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Key Insights on Consumer Driven Banking in Canada

 

 

 

Key Insights on Consumer Driven Banking in Canada 2024

Key Insights on Consumer Driven Banking in Canada 2024

Blanc Labs has been a strong supporter of open banking, recognizing the multiple benefits it can bring for Canadian banking customers, as well as opportunities for innovation and competition in the financial services industry. Following the positive announcement of the Fall Economic Update in November 2023, where the federal government revealed its plan to introduce an open banking framework in 2024, Blanc Labs decided to conduct a survey in collaboration with the Canadian Lenders Association (CLA)—a not-for-profit body that represents 300 Canadian banks and fintechs—to get a better understanding of the priorities and pain points of the financial services sector related to open banking policy and to provide feedback to the Department of Finance before Budget 2024.

 

 

The survey was conducted among the Open Finance Roundtable, which is composed of fintechs, banks, card providers, consulting companies and research agencies, and received 32 responses. Here are some of the key highlights from the survey.

Blanc Labs has been a strong supporter of open banking, recognizing the multiple benefits it can bring for Canadian banking customers, as well as opportunities for innovation and competition in the financial services industry. Following the positive announcement of the Fall Economic Update in November 2023, where the federal government revealed its plan to introduce an open banking framework in 2024, Blanc Labs decided to conduct a survey in collaboration with the Canadian Lenders Association (CLA)—a not-for-profit body that represents 300 Canadian banks and fintechs—to get a better understanding of the priorities and pain points of the financial services sector related to open banking policy and to provide feedback to the Department of Finance before Budget 2024.

 

 

The survey was conducted among the Open Finance Roundtable, which is composed of fintechs, banks, card providers, consulting companies and research agencies, and received 32 responses. Here are some of the key highlights from the survey.

Insights Summary

Insights Summary

Open Banking matters to a diverse group of stakeholders

The questionnaire responses came from a broad cross section of participants showing a diversity of perspectives related to Open Banking.

The largest groups of respondents identified as FinTechs and Federally Regulated Financial Institutions.

We also heard from Commercial and Alternative Lenders, Payments Services Providers, Technology Services Providers and Consulting /Law Firms.

This group is bullish on Open Banking, and ready for it

63% were Positive to Very Positive in their reaction to Consumer Directed Banking being highlighted as a priority in the Federal Government 2023 Fall Economic Update.

87.5% believe Consumer Driven Finance/Open Banking will be Impactful or Very Impactful to their core business offerings, customer experience and growth strategy.

Just under 75% of respondents said they are strategically ready for open banking.

From a technology readiness perspective, 68% said they are Ready or Very Ready to move forward with Open Banking. This could include having adopted Open API Standards, working with an Open Banking Utility like Flinks, and building products and services that promote financial data portability.

Interested in learning more about Open Banking readiness from a technology perspective? Blanc Labs has created a free resource on Open Banking Technology Architecture.

 

Open Banking will deliver on its core promises

Benefit Banking Customers

90% believe that Open Banking will allow Canadians to have greater access to innovative products & services and help them achieve better financial outcomes.

Promote Competition

90% agree or strongly agree that consumer driven banking will enhance competition within the financial sector.

Consumer Driven Banking is bigger than Open Banking

97% of respondents said Payments Modernization is an important component to realize the positive impacts of a Consumer Driven Banking. Initiatives such as adopting Real-Time Payments and making changes to our payments landscape cannot take a backseat to Open Banking.

Fair Access and Transparency are ‘Must Haves’

Over œ of respondents said Fair Access to Financial Infrastructure is the most important factor to promote a level playing field amongst ecosystem participants.

78% feel that it is important to have regular Public Reporting on Concentration and Competition in terms of how Consumer Driven Banking initiatives get rolled out in Canada.

Open Banking in Canada in 2024 and Beyond

Findings from the Blanc Labs x Canadian Lenders Association (CLA) survey underscores the enthusiasm and readiness of a diverse range of industry stakeholders towards the adoption of open banking, as well as a collective recognition of the potential benefits it holds for consumers and businesses alike.

With a majority expressing confidence in the impact of open banking on their core business offerings and growth strategies, coupled with a strong belief in the industry’s ability to deliver safer access to innovative financial products and services, the stage is set for a transformative shift in Canada’s financial landscape.

 

Blanc Labs is a trusted partner to forward-thinking financial services companies. Learn more about how we can assist your organization in shaping your open banking technology strategy and implementation.

