When I was the CEO of an independent document capture company (Datacap), I found it painful to listen to customers articulate why they were reluctant to bring in a specialty vendor for technology like document capture. "There is a lot of overhead in managing vendor relationships," is the way the discussion would often start. Datacap, being itself a relatively small company working with only a modest number of vendors, did not prepare me to be sympathetic to these concerns.
I would argue that it was far better for them to select the "best of breed" solution then to hang their hats on keeping the number of vendors they are working with down. Seemed obvious to me that the better technology would also be the better choice, no matter how many vendors that involved.
Sometimes that argument worked... but many times it did not help. Customers from large organizations have significant challenges, even within the confines of that organization. Sometimes Herculean efforts are required just to align the interests of different departments, notably those with operational responsibilities versus those with technical/IT responsibilities. Throw into the mix hundreds of vendors with different licensing terms, different support structures and availability, and you get the recipe for ongoing chaos.
Large financial institutions are the very model of these challenges. As banking has been transformed globally from a large set of small organizations with primarily local customers into far-reaching regional, national, and global institutions, the challenges they face in managing technology and, of course, the vendors providing that technology, are vast. What's one more vendor in the mix? It might be the straw the breaks the camel's back!
Now I understand the logic behind vendor consolidation far better - and it helps explain the success we have had in banking and finance as IBM Datacap... that we were never able to achieve when we were an independent vendor. Particularly with the Production Imaging Edition (PIE), we are offering a complete imaging packaging from capture to repository. Of course, there are other explanations as well, not the least of which is the increasingly tight integration we have established with the repository where captured documents are stored.
There's no magic number of vendors, but there is a hidden dynamic that I have learned: on the buying side of the technology equation there are constraints and considerations that legitimately have an impact on vendor selection. Have you run into those constraints? I'd like to hear your experience.
Although I have been involved in document capture for over 20 years, it was not until Datacap joined forces with IBM in 2010 that we started to meet regularly with large banks to help them address their massive mortgage processing challenges. Even given all the things that I had learned over the years about high-volume document capture, I have been surprised just how many nuances and special considerations that there are when it comes time to scan a mortgage.
Are you considering scanning and advanced document capture in your mortgage business (or are you just interested in learning more capture tricks-of-the-trade)? If so, then here's my list of the two most important ways that mortgage document capture is special:
1) Document = Batch
Most document capture applications are batch oriented. Why? Because it is almost always more efficient to scan a number of documents all at once (a "batch") versus one at a time. It is also a very useful simplification technique to reduce the number of "things" to track by grouping them into a batch, for example, if a batch consists of 50 documents, then there is a 50-to-1 reduction in 'things' to track.
There are some situations, however, where each document is its own batch. For example, this is often the case when the capture system reads from faxes. Typically each transmission is read into its own batch, and the sender is typically sending one document. Bank branch batch capture (described here) is another good example, where a customer hands over a document to a branch officer and that officer scans that document as a “batch.”
But mortgages are different. Depending on how you count documents, a mortgage packet of 200 or 250 pages may consist of 15 or 20 fairly generic document types up to 50 to 75 very specific doc types. In other words, the one meta-document, the "mortgage," is made up of many different individual documents, e.g. the loan agreement, proof of employment, liens, etc.
2) The primacy of document classification
For many years, advanced document capture was called "forms processing" because the task was to read data off of fixed forms. The archetypical application of forms processing technology was reading tax returns for government revenue departments. There may be different tax forms and schedules, but typically they had bar codes or other easy-to-identify distinguishing marks. (Read the Virginia Department of Taxation case study.)
A mortgage "document" with all its sub-documents is a completely different beast. In the packet there may be some forms with bar codes, but there are many pages that have to be "read" to figure out what they are. The biggest task - by far - when processing a mortgage is to figure out what each of the sub-documents is, and where they end and the next begins. There's no easy one-size-fits-all solution. Doing a good job requires an armory of techniques, some simple and fast like bar code recognition, and some much more sophisticated such as fingerprint matching and textual classification via content analytics.
