Why businesses still struggle to get the most from their data

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
Businesses are struggling to extract key information from unstructured data because of legacy IT systems and a lack of digital skills, according to a new survey.

It represents a massive lost opportunity with more than two-thirds (70%) of businesses never digitizing at least some unstructured data, which remains siloed or lost in email, printed documents and PDFs.

Warren Billington, the Chief Executive of AI-powered data capture company Sypht, says organisations are struggling to cope with rising volumes of unstructured data.

"By 2025, the rate of growth of data will be the equivalent to a new Google every four days – and 80% of that data is unstructured for enterprises," he says. "We see that as being a real challenge for organisations today in terms of being able to capture, access, use, and connect that data and those insights into their business systems and processes."

The survey found the most popular use of data capture was in accounts payable systems to process invoices, with more than two-thirds (67%) of businesses using it in some form. However, Billington said the benefits of intelligent process automation extend beyond the office, with Sypht also targeting market domain areas it labels ‘field’ and ‘team’.

For example, teams need to efficiently capture and share company policies or HR documentation to ensure collaboration. In the field, organisations such as oil and gas and utility companies produce vast numbers of paper-based compliance reports while government organisations issue infringement notices, such as traffic tickets, that can take years to process manually.

"It's a risk and compliance issue for those organisations and we've been able to address that backlog by automating that process within 3-4 weeks," Billington says.

Barriers need to be broken down
Many businesses are undergoing digital transformation (DX) journeys focused on areas such as cloud-based storage, online collaboration tools, and enterprise content management.

However, the survey found AI-based automatic classification was cited as the most-wanted aspect of DX by 55% of respondents yet only 22% said it was being delivered. There was also a wide disparity between content/text analysis capabilities: 43% wanted it but only 29% said it was being delivered.

"We see organisations where legacy systems are entrenched into existing operational workflows, which are hard to unpack," Billington says. "We also see a lot of organisations where the performance of their data capture systems isn't good enough."

Many older systems still rely on legacy software that scans data using optical character recognition technology rather than using machine learning that can improve results continuously over time. However, cloud-based technology is now making it far easier to test AI-based systems that can deliver faster, more accurate results.

Those business that can automate processes can cut operational costs while delivering growth opportunities through new data and insights, according to Billington.

"If businesses don't get this right and they continue to use legacy technology that's not performing, it will remain a significant cost and slow down to the whole digital transformation journey for customers," he says.

Economic downturn creates new DX drivers
The survey, which was conducted by IDM and included 125 participants across 25 industries, was conducted in May, just two months into the coronavirus pandemic.

The associated lockdown to contain its spread has sent the Australian economy into its biggest economic contraction since the 1930s, creating significant uncertainty for many companies.

While the survey found the vast majority of businesses (80%) are still tackling DX at an organisation-wide level, the recession may change that. It has created new pressure for businesses to quickly demonstrate a ROI, bolstering the case for a broader DX implementation.
Billington says some organisations are pulling back on long-term strategic consulting-led transformation projects because of the cost and time to value, and instead looking at smarter and faster ways they can deliver greater value and business continuity.

"One of the ways of doing that is by automating processes that are highly manual, that are driven by people. So how do you start to think about augmenting a potentially reduced workforce with automation capabilities?"

Part of the change requires acknowledging that it is now possible to trial new agile solutions and test them against existing ways of working more quickly than ever before.

"We can get a proof of concept implemented within a three-to-four-week period, which allows them to address frictions such as manual processing or inefficiency and deliver business value and ROI very quickly."

This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY. Published by BPAY Pty Ltd.  BPAY is offered by over 150 Financial Institutions. Contact your Financial Institution to see if it offers BPAY and to get the terms and conditions. This is general advice – before using BPAY please review the terms and conditions and consider whether BPAY is appropriate for your personal circumstances.

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