Nothing is more important than digital transformation to a business. Gone are the days when businesses were thought progressive because they operated chatbots or built an app for customer engagement. Today, a business cannot survive without promoting a digital infrastructure.
The reasons for this are clear. Digital technologies offer a radical means for businesses to deliver value, shaping or changing customer perceptions, evolving commercial landscapes, even changing the underlying economics of markets.
Now, this is nothing new. We’ve used ingenuity to enrich our lives since we first learned how to use stone tools more than two million years ago. However, the speed that we’re able to innovate and solve problems through technology has, arguably, never been faster.
Just look at the last five years. In a relatively short space of time we’ve had blockchain, augmented and virtual technology, AI and deep learning, ECG biometrics, and deep learning, 5G… the list goes on.
All these innovations have radically changed how we communicate, entertain ourselves, manage our finances, even monitor our health. Picking the single most influential innovation is difficult and, depending on personal experience, entirely subjective.
However, in our current world, one where remote or hybrid working is the norm, it can be difficult to argue against a technology that has created an infrastructure where vital products and services are accessible to anyone in the palm of our hand. A technology that offers a seamless transition from office-based operations to remote or mobile working. A technology that provides insight and organisation. A technology like invoice and receipt recognition technology.
Data Recognition – The Better Way of Managing Expenses
Businesses have relied on paper invoices and manual data input for far too long. The hours spent cataloguing invoices and manually typing data into a spreadsheet seems utterly ridiculous when you consider that businesses can send an email in seconds or speak to colleagues all over the world in real-time using platforms like Skype and Slack.
What is the point of technological innovation if not to provide us with a better, more efficient way of doing things? Mistakes can be eliminated, processes streamlined, customer retention rates improved, the list goes on…
OCR receipt data recognition are the answer to how businesses can optimize their expenses. It’s as simple as that. The benefits are huge. And, more importantly, in our increasingly physically fragmented and disconnected world, one that asks people to stay inside, not interact with anyone and protect themselves and those around them, provides the answers to efficient invoice processing. It is, quite simply, a better – and the only – way that businesses can manage expenses.
Why Digitize Your Invoice Processing?
There is an array of benefits to businesses who choose to digitize their invoices. Digital invoices are paid faster than paper invoices, avoiding any fiscal imbalance. Better still, errors are reduced thanks to the convenience and accessibility digital platforms afford.
But the benefits are much greater than this. Accounts departments can improve the traceability of their invoicing operations. Invoices can be easily tracked and paid remotely from anywhere in the world.
Not only that, but digital invoices can also be easily stored in the cloud or on a hard drive.
Businesses don’t have to worry about missing printed invoices that can often be mislaid in a busy accounts department.
Another key benefit is that by choosing to digitize your invoicing process, your business can demonstrate its commitment to sustainability. A single tree provides (on average) 16 reams of A4 paper. One ream of paper is 500 sheets.
Now, think about this. It’s estimated that an SME pays many as 300 invoices every month. How often do invoices cover a single sheet of paper? So, as a rough estimation, a single SME could be using a whole tree’s worth of paper every year, just on invoice processing!
The Digitization of Invoices Through OCR Recognition in Three Easy Steps
Digitization. AI learning. Invoice and receipt recognition technology. Data extraction. It sounds like quite a lot for business owners to get their heads round. Sure, it’s easy to wax lyrical about the benefits of OCR and receipt digitization, mobile invoice processing and digital expense management, but without any context, why would business owners choose to invest in the technology over all the other tech innovations that dominate start-up or established business offerings?
Fortunately, the digitization process can be broken down into three easy steps:
Step One: Converting Paper Receipts into a Digital File
This is easy. All you need is a smartphone camera and an app that with the best receipt or invoicing scanning API – like Tabscanner! All you need to do is take a picture of your receipt and save it as a digital file.
Tabscanner has successfully extracted data more than 100,000,000 documents!
Step Two: Extracting Information from Paper Receipts
Once you have a digital image of your receipt, data is extracted line-by-line using optical character recognition (OCR) giving you a digital copy of your receipt. The technology can assess and categorise receipt fields in seconds for any POS receipt of invoice in the world.
Step Three: Uploading the File to the Cloud
Now that you have converted the paper document into digital format and extracted all information, the final step is to upload the file to the cloud for safekeeping.
You can, of course, save the digital file to a localised PC, however there’s always the risk of data being corrupted by malware or losing the documents if the PC suffers a catastrophic error.
Tabscanner uses lightning fast cloud API to extract and parse accurate data instantly, whist encrypting your data when in transit.
The Features and Benefits of Using Artificial Intelligence for Your Invoice Processing
Apart from the supreme cost and time saving, not to mention the reduced capacity for errors and opportunity to promote sustainability in your business operations, there are other primary features and benefits to using artificial intelligence when processing your invoices.
Interested in learning how the features of AI invoice processing can benefit your business? Keep reading.