Of course, mortgage processing shares many challenges and processing characteristics with other large-scale document capture environments. For example, demands for timeliness are high – getting the documents into the repository at the first possible moment in order to make them available for loan servicing or other parts of the organization. And there is a role – in some organizations – for remote capture in a browser or through MFPs of mortgages and/or related follow-on documents.
Mortgage processing is a bit different than many, perhaps most, document capture applications. But if you have any experience in document capture, you know that one of the enduring characteristics of capture is that it is “hard” exactly because each application is different. Even within the category of mortgage processors - e.g. originators, wholesale, correspondent – each have different needs on what document sub-types they want to identify. The knowledge and experience of one implementation can help with the next, but it is never just a matter of plugging in the same application for two different banks and expecting them to both work the same way!
I’ve been on my high horse – or more accurately, my bicycle – for a while about looking at the benefits of document capture from a different point of view: the customer’s customer, and how it affects them. I summarized these ideas in a video tribute to the Tour de France which ended in Paris yesterday… Tour de Office...
But let’s look at the details. How does document capture fit into a strategy of improving customer satisfaction, better customer retention, and acquisition? Let's think of it from the point of view of a bank and their retail customers. Banking globally is still one of those businesses where paper plays a crucial role in many customer interactions. Capturing data off of a new account application or a loan origination form is crucial to the bank's business - and doing it accurately and in a timely manner will have a big impact on customer satisfaction.
But these metrics, no matter how significant, do not tell the whole story of the way that document capture and imaging can improve a bank customer's experience. It goes beyond the simple ability to turn a document around, i.e. to process the information on it.
Take a look at this quick video from PT Bank Internasional Indonesia (also known as Maybank) in Indonesia. As a rapidly growing bank, they faced daunting obstacles in scaling up their paper processes, particularly as they surveyed the market for international expansion. Account opening, for example, was a manual, paper-based process, delaying the sharing of information between branches. The goal, for Maybank was a central repository to store documents so that branches and departments that previously faced massive hurdles in sharing information could start to do so effortlessly.
Digitizing and electronically capturing customer documents helps Maybank simplify and iterate account-opening and remittance processes, which reduces turnaround time and improves customer satisfaction. The solution also allows them to update customer records and transactions in real time and then share this information across multiple systems for accurate decision making.
In other words, a significant benefit, and one that has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, was the ability to break down some of the barriers within the bank itself. (I’ve explored this theme in an earlier blog on Smarter Commerce.)
And let's not forget that by "truncating" (scanning and destroying) the paper early in the process - at the branch - there is a huge benefit to the customer of increased security for their personal information. The loan application they fill in, instead of floating around the branch, and being sent as unencrypted paper around various bank departments, with sensitive personal information, including income and dates, now becomes an electronic document, all access to which is strictly controlled and tracked.
This is just one, real-world example illustrating some of the indirect benefits of document capture. Of course, capturing a document is really just the beginning of a process, most commonly associated with document imaging. It’s an academic question whether the true value is in the capturing or the storing (and retrieval!) of documents. The point is that when combined, capturing and imaging documents can play a central role in a customer-centric document strategy, which both improves internal processes and customer satisfaction.
Learn more about IBM’s Production Imaging Edition which features a unique bundle of document imaging and capture technologies here.
And don’t forget to follow me @CaptureGuru on Twitter!
Document capture improves customers' experience at the bank
These days customers expect their branch banking experience to be like their other retail activities - quick, efficient, and seamlessly interwoven into the smart phone-based tempo of their lives. To stay competitive, a bank must deliver a snappy, iPhone-like experience, even in the context of a walk-in customer. While walking into a bank branch is not the same thing as using an on-demand service from Google and Facebook, many bank customers, particularly the younger ones that banks are always seeking to attract, expect immediate and accurate responses to their requests.
Since documents - like loan and new account applications, signature cards, and changes of address - are central to bank operations, the ability to process those documents quickly and accurately is key to meeting today's consumer expectations. And meeting or exceeding those expectations is the route to a happy customer experience.