Business Process Improvement vs Business Process Reengineering 

Financial Services | Banking Automation | Business Process Improvement

Business Process Improvement vs Business Process Reengineering 

April 8, 2024

Your business’s ability to change goes a long way toward contributing to long-term success. But how do you decide whether to make small changes over the long term or if a situation calls for a radical change?

To determine this, you must understand business process improvement (BPI) and reengineering (BPR). In this guide, we explain the meaning of BPI and BPR and when to use them.

What is Business Process Improvement?

Business process improvement is an ongoing process where you make small, continuous improvements to make processes more efficient.

BPI is like fine-tuning your car’s engine to make it run smoother and faster. You start by examining the engine’s current condition. Then you find areas that could use some maintenance and perform that maintenance to improve efficiency. Of course, BPI requires careful planning and execution, so it’s always smart to have a BPI specialist by your side.

Continuous improvement and data-driven decisions are key aspects of BPI. Instead of blindly chasing market trends and investing in expensive tech, you start with introspection. You use analytics to validate the need for change. And you make small changes over time to minimize disruption.

What is Business Process Reengineering?

Business process reengineering is a comprehensive process redesign exercise that helps a business improve efficiency and overall performance significantly.

Business Process Reengineering is the radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in productivity, cycle times, quality, and employee and customer satisfaction.

Bain & Company

There are times when your business might need a radical change, such as: 

  • When you want to build a competitive advantage 
  • To prepare for rapid growth 
  • After a merger or acquisition 
  • Organizations restructuring

Of course, this is an inclusive list. You might choose to reengineer a process to improve productivity, comply with new regulatory requirements, or introduce new technology. However, BPR is a far more extensive process than BPI. It requires effective change management and stakeholder engagement. 

BPI vs. BPR

 

While BPI and BPR share some common objectives — improved efficiency and optimal resource utilization — they differ in some key areas. Here are three key aspects where BPI and BPR differ:

Level of Change

BPI is about continuously asking yourself, “How can we make this better?” even when there’s no urgency to change a process. The focus is to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas of waste within your current processes. For example, if you’re an online retailer, BPI could involve streamlining your order fulfillment process to reduce delivery times or using a more robust CRM to improve client relationships.

BPR involves a complete overhaul. It’s like tearing down an entire house and building it from scratch. Suppose you’re a retail company that wants to improve delivery times. But instead of optimizing the order fulfillment process, you redesign the entire supply chain, from sourcing to delivery.

Be careful, though. Companies often overwhelm themselves by overestimating their capacity for change. It’s hard to determine if a process redesign is viable without understanding your capacity for change. As David Michels and Kevin Murphy explain in their HBR article:

The current business landscape is evolving so rapidly and unpredictably that executives are full of questions about change. How much? They want to know. How fast? How sustainable? And sometimes, just how? In our experience companies can’t hope to answer these questions unless they understand their own capacity for change.

Harvard Business Review

Time Frame

Implementing BPI takes less time than implementing BPR. Think of BPI as a series of quick wins. You zoom into your process, find areas for improvement, make changes, and repeat. The exact time frame may differ based on the adjustments you want to make and could take weeks or months.

BPR is a marathon, not a race. It requires redesigning the process from scratch. A successful redesign might involve significant investments in technology and training. This requires careful consideration and meticulous execution. Naturally, redesigning and executing can take a long time, typically months or even years.

Risk and Disruption

There’s a significant divergence between BPI and BPR regarding risk and divergence. Since BPI involves making small changes, the level of disruption and risk is relatively lower.

Employees are less likely to resist these small changes because BPI builds on existing structures and practices. Plus, the changes are implemented gradually, so the transition is smoother and causes minimal disruption to your business’s day-to-day operations.

On the other hand, BPR involves challenging deeply ingrained practices and questioning conventions. Employees might have to step out of their comfort zone to execute changes of that magnitude, so there’s greater risk and disruption. Before you move forward with BPR, ensure that you and your team are prepared for that change.

We believe that most firms do not proactively manage change risk in a way that’s commensurate with the benefits of success and the costs of failure. Effectively managing change risk is a necessary ‘muscle’ to reduce, preempt, mitigate, and manage the challenges that come with (intents of) transformation, without bringing decision paralysis or stifling innovation in the organization.