On Time Invoice Payments
Business owners understand the importance of making sure that customers pay their invoices on time. However, even for an accounts team, this can be a time consuming and, occasionally, laborious task to manage. Identifying actionable information is hardly immediate, delaying how quickly businesses can respond to unpaid invoices.
However, by using AI-enabled expense management platforms, complete with deep learning, businesses can take a more transparent approach to managing their invoicing.
For example, AI that has access to all your accounting records can generate valuable data, including timelines of payments, customer reliability and longevity, payment methods and who has made previous invoice payments. Why is this so vital? Well, business owners can make data-driven decisions that will for better outcomes.
Easier to Detect and Prevent Invoice Fraud
One of the principal concerns for business owners in our digital-centric workplace is how to prevent fraudsters from gaining access to their financial data and stealing hard earned money.
Whereas there are varying encryption and security measures and protocols that businesses can employ, one of the most notable ways that businesses can prevent invoice fraud is by utilizing AI-powered billing software.
Artificial intelligence can check customer information, invoice, and payment method details, not too mention other relevant data before making a payment. By reviewing the historical data of valid invoices, AI can detect any anomalies which point to a suspect request for payment and decide if any invoice should be marked for payment or investigated further before authorised.
Streamlining Incoming Payments
Despite the finesse of automated invoicing, many businesses still rely on a hybrid or even manual invoicing structure. This means that accounts departments are tasked with tedious, time-consuming invoice processing that neither benefits business operations nor employee morale.
AI-enabled payments can be optimized with a combination of deep learning and streamlined processes. Payments can be harmonized before being made through historical predictions so present and future invoices can be managed quicker.
Additionally, invoice disparities can be identified without relying on human intervention – something that can prove unreliable, especially with little time and a mountain of invoices to process.
How Do You Automate Your Invoices?
So, now that you understand the features and benefits of automating your invoices, the next step is just how can your business do this? Well, for starters, it’s easier than you may think. In fact, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps.
Step One: Map Out Your Current Workflow
Before introducing any innovation to your business, whether that is receipt recognition technology or artificial intelligence-centric invoice automation, you must first take the time to understand and map out your current workflow.
Why? Only then can you determine exactly how and when invoices should be raised and processed, circumstances that can affect optimal workflows, even how you can avoid bottlenecks.
So, for instance, in retail this could look something like this:
Order is placed and customer payment raised > fulfilment location is assigned > order is packed and shipped > inventory is updated, and order is invoiced.
Once you have a clear understanding of the process stages, you can then move onto the next step.
Step Two: Define Your Invoice Structure and Actions
Every business has its own invoice rules. Some expect POS payments, others stipulate that payments are staggered over a period. Some say that payment in full must be made within an allotted time frame of the receipt of goods or services, typically, seven, thirty or sixty days.
Retail invoicing payment structure tends to be straightforward and simple. You receive goods or services; you pay for them. For many online businesses, invoices are generated, and payments collected at the point of sale and before the goods are shipped.
Wholesale orders are a little more complicated. For businesses to cultivate customer trust, when it comes to payments, transparency is essential. What is most important is that customers understand when they will receive their order and when payment is taken.
For invoice processes to be as smooth as possible, leveraging receipt data recognition technology and automated invoicing is paramount.
So, for instance, your invoice structure and actions could look something like this:
Order us placed and invoice is created on the order shipment > invoice is sent via EDI > customer payment (s) is verified > order is then paid at POS or within invoice payment terms > customer sent reminder (s) when invoices are overdue.
Step Three: Set and Communicate Invoicing Payment Conditions
Now that you have your process and actions decided, the final step to automating your invoicing is to set and communicate invoicing payment conditions to customers.
Remember to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay their invoices – this can be done in seconds with a digital infrastructure – and make sure that customers know when invoices are due for payment.
If you’re unsure of the efficiency or effectiveness of your invoicing process, you could always use a handful of customers as a focus group to see how responsive they are to varying payment conditions.
So, for instance, your invoicing payment could look something like this:
Set where payment is to be made > communicate payment conditions and how and when customers should make a payment > agree the actions, such as confirming the POS payment or sending invoices, complete with payment instructions.
Now, as simple as this is to do, any automating process is only as effective as the ease and convenience that customers experience when paying invoices. If you want to provide optimal customer service and build brand advocates, having your business leverage technological innovations, like AI learning and mobile payment accessibility is the only way to do it.
The Future of Invoice Processing Using OCR Recognition
There’s no denying that automation holds the key to the future of invoice processing. From a commercial standpoint the benefits afforded by technologies like OCR invoice and receipt data recognition far outweigh laborious manual processing. From a customer standpoint, the convenience and ease at which automation allows them to pay invoices builds brand advocates.
Lost or misplaced invoices will become a problem of the past. Commercial compliance and security will be optimized, and process errors will be eradicated.
However, perhaps most importantly, organizations have recognized that invoice processing is no longer a back-office function. Don’t believe us? 51% of accounts payable practitioners anticipate that by the end of 2021, most of the paper invoicing will be eliminated.
The only real question left is… how prepared is your business for invoice automation?