Here's how a European bank made their customers much happier
I've recently worked with one of our banking customers in Europe. When I first met with them a year and a half ago, they were determined to improve their customers' in-branch experience, particularly when the customer would come in for a paper document-related transaction (as opposed to simply depositing or removing money).
Before Datacap, the customer would sit with a bank officer who would review the documents for completeness, thank them, and instruct them to come back the next day. Then the officer would type content from the documents into the relevant bank system, as well as faxing or sending the physical documents to a central location.
Now the process has been revolutionized. The paper documents are still there, the customer is still sitting with the bank officer, but once the officer takes a quick look at the document, they drop them into a document scanner at their desk. Then they wait (see my blog about that wait and why it is important and a challenge!). The goal is a turn around time of around 15 seconds, but at peak times it might take a minute.
While the bank officer and the customer are having a quick chat, a lot is happening in the background:
- document images are sent from the branch to central servers
- OCR and ICR, document classification, image enhancement, data validations all take place
- the results are sent back to the branch
Then the officer can review the electronic document, sign off and complete the transaction.
Speed doesn't help if the data being capture is riddled with errors. A mistake on a loan application can be devastating - a denied loan and a potentially desperate search for alternative financing. The manual process of entering data has always been a weak link in banking transactions. Automated data extraction using optical character recognition and related techniques and technologies can reduce errors, particularly when those technologies are paired with skilled workers, such as a bank officer, who reviews the results of automated recognition.
Accuracy is improved because the software will flag problem fields for review. So the bank officer looks only at fields with suspected problems. Worse case scenario: they review every field and it takes as long as it would to do manually. Either way, accuracy is improved because you have one pass of automated data entry and one pass of review by an experienced human.
Fast and accurate transaction make for happier customers
Document capture helps make sure the customer's high expectations are speedily met, so they can leave feeling good and maybe even with some additional money in their pocket! Happier customers make for happier banks who can more easily acquire new customers more easily and retain their existing ones.
For ongoing insights follow me on Twitter @CaptureGuru.
A question and answer blog with Cengiz Satir, Program Director, IBM ECM, and Michael Green, Senior Offering Manager, IBM Case Manager as they talk about the importance of businesses having a strategy that delivers a content and case experience independent of device or platform.
The Game Changing Experience Platform for Content and Case…from IBM
Every organization today is looking for ways to improve the overall efficiency at which they operate. In the “always on” world that we live in, it should be no surprise that businesses are looking for more than just a content user interface. They are looking for a consistent content experience that enables their entire business to interact with and manage content regardless of the browser, device, or platform . Equally important is the ability for a business to seamlessly access and manage content coming from different content sources, providing them with the ability to leverage content more broadly in solutions like case management.
Michael to Cengiz:
Q. I keep hearing this term “experience platform”, can you elaborate on what the IBM ECM team is doing in and around this strategy that is being characterized as “game changing”?
A. IBM Content Navigator is both a HTML 5 content experience and a development platform that offers organizations the flexibility to use a single out-of-the box user experience to address advanced document and content operations across desktop applications such as Microsoft Office, mobile devices including phones and tablets, and of course their web browser(s) of choice. This consistent content experience is also the vehicle that delivers a platform for developing custom applications and integrating with IBM and/or third-party solutions, hence the term “experience platform ”.
Michael to Cengiz:
Q. So Cengiz, would you say that this Content Navigator experience platform is a strategy that will help businesses realize rapid adoption for both content and business specific applications like Case?
A. Again, the key here is that IBM Content Navigator is an HTML5 content experience that also includes a set of reusable components along with a consistent modeling layer. This enables the entire ECM portfolio of products and solutions, our customers, and our partners to leverage out of the box functionality, as well as to quickly build apps that service a variety of business needs. In fact, some of the new capabilities now available as part of the latest Navigator release showcase integration points around mobile with IBM Worklight, secure file transfer with IBM QuickFile and of course case management with IBM Case Manager.