‘Managing Change Risk’, Oliver Wyman

BPI vs. BPR: What Will Work Best for You?

Choosing between BPI and BPR is a crucial strategic decision. There are multiple factors to consider, such as:

Need for Change

What’s the current state of the process and its inefficiencies? Fundamentally flawed or outdated processes call for BPR. Eliminating fundamental flaws or updating your entire process with incremental changes can take a long time — not practical. However, BPI is a more suitable choice when the process is relatively sound but has some areas of inefficiency.

Suppose you’re a software development company. You’re struggling with lengthy approval cycles, siloed communication, and inconsistent quality standards because of an outdated development process. This warrants a complete process overhaul — you can’t afford to compromise on quality for long, can you?

Alignment With Strategy

Does the process align with your strategic goals? If a process no longer meets your business’s evolving needs or is preventing you from achieving your goals, it’s time to reengineer the process. Conversely, if your process is fundamentally aligned with your strategic objectives, but requires optimization to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction, BPI is the way to go.

For example, BPR is a better choice for an ecommerce company that wants to differentiate itself through personalized customer experiences and finds its current sales process rigid and transactional. But BPI makes more sense if the process is already customer-centric and requires additional personalization.

Risk Appetite

Assess your risk appetite before reengineering a process — can your business accept the disruption that comes with dismantling a key process and reimplementing it? For example, if a small manufacturer plans to transition from traditional batch production to lean manufacturing, the cost of implementing the new process and the halted production can translate to a major cost for the business.

Available Resources

BPI is less resource-intensive than BPR. Even when you’re running low on cash or don’t have the expertise to implement a radical shift in your process, you can make small improvements to your process over time.

 

 

Enhance Business Processes with Blanc Labs

Blanc Labs helps businesses like yours not only choose the right way forward but also offers comprehensive assistance to implement incremental changes strategically or re-engineer processes from scratch. If you need help navigating a change in business process, get in touch with us.

What is the role of a Business Process Improvement Specialist? 

Financial Services | Business Process Improvement

What is the role of a Business Process Improvement Specialist? 

February 16, 2024
Business Process Improvement Specialist in Canada

What is the role of a Business Process Improvement Specialist in Canada?

Business process improvement (BPI) involves analyzing current processes, identifying room for improvement, and redesigning processes to make them more efficient. The problem? Analyzing processes, using data to find inefficiencies, and redesigning and implementing processes with minimal disruption requires skill and experience. That’s where a business process improvement specialist steps in. 

You might tackle various challenges when working to improve your processes. According to Capgemini, the most prominent business process management challenges are functional silo culture and fragmented budgets. 

Redesigning processes while tackling these challenges can be overwhelming, but specialists are equipped with the experience needed to make the transition smoother. In this guide, we discuss the business process improvement workflow and how a specialist can make things easier for you.

The Need for Business Process Improvement before Automation

You’re investing in automation to improve business processes. Before you put money on the table, it’s vital to learn how this investment will impact your business’s efficiency and bottom line.

At its core, business process improvement is about driving efficiency and improving performance through streamlined operations. A critical analysis of business processes and workflows enables you to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, allowing you to focus efforts on automating the right processes.

Business process improvement is undeniably mission-critical to make your business future-ready, but it’s also important to:

  • Develop a competitive advantage: Prioritizing continuous improvement and standardizing processes can help build competitive advantages like cost leadership, differentiated products or services, better quality, scalability, and agility.
  • Improve efficiency: Zeroing in on processes you can automate or streamline improves efficiency and output. For example, you can use technologies like intelligent document processing (IDP) to streamline invoice processing. This frees up your finance team to focus on more strategic tasks like cash flow analysis.
  • Elevate customer experience: Modern customers have some ground rules. They want fast responses, consistent experiences, and personalized interactions. Modern lenders provide hassle-free digital experiences to SMB clients, where document collection is a single step and approvals take hours and not weeks.  

“The fact is that consistency on the most common customer journeys is an important predictor of overall customer experience and loyalty. Banks, for example, saw an exceptionally strong correlation between consistency on key customer journeys and overall performance in customer experience.”

The Three Cs of customer Satisfaction, McKinsey & Company

  • Foster a culture of innovation: Striving for continuous improvement encourages critical thinking, offers your team a platform for experimentation, and rewards innovation. For example, if you’re a financial institution trying to automate your loan origination process, a culture of innovation would encourage employees to take charge of every step, from process analysis to pilot implementation.

