Whether business to business, customer to company, or government to citizen, forms—like applications, claims, shipping records, tax ID documents, customer surveys, voting ballots, and more—have become an integral and inevitable part of our everyday life.
So why haven’t software companies perfected forms processing? Despite the availability of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology for decades, perfect outputs from forms remain elusive, regardless of the data extraction tools used.
In a recent webinar, ScaleHub’s Peter Mueller, VP of Partnerships US, and Susanne Richter-Wills, VP of Partnerships EMEA, discussed the current gaps in automation when it comes to forms processing and how ScaleHub’s collective intelligence solution utilizes the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and human intelligence (HI) to streamline data extraction with speed, accuracy, and in a way that ensures compliance with data privacy regulations.
The IDP automation gap
OCR had its day to shine. While still useful, this technology often falls short in capturing and extracting data from forms due to various quality issues. Factors such as poor image quality from mobile uploads, damaged paper scans or photocopies, faxes, and low-DPI (also known as low resolution) scanner settings pose significant challenges for OCR or traditional capture technologies.
Additionally, specialized content within forms, including handwriting, tables, nested tables, optical mark recognition (OMR) boxes, and customized formatting, further complicate automation. Then there are the hard-to-read elements: watermarks, notary stamps, logos, or customized formatting like highlighted fields or color gradients. These all add complexity to processing. Even structured forms, especially when the layout varies over time, can be difficult and time-consuming as software configurations must be adapted to properly automate.
Unfortunately, the task of verifying any exceptions in forms data processing often falls back on internal teams and creates bottlenecks in what should be a straight-through processing scenario. Instead of dedicating their focus to higher-level tasks, team members are forced to correct OCR’s mistakes, costing companies time, money, and the sanity of their employees.
AI + HI = 100% automated form processing
Instead of relying solely on a conventional OCR solution, you can optimize your forms processing in a way that allows for 100% automation, with guaranteed accuracy rates of more than 99%—and without demanding your employees’ time and attention.
ScaleHub’s collective intelligence solution for forms processing connects AI to HI (in our case: an almost infinitely scalable global crowd network) to solve this challenge. The solution initially utilizes computer vision to assess any documents with quality issues—drastically reducing the occurrence of exceptions, like unreadable or incomplete forms, later in the process. Then, AI automatically classifies the document, extracts the relevant data and creates decontextualized snippets that can be safely delivered to any number of crowd contributors (over 2.3 million) for data entry and validation.
Why collective intelligence works for forms processing
Implementing a collective intelligence solution brings several benefits into document processing:
- It enables better and faster decision-making by tapping into any kind of form data—even abstracts, freeform text, or handwritten data.
- Organizations can reduce costs, cycle times, and increase capacity with near-real-time actionable data.
- The ability to process a full form efficiently and send accurate data in the right direction can also help to improve customer service, leading to increased customer satisfaction, retention, and acquisition.
- And last but not least, organizations can both enhance employee satisfaction and productivity by not burdening them with tedious data entry and validation tasks.
ScaleHub’s collective intelligence solution also ensures data privacy throughout the process. For example, providing only snippets to the crowd and scrambling highly sensitive information, helps organizations maintain full compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and ISO27001. Additionally, any managed service should include a built-in audit trail for comprehensive accountability.
Success story: Community Brands
One success story that exemplifies the power of ScaleHub’s collective intelligence solution comes from Community Brands’ Financial Aid Division. Community Brands receives 1-1.5 million documents from families applying for financial aid, including numerous tax forms and documents. Previous attempts using OCR technology resulted in inefficiencies, lengthy exception queues and automation gaps. It was taking the organization more than two weeks to process applications.
With ScaleHub’s solution, Community Brands was able to achieve near 100% automation, as the managed service classifies documents using AI and human-in-the-loop processes to return results in under an hour. This means the full application process is now completed in less than two days.
The best part? Community Brands’ clients love the extra layer of personal information security that exists as the managed service breaks down and de-contextualizes the sensitive information when processing.
Watch our webinar: how to streamline data extraction
“It’s almost overwhelming at times the forms that we work across,” says Community Brands’ Director of Financial Aid, Craig Dodson. “That’s what initially encouraged us to look for a new solution to that, right? Because the speed in operation was always being stressed… [with ScaleHub] we were able to streamline what was normally a seven-to-ten day process and move that down to a 48-hour process.”
Watch the complete webinar below to see the positive impact collective intelligence has made on Community Brands’ business and their overall team–and how ScaleHub’s solution can help your organization to streamline data extraction and forms processing.