Michael to Cengiz:
Q. Before you start asking me questions about the exciting Case Manager release built on top of Content Navigator, can you elaborate further on the new mobile and secure file transfer capabilities?
A. With the latest release of Content Navigator we have updated our native iOS application for iPhone and iPad. The new app will be available shortly for download from the App Store and includes some great features, like the ability to add new documents from the camera or external apps, capture documents for batch processing via IBM Datacap, create searches for content, and now enables IBM Case Manager on your mobile device. New in this release, IBM Worklight is included with Content Navigator. Worklight provides organizations with an advanced mobile application development toolkit for creating native, HTML 5, and hybrid applications for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Also shipping with Content Navigator is IBM QuickFile. This integrated secure transfer and sharing experience enables files from IBM ECM to be securely shared both inside and outside the organization by any IBM ECM user.
Cengiz to Michael.
Q. Let me turn the tables on you Michael. Can you tell me how the Content Navigator experience platform will positively impact knowledge workers using IBM Case Manager?
A. IBM Case Manager 5.2 is a mature release with a lot of new features –some of which are because it has incorporated Content Navigator as its UI framework. One of the key benefits knowledge workers will see in 5.2 is the ability to initiate real ad hoc processes using a built in tool. This will finally put the power of decision making into the hands of the decision makers, so that is a big win for knowledge workers –though not necessarily because of the incorporation of Navigator.
IBM, with its partner Adjacent Technologies, is proud to announce that an IBM Case Manager solution for the Texas Office of Attorney General (Texas OAG) was been awarded the WfMC Global Excellence Award for Case Management. The cloud based Texas OAG solution has updated the outmoded legacy system and has helped the Crime Victims Services Division (CVSD) initiate compensation claims more quickly. By accessing all the required documentation through a single interface, knowledge workers can process case work more accurately, track and assign work based on metrics. At the end of the day CVSD was able to respond to Victims of Crimes faster, more efficiently and for less cost.
The WfMC awarded IBM and Texas OAG the Award for Legal and Courts because the application perfectly exemplified the requirements for Advanced Case Management: it provided access to all the required information, both current and legacy; it employed both business rules and flexible process management; it utilized analytics to capture metrics and initiate next steps; and it provided Texas OAG knowledge workers with user interfaces tailored to exactly their needs. The Solution also allowed the CVSD to update their processes quickly without major effort from IT and with a cloud deployment, provided the ability to scale on demand without significant investment in hardware. Importantly, with the IBM Case Manager based application the Texas OAG had a solution that met all their current needs and provided technology leadership and scale to meet their future needs as well.
From an IBM point of the view, its second WfMC award is both a validation of its leadership in the Advanced Case Management space, as well proof of its momentum in the marketplace. With a growing number of satisfied customers world wide and increasing stable of validated partner applications, as well two consecutive WfMC awards, IBM Case Manager has established itself as the leader in the ACM space.
Guest Blog:Dave Perman , Sr. Product Manager - IBM
For IBM Case Manager’s design, development and offering teams, Friday, September 13th was a very good day. After a year of hard work by IBMers that span the globe, it was the day that the forth major release of the product, version 5.2, was available for worldwide download.
ICM 5.2 contains major enhancements requested by our partners and customers.
It starts with its support for the unified Content Platform Engine 5.2 that offers greater architectural simplicity in addition to performance. This platform release also included capabilities needed to support several new ICM 5.2 features.
A new ICM web based administrative client, modeled after the platform’s ACCE counterpart, makes tasks like configuration and import/export much easier and accessible right from your browser.
Case Builder also got its share of new features. From its integrated solution page designer, to a new data layout editor that lets you design rich form like views to display your case properties, to an integrated rules designer that has case property awareness, and finally to a completely rewritten task step editor that is significantly faster and easier to use. By being part of Case Builder, artifacts from these components are now included in the solution package and automatically deployed along with everything else, saving you time and many manual steps.