Business Process Improvement Workflow

Before you take the first step, see if you can get a business process improvement specialist on board.

Their experience and expertise go a long way in minimizing workflow disruption and efficiently designing and executing new workflows. With that in mind, let’s talk about how you can improve business processes.

Process Mapping

Process mapping involves creating a visual representation of your current business processes. You map every step, interaction, and decision point in your workflow from start to finish when mapping a process.

This map gives you a starting point to understand how the current process works. Identifying bottlenecks or ways to make a process more efficient is easier when you can view the process rather than just verbally discussing the steps in a process.

Root Cause Analysis

Time to play detective. Root cause analysis involves digging deeper into finding the underlying reasons behind a specific problem or inefficiency. For example, if you’re a financial company experiencing delays in processing customer payments, here’s what finding the root cause might look like:

  • Why are employees encountering difficulties processing the payments? Probably because employees are spending time fixing errors in payment records.
  • Why are there discrepancies in the payment records? Maybe the outdated system is causing technical problems or employees need more training.
  • Why are we using outdated systems and not investing in training? Lack of budget.

 

This is how root cause analysis takes you to a problem’s roots. In the example above, the finance team could request additional funds in the next quarter to invest in a system upgrade and training to process customer payments faster.

Blanc Labs’ Business Process Improvement Framework

Cause and Effect Analysis

Use techniques like fishbone or Ishikawa diagrams for a visual representation of the cause-and-effect relationship between factors impacting your business processes and problems.

Categorize problems into multiple buckets like people, processes, equipment, and external factors. This will help you gain insights into various elements that impact your business processes and prioritize the ones with the biggest positive impact.

Statistical Process Control

Numbers don’t lie — statistical process control (SPC) helps you understand your process through numbers. SPC enables you to identify trends, detect abnormalities in the process, and make data-driven decisions to improve your process.

Design of Experiments

Once you’ve identified a problem, you need a systematic and structured way to identify potential improvements and test them. Experimentation helps you do exactly that.

It’s the same as stress-testing your processes under various scenarios. You design an experiment, manipulate relevant variables, and measure their impact on the business process. This enables you to understand the impact of a change before you fully implement it, allowing you to minimize disruption.

How BPI and Intelligent Automation can improve the Borrowing Experience for Small Business Owners

BEFORE
AFTER

A Frustrating Lending Experience

Small business owner_loan approval

Alex applies for a loan with a traditional commercial lender to expand her cafe into a local chain. The onboarding process is frustrating and time-consuming, with lengthy paperwork and no guidance. The lender’s inaccurate reporting and static risk assessment results in conservative loan terms that fail to acknowledge her business’s recent growth and the positive trends in the local market. This jeopardizes Alex’s ability to secure an ideal property for her new location and erodes her confidence in the lender’s support for her business growth. Throughout the process, Alex experiences an impersonal service, devoid of the understanding and support crucial for an entrepreneur.

Small business owner_loan approval

A Transformative Lending Experience

Small business owner_lending

Six months later, Alex chooses a lender with a digital platform and automated loan decisioning for her next expansion. With streamlined onboarding, automated data extraction, and intelligent chatbot, the experience is transformative. Real-time updates, automated tracking, intelligent document processing, and dynamic risk assessment make loan processing efficient and user-friendly. Alex secures her loan promptly and finds the perfect location for her new café. The chatbot also offers personalized customer experience, making Alex feel valued.

Small business owner_lending

The Role of a Business Process Improvement Specialist

Process mapping, analysis, and re-engineering require a specialist. A specialist has the knowledge and experience required to minimize workflow disruption and effectively realize process efficiencies. Here’s how a business process improvement specialist helps:

Pain Point Discovery

Think of business process improvement specialists as Sherlock Holmes. They come in, zoom into your processes, and find pain points that hinder efficiency.

They don’t just observe. They conduct interviews and surveys, ask the right questions, and listen attentively to discover areas that are inefficient, error-prone, and not aligned with organizational goals. The discovery phase is vital — it sets the stage for targeted improvements.

Process Analysis

When the specialist finds room for improvement in a process, they pull up their sleeves and start dissecting it.

They map every step, decision point, and interaction in your process and use techniques like value stream mapping, data analysis, and flowcharting to take a closer look at how the process currently operates and where bottlenecks and inefficiencies lie. This lays the groundwork for informed and data-backed decision-making and process design.

