October 15, 2021
A more virtual working world is putting human interaction with technology to the test. The trend toward more hybrid working is driving businesses to explore technologies that can best support a growing virtual workforce. One of these is augmented working: Combining human skill with technology to perform more tasks with greater efficiency, accuracy and speed.
Artificial intelligence demonstrates the power of augmented working
Much has been said about artificial intelligence (AI) for decades and we are now seeing it successfully used in practical settings and positively affecting traditional work activities. AI is now applied to enhancing human roles, handling office tasks by solving archaic manual issues in a better way than humans can on their own. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Applying Optical Character Recognition to digitized mail and documents
Digitized mail and document scanning systems are using AI and optical character recognition (OCR) for auto document classification and auto extraction. An example would be mortgage lenders or insurance providers processing millions of customer documents per month. The AI within the digital mail system learns to identify certain words and codes as documents are scanned, then determines which category the document should fall under. For example – an account number on a statement helps a bank identify whether the statement is a mortgage, personal loan, or savings account which then can be routed to the correct department.
Or an insurance claim number can identify whether it’s for a car, house, or life insurance policy. Anything the AI doesn’t recognize gets tagged for a manual review. Meanwhile, the AI system continues to learn over time, so if the formatting or layout of a document or letter changes or if inbound mail comes in as junk – it learns how to categorize the mail item as it is taught by the end user. The AI can also learn to review entire documents and categorize them by picking out certain words or terminology.
Of course, successfully building and programming AI to accurately disseminate documents and mail takes substantial work and maintenance. However, the goal is to cast a wide-enough net so that ultimately a less manual review with less data entry is needed leading to faster processing. Used in the right way, AI can process significant amounts of data, documentation and mail in a way that humans can’t.
Applying AI to task requests to improve workflow and productivity
Automated intake is a feature that some leading banks and law firms are using to streamline day-to-day support activities of fee earners and associates. Using AI to help assign and complete task requests, creating a chain of custody trail and improving efficiency, all starting from an email request.
The process is simple: A requester sends an email with a task that needs to be done. A bot programmed into the workflow tool automatically populates a job intake form with information it gathers from the content in the email. The bot can identify which support team the task needs to go to depending on the request and then direct it accordingly. With the additional help of robotic queue management, the bot can estimate the task duration and then match it to a team member who may have the capacity and skill required. The head of the relevant support team can choose to agree or disagree with the bot’s suggestions and re-route to an available team member accordingly. The benefits of this are that using AI and robotics can help manage team capacity, manage end user expectations of time to completion and help measure performance. Real-time data can be used from that to determine whether a team is under- or over-utilized and training is required for team members if task requests become more demanding. As with the digital mail example, the bot evolves as the team and process evolves.
When this process is applied to a global company working in different time zones, the bot can allocate tasks depending on the requestor’s location, i.e., if someone needs a presentation completed overnight then the task can be routed to a centralized team in an active time zone who can work on it during their day and have it delivered when the requestor wakes up in the morning, further improving collaboration and efficiency to create a more globally connected business.
The major impact of AI on the world of work has already begun
These are true examples of augmented working – humans and machine learning working seamlessly together to radically transform the way work is done.
Manual processes create delays and inefficiencies in getting work completed. Siloed teams can easily lead to an imbalance in resource utilization. Successfully applying the concept of augmented working creates substantial time and cost savings, while empowering the workforce to spend more time developing their skillset and less time with repetitive and time-consuming tasks. This is why automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence are crucial for financial, legal and professional services firms to thrive in today’s world of work.
To find out more about workplace of the future, download our latest report on building your technology arsenal for the hybrid workforce.
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