The final piece to the ICM 5.2 puzzle is the completely new Case Client. Now built on top of ECM’s popular Content Navigator framework, the client gains performance, visual consistency and behaviors with the other ECM apps like Content Navigator, and a bunch of new features such as Case Visualizer that gives case workers a complete view of what is happening with their cases. You can even combine other Navigator features into a single desktop along with the Case Client for those users who want quick access to each.
Customers and partners who were involved in the release’s design have praised its architectural streamlining, its enhanced customization and configuration, its alignment with a common, standards based UI framework, and its ability to empower end user to handle case style solutions faster and more efficiently.
For us on the design and development teams, we will enjoy the moment, catch a well deserved breath and then start the process all over again. For the rest of you, check out IBM.com and developerWorks for more details on IBM Case Manager 5.2. We think you will like what you see.
Guest post by David G. Caldeira, IBM Director of ECM Products and Strategy
The shift from traditional software delivery models to cloud or SaaS for some use cases has gained quite a bit of momentum over the last five years. In fact, IBM expects cloud computing to deliver $7 billion in revenue by 2015.
Traditional business applications can be complicated and expensive. Some require a team of experts to install, configure, test, run, secure, and update them. When you multiply this across dozens or hundreds of applications, it’s easy to see why even companies with the best IT departments don’t get all the applications they need.
With cloud computing, costs can be reduced pretty dramatically because you’re not managing hardware and software – the vendor does it for you. The shared infrastructure means it works like a utility: you only pay for what you need, upgrades are automatic, and scaling up or down is easy.
This week at IMPACT 2013, we’ll be demonstrating a case manager solution for SmartCloud, IBM’s enterprise-class, secure cloud technology. It’s a hosted environment for demonstration, evaluation, education, development and testing of case management solutions.
Organizations today face case management challenges that require more insight, responsiveness and collaboration. IBM Case Manager extends case management by integrating capabilities designed to help close cases efficiently with better results – in essence, to work smarter. Using enhanced and proven capabilities, advanced case management helps companies deliver better business outcomes by extracting more value out of their information -- whether that’s in a customer request, loan application, complex industry or regulatory procedure or other complex, knowledge worker-driven activities.
By automating the right processes, applying the right analysis and involving the right people, management can optimize case outcomes.
For example, UniCredit, a global banking and financial services company, wanted to take a proactive approach to crisis management and establish world-class capabilities via faster response times, a shorter decision chain, and the ability to share information with authorities and other banks. With Case Manager, UniCredit is now able to quickly simulate different scenarios of an event or combine different events in a single case from internal and external data sources. This information can be securely shared across the organization or with external parties via PC, tablet or Blackberry. As a result, the bank has been able to reduce risk, minimize liability, secure information, and capture the experience to learn and prepare for future crisis.
Tejon Ranch, the largest private landholding in California, is using Case Manager to maneuver contracts through the office more easily and ensure that insurance certificates are updated from more than 5,000 consultants. The company can also quickly react to access bonds for general use improvements and additional building projects. Management can easily track what’s been spent, maintain all supporting documents for those activities, and be ready to take advantage of the best opportunity to exercise future bonds
This latest release of Case Manager is part of IBM's overall strategy to deliver advanced case management solutions that unify information, processes and people within many industries to handle their critical business caseloads more effectively. You can see a preview of Case Manager on SmartCloud and other Smarter Content solutions in action at Booth SP-6 in the Smarter Process zone.
Guest blog by Michael Green - Offering lead, IBM Case Manager
While an understanding of how the power of content differentiates IBM Case Manager from IBM BPM is important in any discussion of the two, it is not the only differentiator. Another key feature of case management is that in case the knowledge worker or case manager is the main decision maker. As such, the ability to provide flexible process flows that emanate from the case worker and do not have a predetermined outcome is of critical importance.
In classic BPM the processes are understood as being end to end – with business rules and process parameters dictating the process flow between applications and through an organization. Out of this structure comes repeatable processes, enhanced efficiencies and faster throughput. A rules based assembly line assembly line for enhancing the productivity of knowledge works.
