Intelligent Document Capture

Is Cognitive Capture the next RPA?

Few saw the potential impact that RPA would have on the market, though many practice a form of revisionism to claim that they did. The fact is that most ‘experts’ saw RPA as a flash in the pan that would have little impact on a mature, stable, and lucrative BPM market. The experts were wrong; RPA has been an incredible disruptor and, for all its shortcomings, continues to dominate the conversation today. Cognitive Capture addresses many of RPA’s weaknesses and can, in the short term, ride that RPA wave while creating its own, potentially larger waves in the future.

Taking our history lesson a step further, ten years or so ago at an event in Albuquerque, NM, I was given a hard time by a peanut throwing section of the audience. They were appalled, outraged, incensed even, that industry analysts paid so little attention to the world of document capture software. In truth, they were reasonably polite, but they demanded answers. So I told them, “Industry Analyst firms are not charities, they cover the markets that generate revenue for them, this one doesn’t…” Blunt response, but then again they started it….

Fast forward a decade and rolling into 2021, the situation is very different. Everyone from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon down to tiny startups are aggressively active, and the humble world of document capture software is suddenly in the spotlight. But…  (screech of brakes time) is the traditional world of document capture getting supplanted by something entirely new?

You can read more on our thoughts in our new Cognitive Capture report, and more reports are in the works. But in short, although OCR and even NLP technologies have been around a long time, document capture bureaus and departments are in place worldwide. The fact is that the emerging world of Cognitive Capture (our terminology, you can use your own) leverages new technology, new approaches and offers the possibility, if not the certainty, of a new market altogether. Just like RPA, Cognitive Capture has the potential to be highly disruptive.

Don’t get me wrong, the scanning department and outsourced bureau worlds are not going away any time soon; if anything, they are thriving and will continue to thrive. But advances in open-source, low code development, along with easy and cheap access to powerful Deep Learning and Computer Vision tools unshackle the traditional world of capture technology and allow newcomers and legacy firms alike to explore new possibilities. In fact, over the past year that we have been researching this area in-depth, the most common obstacle to advancing the market has not had anything to do with technology; it has been due to the difficulty of changing mindsets. The image of flatbed scanners/MFP’s and large volumes of documents prepped, collated, scanned, and stored is so embedded in the industry psyche that thinking beyond those parameters proves to be hard for many. But for others, unencumbered by history, are seeing tremendous opportunities on the horizon. 

1 thought on “Is Cognitive Capture the next RPA?”

  1. Changing mindsets! So spot on. Even after we’ve had long discussions and thorough demos of something obviously NOT (old school) OCR, the software is still referred to as “your OCR tool.” And that’s even when they are buyers! Cognitive capture solutions are indeed disruptive and I don’t see them at all as “next gen” RPA. Where I believe these solutions fit in is when organizations have been through their first iteration of RPA and the low-hanging automation tasks have been automated. During their “Gen 2” automation efforts, it will be discovered that a niche document processing tool is going to be required to finish that last mile of RPA. This is where intelligent document processing / cognitive capture / capture 2.0 will help RPA the most.

    And of course, the large capture centers and service bureaus will immediately see ROI, but all the light right now is being shed on RPA and automation. It makes sense to follow the market. Plus, yester-year’s OCR tech left a lot to be desired and many have been burned by false promises…

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