Document management about to be revolutionized

Interview with Joerg Vollmer in Intelligent automation

Intelligent automation in document management helps save costs, improves efficiency and keeps both customers and employees happy, says Jörg Vollmer, head of Swiss Post Solutions and member of the board of management of Swiss Post and an expert in this field. Read the interview with Jörg Vollmer to find out how SPS assists organizations in digitizing their documents. Interview: Marc Landis

How does Swiss Post Solutions assist organizations in digitizing their document management?

Jörg Vollmer: Every year, we digitize billions of documents for major global corporations. These companies have outsourced the automatic scanning of incoming invoices, customer correspondence, etc. to Swiss Post Solutions. We digitize these documents and extract all relevant data. To increase the efficiency of the processes, we already use semi-automated processes for data capture, indexing and archiving. There are however still a number of steps in the process that take up a lot of time and could be automated.

Everybody is talking about intelligent automation. How is SPS engaging with the topic?

Intelligent Automation or IA refers to powerful, self-learning automation solutions that go way beyond conventional robot systems. IA aims at the full automation of processes, and is about to revolutionize the business model of SPS and the operations of our clients.

We see IA as the key to much more efficient and faster document management in the near future. Intelligent automation systems might best be described as software solutions that are able to overcome barriers to automation. Such barriers exist for instance when it comes to unstructured information in e-mail messages and postal correspondence. While data can be relatively easily extracted from structured documents such as forms, conventional scanning technologies have up to now been unable to do the same with unstructured documents, hampering automation. Modern intelligent software is however able to identify and sort data, such as correspondence from customers. This means that complaints, queries, contract cancellations and similar requests can be dealt with quickly in a fully automated processes, or forwarded to the respective account manager. As IA software solutions are self-learning, they become better and better at extracting and categorizing data. This reduces stress and leads to greater job satisfaction, while the efficiency of the company gets a boost. And greater efficiency results of course in higher customer satisfaction. In addition, downstream costs are reduced, as the example of the Cooperative Group in the UK demonstrates. This long-term client of SPS has not only benefited from a huge increase in efficiency of its operations, but also made substantial savings by reducing the size of its new headquarters in Manchester by two floor levels, as all documents are now available to staff at all times at the push of a button.

Can you give us a few concrete examples where intelligent automation is in use?

SPS has already rolled out its first IA solutions in several European countries. The feedback from our clients is extremely positive, and there is a great demand for further IA services and solutions. Since last October, a major insurance company in the UK has been using our services for the handling of claims received by e-mail from its customers. The emails are now automatically processed, structured and classified in to thirty-six document groups. In France, an intelligent automation solution has been up and running since early 2016 in a trial installation at a health insurance company, managing and processing the complex correspondence and business relationships between doctors and the health insurer. Thanks to the new software, the health insurer is now able to structure and process incoming bills from medical practitioners quickly through the right channels. As there are less errors in the settlements, both parties benefit from greater efficiency and improved business relationships.

I am convinced that corporate document management is about to undergo massive changes. For the future, it is our aim to fully automate processes that are currently only semi-automated. Our current pilot projects show clearly that intelligent automation solutions are much more cost-effective than conventional approaches.

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