Data Action Layer January 14, 2022

The Anatomy of Intelligent Data Workflow Automation

by Patrick Vergara

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Unstructured data makes up more than 80% of enterprise data and is growing at a rate of 55% to 65% every year. Until recently, making sense of this massive amount of data required specialists in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), immense amounts of computing and storage, difficult-to-master tools, and some heavy manual lifting from process owners. As a result, businesses have been leaving vast amounts of value on the table in the form of unanalyzed data. 

But there are new solutions that help you overcome many of the challenges by creating automated workflows that take data from a wide variety of sources and formats—both structured and unstructured—cleanse and format it before feeding it into business-critical applications and processes. These intelligent document processing (IDP) and workflow automation solutions offer time and money savings, eliminate the inevitable errors that occur during manual processing, and (finally) enable businesses to derive full value from their troves of instrumental data. 

To fully appreciate the magnitude of these solutions, we have broken down the steps to showcase how automation delivers impact at every stage of the process—turning legacy workflows into intelligent data workflows that actually flow.

Sourcing: Data is everywhere

The first step in a workflow is obtaining the data. However, the constantly expanding data source options have turned data accessibility into a daunting task. Critical information can be located in mailed paper-based documents (passports, drivers’ licenses) that need to be converted into digital form to get into the system, attached as PDF files in an email, or entered into a system via an online fill form—just to name a few examples.

A good workflow automation solution can take over the collection of raw data across the various channels and surface it in one location, making manual multi-window approaches obsolete.

Merging: 100% traceability

Speaking of “location,” all the data needs to be collected in a single, centralized repository to enable reliable auditing and accurate reporting. This becomes problematic if the source format is not suitable for a centralized repository. For example, a piece of information delivered in an email body or as an attachment becomes virtually impossible to locate if you’re processing a lot of data on a daily basis.

This is where intelligent workflow automation shines. When these solutions collect and centralize the data, they not only provide detailed information on the origin of the data—such as data source, time the information was obtained, and more—but they also enable a user to quickly search by any data point and trace it to its origin.

Extracting: Let’s get to the point

Within each data source, your business-critical information is surrounded by irrelevant details not required for your process. Automated workflow solutions can locate, categorize, and pull any user-specified details and even surface missing or incorrect information by leveraging AI technologies, such as natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, and machine learning (ML). This cost-saving step allows your business to collect more data while maintaining your current resources.

Normalizing: Bring in order

To ensure that data is ready for reporting, further processing, or decision making, it must be standardized. This means taking all of the extracted information and reformatting and reorganizing it into a uniform structure. Even data experts have argued that a dataset is virtually useless unless it is formatted in a standard and predictable way. 

Considering the volume of data generated every day, and much of it is unstructured, offloading the data transformation actions to a workflow automation solution simply makes sense. Especially when this clean data can then be automatically sent to business applications such as SAP, SQL Server, Oracle, or Tableau in formats such as JSON or XML to trigger process completions. Automating this step enables your organization to get to value sooner while avoiding costly manual copy-paste-edit errors that tend to occur during this stage.

Enjoy the benefits of intelligent data workflows 

Accelerate operations. The faster you’re able to feed clean, high-quality data into your business-critical systems, the faster and more efficiently your business will hum along.

Improve client experiences. Onboarding new customers and delivering reports and analyses to existing customers faster will enhance their experiences and build loyalty. 

Get value from all your data. Applying automation to your data workflows allows you to receive a higher ROI on your investment.

Say goodbye to manual work. Finally, free up your employees for higher-value, more strategic work by eliminating manual data entry.

Today’s workflow automation solutions are more cost-effective and easier to deploy than ever. So tap into your data goldmine by trying our user-friendly, AI-powered solution for free.

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