From physical processing to Capture-as-a-Service in Accounts Payable.
Humanity as a race has and still does (as a majority) underestimate the computing power of a device that can fit in the palms of our hands.
An everyday example is a calculator. For many people, a calculator can be found on their smart phone, by simply opening an Application.
However, before reaching such technological heights the calculator evolutionary steps can be traced back quite clearly.
The history of the calculator, or what we know of it, began with the hand operated Abacus in Egypt in 2000 BC. The Abacus is a rectangular frame with horizontal rods. On each rod, there is a certain number of beads that can slide across. These beads represent tens, hundreds and thousands.
Introducing the slide-rule!
By the 17th Century the slide rule was an advancement of the abacus as it consisted of a sliding stick that could perform rapid multiplications by using logarithmic scales. The slide rule was still used in the eighties as a portable pocket calculator.
Mechanical devices continued to be used, became electronic devices, all increasing in their capabilities to perform tasks to the point where we are today.
The technology has changed and continues to be developed; however, the fundamentals and principles remain constant, and this is no different in the world of Accounts Payable.
The power of the calculator was and remains a primary catalyst in the developing world of Accounts Payable Solutions and has resulted in the systems and technology that are available to us daily.
With humanities desire and hunger to trade, the development of systems and devices to track cross check and verify transactions both in materials and currencies has had to keep pace with the rate at which these transactions can be calculated, and in many cases assist with these calculations.
Invoicing in the earliest of days.
Invoices have been around in various forms since about 3000 BC, indeed the earliest known writings originate from what was Mesopotamia. A receipt for clothing that had been shipped…… OK, so maybe more of a goods receipt note. As with the calculator invoicing techniques too have evolved.
The degree of ability of the human brain that must process, verify and approve these invoices at the rate they are received, to high degree today, is still a limiting factor that impacts on individuals through to the largest corporates.
It was not until the middle of the last century that advances in technology became available opening the doors to where we are today.
From manual processing to?
The manual process that started more than 5000 years ago required the functions of receiving the invoice by hand, cross checked and coded by hand, progressing in time to entered and later typed into ledgers by hand, approved by hand and finally payment made by hand with cash or the signing of a cheque.
This has and to a point continues today, with the associated impacts on quality and of course cost. Large corporate’s side stepped this hurdle with the outsourcing of these very manual task. Only for them to be carried out manually by a 3rd party. This in some cases reduced the cost, however the level of quality was rarely improved.
The Accounts Payable industry has in recent years been embracing the technologies that have evolved that benefit corporate’s, this has resulted in the realisation of the value an efficient forward-looking AP department can bring to an organisation.
OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
The introduction of OCR technology provided a powerful gateway to transform the progress of AP departments.
Remember, even this technology didn’t stand still, once we had developed tools that would offer some benefit to us, we continued to expand on this. Now we are talking about ICR (Intelligent Capture Recognition) Fundamentally, ICR is the computer translation of manually entered text characters into machine-readable characters.
The advent of the cloud
The development of the early embryos of the ‘The Cloud’ , started in the late sixties when the idea was promoted in a vision called the “Intergalactic Computer Network” in which everyone on the planet would be interconnected by way of computers, and able to access information from anywhere.
The Intergalactic Computer Network, otherwise known as the Internet, is (obviously) necessary for access to the Cloud.
By 2014, security had become the primary focus. Cloud security has become a fast-growing service, because of its importance to customers.
Cloud security has advanced significantly in the last two years, and now provides protection that includes protection from accidental deletion, theft, and data leakage comparable to traditional IT security systems.
The services offered by the Cloud are quite different, and fall into three basic categories of service:
- IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) deals with raw computing capacity
- PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) supports writing software for computer systems that need it.
- SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) provides software. This part of the Cloud is the largest and most developed. It is a program, or a suite of applications, available within the Cloud, rather than a computer’s hard drive.
The development of the cloud created the opportunity for instant scalable solutions, allowing and enabling businesses of any size from virtually any sector to make use of the technology and the opportunity to remove manual processes.
This did come at a cost, primarily to the flexibility of the solutions. However, by its very nature, to offer these benefits, the solutions were often based on 1 size fits all.
Most companies still use fax and paper capture solutions but with the improved technology in digital transformation, companies can now, and indeed should rethink their approach for collecting and digitising information.
This information is readily available through multiple sources and in multiple formats; email, pdf, and web forms are an example of such formats.
As in many other areas, the use of Cloud Services has emerged over the years and people look to embrace the benefits offered by ˝Capture as a Service˝.
The huge diversity of communication channels and formats that are available more than justify the use of services that are easy to invoke in a shared, and more productive environment that results in the elimination of manual document entry.
Such a solution enables intelligent learning to be rapidly optimised within the Accounts Payable domain, resulting in quantifiable efficiencies in the AP process that also impact positively on the environment.
ITESOFT, offers and delivers such a solution that includes AI, RPA and machine learning for future proof technology. Combining the best of the cloud and on-premise technology to offer scaleable, flexible solutions
Delivering high quality capture and processing rates, at a price that opens this technology to virtually all organisations.