In a matter of weeks, stay-at-home guidelines and quarantine orders have left organizations of all sizes struggling to shift their processes and teams to remote operations. These changes, combined with employees' needs to juggle business and personal tasks throughout the day, have resulted in reduced productivity in many organizations.
At the same time, banks, financial services firms, and insurance companies are being inundated with applications and forms to process. Mortgage refinancing and other loan applications have surged, as people try to take advantage of new economic stimulus packages and interest rates.
As a result, most organizations are quickly realizing that outdated, legacy technology and manual processes can't keep up with this peak influx. Grappling with increased volume, hindered resources, and pressure to work fast and accurately, companies are looking for ways to operate more efficiently and effectively moving forward. This includes utilizing automation solutions to eliminate manual work, reduce errors and respond to customer requests faster, ensuring continued revenue flow in the process.
The Data Problem and Legacy Systems That Can't Keep Up
For all the focus on data, most organizations today still struggle to use it at scale. A study published by Harvard Business Review found that on average, nearly half (47%) of newly created data records have at least one critical (work-impacting) error and only 3% reached the "acceptable" range.
The consequences of unreliable and inaccurate data are severe. One incorrect digit can be the difference between a claim, mortgage or other application being approved or rejected, which can have a big impact on the lives of customers, and derail their overall satisfaction with a company.
Time lost to manual processes also has significant repercussions. According to McKinsey Global Institute, one-third of the time spent in the workplace today involves collecting and processing data – two tasks with high (60%) potential for automation.
It's also not only entry-level workers or clerks who spend time on manual entry; individuals making over $200,000 each year spend around 31% of their time on manual data entry. Within financial services, specifically, mortgage brokers spend up to 90% of their time processing applications - valuable time that could be spent servicing customers or uncovering new business opportunities.
So, why has something as fundamental as data extraction remained such a challenge?
Documents vary in layout, quality and complexity. They can contain handwriting, can be faxed, scanned or photographed by a smartphone and uploaded via a mobile application. In addition, the lack of document standardization makes it hard for legacy, rules-based technology systems to identify pages, locate the right field for extraction, and accurately extract the data. This technological shortcoming led to the unscalable process of organizations continuing to rely on humans to decipher hard-to-read words.
The good news is that advances in artificial intelligence — and machine learning, specifically — are bridging the gap between human understanding and machine processing, transforming operations in the process.
The Power of Automation
AI has enabled companies to take a smarter, streamlined approach to document processing. Whereas legacy software relies on explicit rules and rigid data inputs, machine learning models - a form of AI - train on real-world data and continue to learn in response to the data they are exposed to. With the right approach and training, these ML-enabled solutions can capture, extract and classify data from diverse document types with a high degree of accuracy, efficiency and speed. This not only enables companies to achieve time and cost savings, but also improves workforce productivity and overall customer experience.
Organizations that made the leap and invested early in AI are able to respond quickly to the changing business environment and customer needs. For example, TD Ameritrade has been able to transfer its operations - more than 10,000 employees - remotely within one week, providing flexibility as well as the ability to scale up to handle increased document volumes.
Organizations should take a look at their operations to see how they're set up to handle mission-critical processes today and into the future. By implementing best practices and relying on the intelligence of advanced technology, organizations can meet critical needs as market conditions evolve and position themselves for long-term success.