Podcast: Talking Intelligent Automation with RPI Partner Geoff Lilienfeld

Michael Grace, the Tech Pro Unicorn, discusses the true meaning of Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation with RPI Consultants Partner, and leader of the Enterprise Content & Business Process Automation Practice, Geoff Lilienfeld. They discuss topics such as OCR, RPA, the future of Document Imaging, Digital Workflow and Data Capture. Michael and Geoff lay out how these technologies can help you and your company take advantage of the opportunity to modernize around your ERP.

Transcript

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the TechPro Unicorn Podcast brought to you by RPI Consultants, a podcast about the magic of digital transformation through technology. Each week, we’ll cover topics related to ERP, RPA, business transformation, leadership, healthcare, and unicorns.

Michael:

All right. Welcome back to another episode of TechPro Unicorn Podcast. Today, I am joined by Geoff Lilienfeld, who is a partner at RPI. Geoff, if you could just tell the group a little bit about yourself and what you do at RPI.

Geoff Lilienfeld:

Yeah. So I manage our content and process automation practice at RPI. And so, what that means is, it is essentially the automation of business processes. We got our start in this back about 10 years ago fairly focused on content automation which warped into more content plus intelligent capture, which intelligent capture is OCRing stuff and understanding it, and as of a few years ago has again morphed into that content automation, including that intelligent capture plus robotic process automation as we see more and more companies embrace the automation of their business processes through technology.

Michael:

That’s awesome. I think a lot of people still talk about OCR. Many customers aren’t even at that point. They’re still receiving the old fashioned… Invoices is always the analogy or the example that comes to mind. Folks are still getting a lot of paper invoices, and opening the mail, and then manually keying them in. So it’s still a valid starting point even though you guys started there 10 years ago, it seems.

Geoff Lilienfeld:

Yeah. No, it’s definitely… The whole OCR stuff is a very valid starting point, especially in business when it comes to business processes like accounts payable where you just have tons and tons of documents that are flowing in. One of the things with OCR though is like anything, Michael, you just mentioned, paper invoices, is that it all still comes down to garbage in garbage out. And so, when it comes to OCR, one of the things that a lot of organizations struggle with sometimes is we get all the technology in place, but then no one contacts the vendors and says, “Hey, stop faxing me invoices. It doesn’t work. I really need you to email these to me so we have a PDF.”

Geoff Lilienfeld:

And that’s not to say that OCR can’t read a faxed invoice or a paper invoice that comes in. But at the end of the day, you are relying on a computer to try to recognize characters on a page. And so, the easier you can make it for the computer, the more successful you’re going to be. So, I just bring that up, because it’s a good example of where most of the projects that we work on. The technology is one aspect of it, but the business process has to engage that technology to really see the return.

Michael:

I love it. One of the things you said was contacting the vendors. And sometimes… And then you alluded to just fixing the process. So, many vendors now… It used to be vendors only could produce paper invoices, and they would mail them to you. And then the advent of faxing them to you was faster. And now vendors do a lot of EDI transactions, especially your larger vendors. So really thinking about how you interact with your vendor relations and your vendor partners and just calling them and saying, “Hey, what format can we get this in?” And rethinking. Especially your high volume vendors, really partnering with them to get invoices in a more easily consumable fashion. It kind of helps them too. If you get it, and you can get it in the system, theoretically, you could pay them faster. It doesn’t mean you will, but you could. But just that partnership with the vendors and then the lookup process I think are two good call-outs you just made.

Geoff Lilienfeld:

Yeah, absolutely. EDI is kind of the gold standard. That’s ideal. Generally, that’s reserved for PO invoices, though not all the time. But one thing that we see a lot of times it, and back to the business process is, we have so many clients, again, this is specific to accounts payable, where we go in and they say, okay, we receive 100,000 invoices a month. We start looking through their invoices, and we find out that they’re really receiving closer to 50,000 invoices a month, but that they also get 50,000 duplicates.

Geoff Lilienfeld:

And so, there are a lot of companies out there that may even get an EDI feed, so they get an EDI feed from their vendor coming through something like GHX. And then that vendor also emails them an invoice, and then they also drop a physical invoice in the mail. And so, it’s interesting just talking about the OCR piece, or what we refer to as intelligent capture. A lot of times, we can knock out 50% of invoice volume just by removing the duplicates upfront.

Michael:

That’s awesome. And then add to it statements, then you get the statements saying what you either did or did not pay that sometimes even get keyed in as invoices, which is interesting. Well, cool history there of all the technologies you’ve seen evolve over the years in that space. A lot of buzz out there right now around artificial intelligence and machine learning and deep cognitive thoughts and all this noise, if you will, around these technologies. The one that’s being thrown out quite a bit, companies say, “We’ll come in and we’ll do a digital transformation for you.” Can you share with the group, what is digital transformation? What are they talking about?

Geo