Opportunity Analysis

Insights from process analysis equip the specialist to shift focus to opportunity analysis. They consider the benefits of addressing a pain point and improving the process versus the cost — do the monetary benefits of redesigning the process justify (and exceed) the cost of making those improvements?

Cost-benefit analysis requires input from multiple experts. For example, if a process redesign could improve customer experience, what would be the benefit, in monetary terms, of improved customer experience? The specialist might need insights from multiple teams like sales and accounting to understand the monetary impact.

They also consider the risks of redesigning the process. Will the redesign require significant changes? How long will it take the employees to get through the learning curve and achieve full efficiency? The specialist understands these risks and identifies ways to mitigate them.

Implementation Design

After factoring in the costs and risks associated with redesigning a process and verifying the viability of a process redesign, the specialist transitions into creating and implementing a more efficient process design.

The redesigned process might involve one or multiple changes like a more efficient workflow, new technology, or a redesigned organizational structure. For example, the specialist might use enterprise automation solutions to automate repetitive tasks, potentially multiplying your team’s productivity or include GenAI to enable the next level of customer service.

The specialist develops a detailed implementation plan including the details of redesign, clear timelines, responsibilities, and performance metrics. They collaborate with stakeholders during this phase to ensure buy-in and alignment with organizational objectives.

Business Process Improvement Integration

Process improvement isn’t a one-off activity. To truly reap the benefits of process improvement, the specialist must integrate the improvement initiatives into the organization’s culture.

The specialist can help you develop change management strategies to inculcate a culture rooted in continuous improvement; this is vital to engaging employees across the organization and encouraging them to contribute ideas that drive change.

For example, the specialist can train teams to build applications quickly using low-code platforms. This enables teams to solve problems independently and quickly. Of course, there are many ways to develop a culture of continuous improvement depending on factors like industry. For example, Bill Keen, CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, explains:

“By owning mistakes and building processes to prevent the mistakes that do occur from happening again, you will build trust among your customers and a culture of continuous improvement among your staff.”

With training and efficient feedback mechanisms, you can sustain process improvements for a long time and ingrain them in your company’s DNA.

Business Process Improvement with Blanc Labs

We firmly believe that transformation happens over time and that process improvement is an ongoing journey. Our approach helps you practically redesign processes effectively and consistently, and in a way that fits your business’s unique needs.

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Winning the Open Banking Race: A Challenger’s Path to Entering the Ecosystem Economy

Financial Services | Consumer Driven Banking | Open Banking

Winning the Open Banking Race: A Challenger’s Path to Entering the Ecosystem Economy

February 5, 2024
Winning the Open Banking Race_Consumer driven banking_Blanc Labs

Capitalizing on the Open Banking Opportunity

This whitepaper provides a practical path to adopting open banking for banks and financial services institutions. It describes the steps that successful early adopters have taken in the process of forming their open banking strategy and executing on it, while balancing the risks and unknowns in markets where regulatory direction was still being formed.

This whitepaper covers:

  • Understanding Open Banking: What is it and What is the Opportunity
  • Building a Business Case for Open Banking Enablement
  • Governance Models
  • Technology Strategies for Open Banking
  • The Ecosystem Approach for Financial Services

Many of our clients understand that consumer directed finance represents a significant shift in how value will be created and distributed between FI’s and consumers.   Knowing how to get started can be daunting and this whitepaper contains recommendations for a “no regrets” approach to make progress when clear guidelines are not yet defined.

The open banking opportunity:

61% workers who say that the introduction of AI has improved productivity.
96% error reduction rate in loan application processing
Building the Business Case for Digital Transformation
$77 billion
the value of open banking transactions worldwideÂč
20%
the increase in Canadian customers’ willingness to share data with big tech firms since 2020ÂČ
65%
of Canadian SMBs feel positive about seamlessly sharing financial data between banks and authorized third partiesÂł

Download the full whitepaper for:

✅ A practical path to adopting open banking
✅ Steps you can take in forming an open banking strategy and executing on it
✅ Technology strategy, monetization, governance models for open banking

Open Banking whitepaper cover

Winning the Open Banking Race whitepaper LP Web

Winning the Open Banking Race whitepaper – Feb 2024 Landing page web created in Feb 2024 https://blanclabs.com/insights/winning-the-open-banking-race-consumer-driven-finance

