for an organization. Others, generally Enterprise Content Management (ECM) providers, are geared towards larger businesses that want a scalable solution for maximum ROI. Business leaders should keep this checklist on hand when researching solutions to ensure that they end up with the right content intelligence tools for their needs:

  • Does my business process a large volume of paper, documents, or content?
  • Are misfiled, missing, or lost documents hindering my processing speed?
  • Does the solution I am researching integrate with my existing ERP system(s) or line of business application(s)?
  • Does the solution support an array of different use cases?
  • Does the solution support interdepartmental connectivity?
  • Is the solution scalable?
  • Does the solution offer named licenses or concurrent licenses?
  • Does my current ERP provider recognize this solution (i.e., Oracle Gold Partner, Infor Solutions Partner, etc.)

Naturally, business leaders will be confronted with their own questions while perusing all the options available on the market — and rightfully so. Thoroughness is essential when selecting a content intelligence solution as it will serve a business for years to come, so we encourage you to take your time when performing your due diligence. If you find yourself at a crossroads, or simply want to talk to an expert about whether content intelligence is right for your business, we encourage you to contact us today.

Ready to learn more about how content intelligence can help your business thrive during digital transformation? Contact IntelliChief today to learn more about our industry-leading content intelligence tools and ECM platform.