We recently covered the ABBYY Reimagine conference where ABBYY announced version 2.0 of their new cloud-native capture product, Vantage. ABBYY recently turned 30 years old and has worked very hard to stay relevant. ABBYY’s CEO recognized the challenge they face from the enormous Platform-as-a-Service providers (Microsoft, Amazon, and Google) in the opening keynote. The latter have released OCR tools and pre-built classifiers built on the industry’s most extensive AI systems. To their credit, ABBYY is fighting back with product innovation and industry-specific use cases.
Vantage 2.0 is their low code / no code capture product designed for the citizen developer (ABBYY’s words), and it caught our interest because it employs a good bit of AI. One can easily create a new document capture process by dropping pre-built document and process skills on a canvas.
Under the hood, Vantage utilizes Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) that are pre-trained on hundreds of thousands of documents to extract visual features from a document. A Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) is used to extract semantic features of the text. While undoubtedly welcome to the large community of ABBYY users and the market at large, neither method is ground-breaking or particularly innovative. Indeed other vendors like KnowledgeLake provide similar products. Even so, this is a big step forward for ABBYY and its customers.
The AI technical innovations we liked best in the Abbyy announcements are FastML and Digital Assistants. In a private demo with us, the ABBYY team revealed that Vantage 2.0 introduces a new training system dubbed FastML, which they told us uses several Machine Learning methods to determine the right mix to use for any new document. We are advocates of that automated and intelligent approach. The Digital Assistant reminded us of an AI Chatbot. For when you upload a new document into Vantage, the Digital Assistant suggests the appropriate classifier and extraction skill match. We love to see AI used in obvious ways like this to improve productivity.
However, on reflection, we think the ABBYY Marketplace could be the best new feature of all and could do more to help ABBYY differentiate itself than any AI feature. The ABBYY Marketplace is a cloud market where one can download or upload pre-trained cognitive Skills, the name ABBYY gives to models one creates with Vantage using AI to classify and extract data. While not an AI product itself, Marketplace could be home to hundreds, if not thousands, of innovative and industry-specific document and process Skills created with AI. Such a large army of citizen Skills developers could keep ABBYY one step ahead of the horizontal and increasingly ambitious major technology platforms.