Name

Get in touch

David Offierski
VP of Partnerships & Open Banking Lead

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Canadian IT services firms offer a strategic opportunity for US Banks and FIs

Insight | Banking Automation | IT Management | Nearshore IT Support

Canadian IT services firms offer a strategic opportunity for US Banks and FIs

January 29, 2024
Understanding the Strategic Advantages of Canadian Nearshore IT Support for U.S. Banks_Blanc Labs

In today’s challenging environment, U.S. bank IT departments are under unprecedented pressure to deliver more with limited resources. Cost-effective Canadian nearshore IT support, especially from technology-rich regions like Toronto, are emerging as a compelling opportunity for U.S. banks seeking to transform their technology infrastructure and enhance operational efficiency.

Toronto: Access to World-Class Technology Talent

Toronto is recognized globally as a Canadian center for technology and fintech companies. This world-class and fast growing city with 6.5 million citizens in 2023 is a dynamic and creative urban environment that at this point has become a self-sustaining financial technology hub, making it an ideal partner for U.S. banks seeking talent to drive their transformation roadmaps further and faster.

The region is home to top-tier universities like the University of Toronto, Waterloo and York University are renowned for their research and technology programs, providing a steady stream of skilled graduates and fostering a culture of innovation. Additionally, Toronto hosts the MaRS Discovery District, one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS provides a platform for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs, further solidifying Toronto’s status as a leader in technological development and innovation.

 

Proximity and Time Zone Alignment

Toronto’s geographical proximity, where almost any major U.S. city can be easily reached with a short, direct flight, offers significant benefits, including time zone alignment for real-time collaboration and agile project management. This is particularly advantageous compared to offshoring and other options. The ease of travel not only strengthens business relationships but also ensures effective communication and alignment, which are critical for the success of complex IT projects.

Cost-Effectiveness

Choosing Toronto for nearshore IT support allows U.S. banks to maintain high service standards while managing operational costs. The significant savings, often ranging from 30-50%, are a result of the current exchange rate differences between the U.S. and Canada, coupled with the inherent efficiencies in project management and execution. These financial benefits can be redirected towards other areas of growth and innovation.

Regulatory and Cultural Alignment

The U.S. and Canada share many regulatory and cultural similarities, which simplifies compliance standards and business practice alignment. This is vital for U.S. banks to minimize legal and operational risks in the highly regulated banking sector. 

Customized and Scalable Solutions

Nearshore IT support in Toronto offers tailored, scalable solutions to meet specific banking needs. This flexibility ensures IT services adapt to the bank’s growth and changing priorities, promoting long-term sustainability. Moreover, these solutions are market-proven and highly relevant for U.S. banks, having been successfully implemented and delivering tangible results in similar banking environments.

Enhanced Security

Canadian nearshore IT support provides enhanced security, ensuring compliance with North American data protection laws. This safeguards sensitive information and customer data. Look for a SOC2 certification, which signifies a firm that can adapt to the stringent security requirements, a crucial aspect for U.S. banks in safeguarding their operations and customer information.

Looking for a Canadian tech partner? Let us help.

For U.S. banks striving to stay ahead in innovation, cost-effective Canadian nearshore IT support is a compelling strategic choice. Partnering with Toronto-based firms, such as Blanc Labs, maximizes these benefits, leading to improved efficiencies, fostering innovation, and enhancing customer satisfaction, significantly contributing to the bank’s success.

Author

Les Riedl
US Business Advisor

Les Riedl, Managing Principal of 10XBizDEV, is dedicated to connecting US Banks with innovative, best-in-class solutions and services that contribute to their success. His extensive experience as CEO and board member in fintech and financial services consulting provides valuable insights into the sector’s evolving challenges and opportunities. As US advisor for Blanc Labs, Les is instrumental in introducing their world-class capabilities to the American market.

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These are not your grandmother’s models: the impact of LLM’s on Document Processing

Insight | AI | Enterprise Automation | IDP

These are not your grandmother’s models: the impact of LLM’s on Document Processing

January 22, 2024
These are not your grandmother’s models: the impact of Large Language Models on Document Processing

Document Processing before LLMs

Document processing primarily relies on rule-based systems and keyword matching, which can be effective for structured or even semi-structured documents with predictable formats. However, this approach often struggles with unstructured data, where variability and complexity are high. In contrast, Large Language Models (LLMs) bring a transformative approach to document understanding. They leverage advanced natural language processing (NLP) techniques, enabling them to comprehend context, semantics, and nuanced language variations in documents.