Case management however, defies this rational. It is has too many unrepeatable steps, too many that if they are repeatable are done so out of order, or used for some cases and not others. Mostly, it is a process that is driven not by a rules engine but by a knowledge or case worker, based on the unique specifics of the case. Certainly there can be business rules involved to handle initial triaging and scoring, and process choreography to handle the required back end updating and data collection, but the majority of decisions and task initiation in a case are made by the case workers themselves. These decisions are based on the documentation associated with the case, the policies and regulations surrounding the case type, and the case workers own understanding of what would be needed to successfully resolve the case file – to achieve a positive outcome.
To achieve the benefits of BPM in a case scenario the processes must therefore be discrete, individual and none sequential. They must be able to be chosen as needed by the case worker and include the ability to launch ad hoc process steps (usually via email sent from within the application) and include searchable comments – so that decisions are documented and kept in context. These are capabilities found in IBM Case Manager about which I will enunciate next post.
Guest post by Scott Blau, WW Director of Document Capture, IBM ECM
In the 1960s, America was riven by “the generation gap:” elders who supported government and traditional family relations vs. the boomer generation of rebels in culture and politics. With the challenges of the 1970s the split started to loose relevance, until in the 1980s the boomers were getting older and more like their parents. The generation gap just faded. Or was it just replaced by a newer gap?
In a recent conversation with a bank CIO, I learned that the bank has a paper problem, but not the one I expected. The bank had installed a scanning system to capture paper documents and turn them into images, yet had been unable to realize the dream of a “paperless office.” With a little research the CIO and his team discovered something that many organizations are now facing: there is a new generation gap, and it is all wrapped up in paper.
Although the bank has a stated policy that discourages printing documents, some loan officers continued to copy each and every loan package (even mortgage applications of 200 or more pages) for their own reference. That in spite of the fact that the loan package is next sent for central scanning and then pushed on an internal portal for reference with handy indexing by document type.
Why were some of the most experienced – and productive – loan officers doing this? At first, the bank thought that the loan officers were simply being careful – ‘I’d better make a copy just in case the document is lost during transit.” But even after the bank installed scanning software in every branch, they were still making personal copies.
After he described this puzzling trend, I told the banker that he didn’t have a technology problem; he had a dependency problem, much like alcoholism or drug addiction in his company. Only in this case, people have become addicted to paper. Forget that an electronic document has been declared just as legal as a paper document. Forget that an electronic document can be retrieved much more quickly than a paper document; that you can copy it and paste it; keep it handy on your desktop, and even annotate it and share it in seconds with a colleague halfway across the country. The problem is you can’t hold it.
Even more interesting though, is the fact that paper addiction seems to be generational. The older and more mature loan officers were the offenders. There is a cut-off – somewhere around 1984 when the post-WWII generation gap supposedly disappeared – after which anyone born has no use for paper documents. The newer generation that has grown up with computers in school - using calculators instead of slide rules, and using word processors instead of typewriters - and their relationship to a sheet of paper is different from the previous generation.
The previous generation, which I fall into, required reams of paper to get through a school day. We grew up writing term papers in either in long hand on carefully typing, and re-typing, them. We calculated algebra equations on scratch pads. When we started our professional lives, there were secretaries in typing pools, clerks whose job it was to wheel around the office delivering interoffice mail, and miles of aisles in the basement filled with file folders.
We got so used to being able to hold a document in our hands that we became dependent on it, like a 3 year old cuddling a teddy bear in bed. And now many in my generation can’t do without it.
So I suggested to the banker that she could either wait 20 years for the young generation to replace the aging paper addicts – and who knows what the next generation gap may bring – or begin an awareness campaign around the advantages of electronic documents over paper and wean people off their dependency. But the irony was not lost that – after 25 years of hearing about the paperless office, that, here it is, finally within reach, and the last obstacle is simply people being unwilling to give up the comfort ofholding a document in their hands.