Stalled automation continues to push up compliance costs

Editorial Type: Opinion Date: 2021-12-09 Views: 653 Tags: Document, AI, Workflow, Compliance, Covid-19, GDPR, Kofax PDF Version:
Jim Close, VP UK & EMEA at Kofax, outlines his 'Risk-Averse Executive's Guide to Better Compliance Using Intelligent Document Processing'

British government regulations are the risk-averse executive's most persistent obstacles on the road to profitability. Each time a new measure appears, unexpected twists and turns are sure to follow, yielding numerous headaches, vexing questions and amped-up anxiety along the way.

Yet given the constantly changing regulatory landscape, the desire to send red flares into the sky each time a new requirement is proposed or passed is understandable. As governmental, financial and data protection regulations increase in number and complexity, they've become more difficult and time-consuming to manage. This situation means businesses are exposed to more risk than ever before.

With each consecutive year executives are presented with new reasons to focus on risk and compliance and more cause to worry about their organisation's ability to manage it effectively.

Consider, for example, how Brexit and its messy aftermath are generating uncertainty across multiple industries and company operations. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and risk and compliance management has veered into uncharted waters populated with unprecedented hidden obstacles and challenges relating to business continuity, accountability, liability, profitability and worker and customer safety. These and other issues have forced executives to re-examine how their businesses operate.

Unfortunately, these same disruptions have also led enterprises to re-prioritise and detour from long-held plans to digitally transform their business operations. Though organisations prioritised the automation of operational workflows, many of these initiatives have effectively stalled. That means many processes that could make compliance with new regulations easier aren't yet fully automated.

Even more troubling, some remain manual and paper-based. Indeed, 51 percent of decision makers say their compliance workflows remain either partially automated or manual, according to a study from Kofax and Forrester. The outcome of this stalled approach means the associated errors and delays of "the paper game" will continue to drive up the cost of compliance.

The truth is that new regulations and requirements will only compound the standard risk factors all companies face with document governance. Today's organisations are awash in documents - project plans, internal emails, spreadsheets, contracts and more, that exist in digital and paper format. Each time an employee edits or revises one of these documents, a new version is created, raising the risk level even higher.

These documents also have a tendency to travel. They're printed, emailed and stored in shared locations, making them easier to misplace or to misuse. A form sent to the wrong printer can put sensitive customer information out into the open. It's all too easy for an employee to mistake an older, inaccurate version of a sales proposal for the current version - and inadvertently send the wrong terms to a potential client. The risk factors associated with such missteps include security and compliance exposures, lost productivity, lost time, costly errors and lost value.

It's not hard to imagine how poor document governance can lead to a business suffering material losses. This includes loss of customers, loss of employees, PR crises, compliance failures and the triggering of costly audits. Further, every minute an employee spends searching through gigabytes of data for the right document steals significant time away from the organisation. Not only does the hunt lower productivity, it also contributes to delayed decision-making or responses to customers.

When information is incomplete or out of date, it can be like trying to find your way without road signs or street lamps. The risk of making a wrong turn is higher. Executives have a greater chance of making a bad decision or a mistake in a high-stakes situation. Attorneys run the risk of entering negotiations under-prepared and reaching less desirable deal terms.

Without effective, rigorous management of all types of content across the business, organisations can't reap the full potential business value. This only becomes more difficult with each new rule added to the organisational roadmap.

Although requirements like the EU's General Data Protection Regulations and forthcoming Artificial Intelligence Act risk slowing businesses down, there are ways to accelerate compliance. When executives leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for document processing, where many of the compliance issues lurk, they supercharge document workflows and thus mitigate risk.

One of the biggest problems with regulations, new and existing, is they add time and complexity to operational workflows, thereby increasing the likelihood something will go wrong. Document processing workflows are especially susceptible due to the inevitability of human error, making manual and paper-based processes a common way for organisations to fall foul of regulators.

Intelligent document processing is becoming de rigueur for organisations to de-risk workflows and kick into high gear. A typical AI-enabled intelligent document processing platform is capable of extracting data from millions of documents in virtually any format, and it's faster and more accurate than human workers. Automation also makes it easier for organisations to verify their digital records' provenance, allowing them to satisfy the necessary legal evidentiary thresholds for compliance, such as BS10008. Mitigating this risk helps accelerate business objectives across the enterprise and helps executives sleep at night.

To keep pace with new regulatory requirements, executives need to put automation efforts back at the top of their priority lists. Adopting machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence with existing platforms will allow organisations to achieve hyper-automation, provide audit trails and compliance reporting and elevate business to the next level. Even those companies in a hybrid state of automation that already capture documents digitally need to re-evaluate processes and map out their next steps toward end-to-end intelligent automation.

Executives seeking the most reliable route to compliance can confidently follow the road to end-to-end workflow automation. Intelligent document processing consistently meets the high demands of the risk-averse, allowing them to:

  • Offer clients improved customer experience and assurance their data is treated appropriately;
  • Ensure data security with content-aware workflows and provide audit trails with a visible chain of custody;
  • Apply consistent business rules and data protection policies, including automatic redaction, watermarking and rules-based printing;
  • Increase productivity and efficiency with document workflow automation, while enriching information quality, increasing accuracy and reducing error-prone manual tasks; and
  • Leverage higher levels of security and efficiency by leveraging intelligent document workflows in the cloud.
The progressive complexity of business regulation isn't likely to reverse course. Executives who want to achieve financial goals need to drive digital transformation efforts focusing on automating information-intensive business workflows to improve efficiency while meeting compliance requirements. With document processing at the heart of many businesses, leveraging the new generation of intelligent document processing platforms keeps organisations ahead of their compliance challenges.

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