In the ever-evolving world of data science and enterprise automation, the explosive growth of unstructured data generated by companies has been a major challenge for data scientists. To give you a sense of scale, recent studies show we’re likely to witness a surge from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to a predicted 175 zettabytes by 2025. Furthermore, according to Gartner, unstructured data currently represents an estimated 80 to 90 percent of all new enterprise data.  Unstructured data can include conversations through e-mail or text messages, but also social media posts, blogs, video, audio, call logs, reviews, customer feedback, and replies in questionnaires. This trend spotlights an urgent need for more sophisticated tools to create value from this burgeoning data deluge.

Our team has over 5 years working with various OCR and NLP technologies, including having developed and training models in-house.  Don’t get me wrong, IDP  tech has come an extremely long way and the tools have gotten tremendously powerful. Libraries such as Amazon Textract (among many others) provide ML engineers a powerful suite of tools to accelerate the speed and quality of applying intelligent document processing to automation scenarios.

However, there are still limitations to how IDP can be adopted to a range of automation scenarios that we encounter in enterprise environments.

Think of traditional models document processing tech as a diligent yet somewhat myopic librarian, meticulously following rules but often missing the bigger picture. In contrast, Large Language Models (LLMs) are like Sherlock Holmes — insightful, context-aware, omnipresent, and adept at deciphering the most cryptic of texts.

This results in several key benefits and improvements:

Enhanced Comprehension

Traditional Method: Typically relies on keyword spotting and pattern recognition. For example, extracting dates or specific terms from structured forms.

LLMs Approach: Goes beyond mere pattern recognition. It interprets language nuances and intent, essential in contexts like financial and legal document analysis where the meaning of clauses and data can be complex.

Flexibility with Unstructured Data

Traditional Method: Struggles with documents like unstructured emails or reports, often leading to high error rates or the need for manual intervention.

LLMs Approach: Excel in handling unstructured formats. For instance, in customer service, LLMs can analyze and respond to diverse customer queries that vary in structure and content, easily extract information from employment letters or mortgage commitment statements.

Dealing with unstructured data, which includes everything from casual emails to social media chatter, videos, and customer feedback, is not a trivial matter. This kind of data resists neat categorization and defies traditional database structures, posing significant challenges in analysis and comprehension. Here’s where Large Language Models show their mettle, adeptly navigating this complex, non-uniform data and unlocking valuable insights that conventional methods might miss.

Adaptive Learning

Traditional Method: Updating rule-based systems for new formats or languages is time-consuming and resource-intensive.

LLMs Approach: Can continuously learn from new data, adapting to changes in language usage or document formats without extensive manual reprogramming.

Error Reduction

Traditional Method: Prone to errors in cases of ambiguous or context-heavy information, resulting in lower reliability.

LLMs Approach: Their deep contextual understanding leads to more accurate data extraction and interpretation, crucial in high-stakes industries like legal, financial and healthcare.

A Practical Example

ChatGPT 4, without any specific fine tuning or pre-training is able to easily extract information from a document it has never seen before. It understands the context and you can simply query in a natural way for data points that you are interested in:

*Chat gpt extracts information_Blanc Labs

* Note: we take data privacy and PII seriously (see below) and created “spoof” documents for the purposes of this demonstration.

For instance, by asking direct questions such as ‘What is the policy end date?’ or ‘By what margin has the insured amount varied?’, it promptly delivers precise information with perfect accuracy.

This scenario offers the opportunity to further explore solutions that leverage the unique capabilities of LLM’s for the purposes of intelligent document processing and automation.

Generative AI-Powered Extraction and Comparison of Insurance Policy Documents

In the previous section, we delved into the capabilities of Language Learning Models (LLMs) in streamlining the extraction of key information from various document types. To demonstrate this further, we now present a practical application of our system.

The first part of the demonstration involves uploading the initial insurance policy, which acts as our benchmark document. Watch how the system seamlessly processes this document, effortlessly extracting critical details such as the policy number, coverage specifics, the insured party’s information, and other essential data.

Next, we upload a second document representing a modification in the policy. It not only extracts pertinent information from the new document but also conducts an intelligent comparison with the original policy. Notice how the system highlights the changes in the date and insurance limit. This comparative analysis is vital to ensure comprehensive and accurate updates of all modifications and their implications.

