In our engagements with service providers, we often come across groups that have invested in data extraction technology based around one or more OCR technologies. Some of these implementations can be quite sophisticated and have an impressive range of capabilities from document classification to handling reliable data extraction. Some even have Web-based verification workflows.
In almost all cases, these systems were designed and implemented at a time when the “lift-and-shift” model of FTE transfer was the most popular means to outsource document processing functions. As such, the idea that automation associated with these processes was essential to manage service margins and therefore it should be treated as a core competency.
Addressing Increased Complexity
However, over the past decade, more document-based data is being introduced into various business processes, outsourced or not. The result is that more complexity is introduced, from the wide variety of documents being processed to the variability of input channels and data being extracted.
Older custom systems capabilities once designed to handle a smaller number of documents are often stretched to support these new client needs or require significant additional development. Simply put, these systems often lacked in the design that is necessary to manage such a wide array of needs. Since these custom solutions focused on specific client needs, they often lack easy-to-use tools to create new document classes or extraction rules. They also lack advanced image quality technologies designed to deal with variance of documents from faxes, email, and mobile devices.
At one time, the sole solution benefit provided by BPOs was economies of scale. Today, BPO clients expect more than just cost reductions from lift-and-shift. They want to know that they are outsourcing a function to a service provider that uses advanced automation, and they want transactional pricing that focuses on efficient, high-quality data with quick turn-arounds. They would even like to transfer more knowledge-worker functions associated with document-based processes vs. simply hand-over data entry.
Delivering on Evolving Client Expectations
When it comes to where the real need is, our BPO benchmarking survey in 2017, identified that the single-biggest client expectation BPOs struggle to deliver is process analytics. Process analytics is a much-more complex and higher-value function than document automation itself. This means that BPOs must re-think what core competencies they need to develop and which ones should be trimmed.
Developing document automation technologies and attending to the management and measurement of data quality should not be one of those core activities because document automation is not a competitive advantage anymore—let alone owning the IP associated with it. Additionally, BPO staff don’t have the expertise to create custom solutions that perform as well as commercial-off-the-shelf document automation software.
While use of automation is essential, viewing it as anything other than a supporting capability for higher-value services means that focus is turned-away from your higher-margin capabilities.
To get the full research results from the 2017 study of top BPOs, download this eBook.