To enhance the efficiency of such systems, integration with existing databases and cloud storage services is key. Utilizing APIs, these systems can automatically retrieve documents from various sources such as cloud storage (like AWS S3, Google Cloud Storage), internal databases, or even directly from email attachments. This integration enables real-time processing and updates, ensuring that the latest documents are always analyzed and compared.

The Role of Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG) in LLMs

For more context specific answers and solutions, Retrieval-Augmented Generation represents a significant advancement in the capabilities of LLMs. It’s another step forward on this never-ending roller coaster!

  • Enhanced Accuracy and Relevance: RAG combines the generative power of LLMs with information retrieval, pulling in relevant data or documents to provide contextually accurate responses. This is particularly beneficial for financial analysis and reporting, where accuracy is paramount.
  • Dynamic Data Integration: Unlike traditional LLMs, RAG can integrate real-time data, offering dynamic responses to financial queries. This is essential in finance, where market conditions and regulatory environments are constantly evolving.
  • Customized Financial Advice: RAG’s ability to retrieve and process vast amounts of data allows for highly personalized financial advice, tailored to individual customer profiles and market conditions.
  • Improved Compliance and Risk Management: In the regulatory-heavy landscape of financial services and healthcare industries, RAG can efficiently process and cross-reference internal and external data sources including detailed regulations and requirements. We believe that there is a huge opportunity to automate regulatory, risk, and compliance checklists to reduce complex manual efforts that exist in regulated industries.

Potential limitations of deploying LLM’s for document processing (at scale)

While LLMs are highly likely to revolutionize document processing with,  it is important to consider potential limitations as well. LLMs are like a double-edged sword, powerful in processing vast amounts of data but requiring careful handling to address privacy concerns and manage computing resources.

  • Privacy and Personal Identifiable Information (PII): LLMs are capable of processing vast amounts of data, including confidential or proprietary information as well as PII data.  Organizations must work within data security frameworks and engineer solutions that have data security at the core of how they are designed and deployed.  As a SOC2 Certified company, this is an area of key focus for our teams and we have implemented robust data handling and processing protocols to ensure that all PII is managed securely and in compliance with privacy regulations.
  • Computing Power and Cost: The potential impact offered by powerful LLMs to read and extract data from large volumes of unstructured data is reliant on the on substantial computing power required to run these models.  We are still in the early stages of enterprise adoption of generative AI technologies and the economics of leveraging these toolsets at an enterprise scale are fairly dynamic.  We expect a lot to change over the next few years but in the meantime, we are actively working with clients to understand the business drivers of using LLM’s to automate processes.  With our deep background in intelligent document processing we’ve become experts at crafting solutions that optimize model efficiency without compromising performance. We employ techniques like model pruning, efficient data processing pipelines, and cloud-based solutions that balance computational demands with cost-effectiveness.

Conclusion

LLMs and RAG are the vibrant threads bringing new patterns of efficiency, accuracy, and innovation. We’ve journeyed from the meticulous yet narrow pathways of traditional methods to the expansive highways of AI-driven solutions. This evolution isn’t just a step forward; it’s a quantum leap into a future where data isn’t just processed but understood, where advice isn’t just given but tailored, and where compliance isn’t just followed but mastered.

The advancements in unstructured data analytics signal a critical shift in our approach to data. It’s not just about the volume; it’s about the untapped potential that lies within. This raises a compelling question: how can we leverage unstructured data to gain a deeper understanding of our customers, societal trends, and the world at large? The key lies in harmonizing cutting-edge AI tools like Large Language Models with human insight, transforming this wave of data into insightful and actionable knowledge.

Harness the power of AI

At Blanc Labs, we specialize in tailoring AI solutions to the specific needs of the Canadian financial and healthcare sector. Our expertise in AI, automation & digital product development positions us to assist in harnessing the power of LLMs and other AI technologies. We provide customized solutions for intelligent document processing, intelligent automation, and enhancing customer experiences, ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations.

Explore how Blanc Labs can assist your organization in navigating and succeeding in the digital era.

Author

Luciano Lera Bossi
BPI & Intelligent Automation Lead

Luciano Lera Bossi is a skilled Engineer with 15+ years of success in tech, specializing in Intelligent Automation, Low Code/No Code and Agile Project Management. He enables effective communication between technical and business stakeholders, resulting in seamless project outcomes.

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