Anthony Macciola, Chief Innovation Officer at ABBYY – Interview Series
Anthony is recognized as a thought leader and primary innovator of products, solutions, and technologies for the intelligent capture, RPA, BPM, BI and mobile markets.
ABBYY is an innovator and leader in artificial intelligence (Al) technology including machine learning and natural language processing that helps organizations better understand and drive context and outcomes from their data. The company sets a goal to grow and strengthen its leadership positions by satisfying the ever-increasing demand for AI-enabled products and solutions.
ABBYY has been developing semantic and AI technologies for many years. Thousands of organizations from over 200 countries and regions have chosen ABBYY solutions that transform documents into business value by capturing information in any format. These solutions help organizations of diverse industries boost revenue, improve processes, mitigate risk, and drive competitive advantage.
What got you initially interested in AI?
I first became interested in AI in the 90s. In my role, we were utilizing support vector machines, neural networks, and machine learning engines to create extraction and classification models. At the time, it wasn’t called AI. However, we were leveraging AI to address problems surrounding data and document-driven processes, problems like effectively and accurately extracting, classifying and digitizing data from documents. From very early on in my career, I’ve known that AI can play a key role in transforming unstructured content into actionable information. Now, AI is no longer seen as a futuristic technology but an essential part of our daily lives – both within the enterprise and as consumers. It has become prolific. At ABBYY, we are leveraging AI to help solve some of today’s most pressing challenges. AI and related technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing, neural networks and OCR, help power our solutions that enable businesses to obtain a better understanding of their processes and the content the fuels them.
You’re currently the Chief Innovation Officer at ABBYY. What are some of the responsibilities of this position?
In my role as Chief Innovation Officer for ABBYY, I’m responsible for our overall vision, strategy, and direction relative to various AI initiatives that leverage machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), natural language processing and text analytics to identify process and data insights that improve business outcomes.
As CIO, I’m responsible for overseeing the direction of our product innovations as well as identifying outside technologies that are a fit to integrate into our portfolio. I initiated the discussions that lead to acquisition of TimelinePI, now ABBYY Timeline, the only end-to-end Process Intelligence platform in the market. Our new offering enables ABBYY to provide an even more robust and dynamic solution for optimizing the processes a business runs on and the data within those processes. We provide enterprises across diverse industries with solutions to accelerate digital transformation initiatives and unlock new opportunities for providing value to their customers.
I also guide the strategic priorities for the Research & Development and Product Innovation teams. My vision for success with regards to our innovations is guided by the following tenants:
- Simplification: make everything we do as easy as possible to deploy, consume and maintain.
- Cloud: leverage the growing demand for our capabilities within a cloud-based SaaS model.
- Artificial Intelligence: build on our legacy expertise in linguistics and machine learning to ensure we take a leadership role as it relates to content analytics, automation and the application of machine learning within the process automation market.
- Mobility: ensure we have best-of-breed on device and zero footprint mobile capture capabilities.
ABBYY uses AI technologies to solve document-related problems for enterprises using intelligent capture. Could you walk us through the different machine learning technologies that are used for these applications?
ABBYY leverages several AI enabling technologies to solve document-related and process-related challenges for businesses. More specifically, we work with computer vision, neural networks, machine learning, natural language processing and cognitive skills. We utilize these technologies in the following ways:
Computer Vision: utilized to extract, analyze, and understand information from images, including scanned documents.
Neural Networks: leveraged within our capture solutions to strengthen the accuracy of our classification and extraction technology. We also utilize advanced neural network techniques within our OCR offerings to enhance the accuracy and tolerance of our OCR technology.
Machine Learning: enables software to “learn” and improve, which increases accuracy and performance. In a workflow involving capturing documents and then processing with RPA, machine learning can learn from several variations of documents.
Natural Language Processing: enables software to read, interpret, and create actionable and structured data around unstructured content, such as completely unstructured document such as contracts, emails and other free-form communications.
Cognitive Skill: the ability to carry out a given task with determined results within a specific amount of time and cost. Examples within our products including extracting data and classifying a document.
ABBYY Digital Intelligence solutions help organizations accelerate their digital transformation. How do you define Digital Intelligence, how does it leverage RPA, and how do you go about introducing this to clients?
Digital Intelligence means gaining the valuable, yet often hard to attain, insight into an organization’s operation that enables true business transformation. With access to real-time data about exactly how their processes are currently working and the content that fuels them, Digital Intelligence empowers businesses to make tremendous impact where it matters most: customer experience, competitive advantage, visibility, and compliance.
We are educating our clients as to how Digital Intelligence can accelerate their digital transformation projects by addressing the challenges they have with unstructured and semi-structured data that is locked in documents such as invoices, claims, bills of lading, medical forms, etc. Customers focused on implementing automation projects can leverage Content Intelligence solutions to extract, classify, and validate documents to generate valuable and actionable business insights from their data.
Another component of Digital Intelligence is helping customers solve their process-related challenges. Specifically in relation to using RPA, there is often a lack of visibility of the full end-to-end process and consequently there is a failure to consider the human workflow steps in the process and the documents on which they work. By understanding the full process with Process Intelligence, they can make better decisions on what to automate, how to measure it and how to monitor the entire process in production.
We introduce this concept to clients via the specific solutions that make up our Digital Intelligence platform. Content Intelligence enables RPA digital workers to turn unstructured content into meaningful information. Process Intelligence provides complete visibility into processes and how they are performing in real time.
What are the different types of unstructured data that you can currently work with?
We transform virtually any type of unstructured content, from simple forms to complex and free-form documents. Invoices, mortgage applications, onboarding documents, claim forms, receipts, and waybills are common use cases among our customers. Many organizations utilize our Content Intelligence solutions, such as FlexiCapture, to transform their accounts payable operations, enabling companies to reduce the amount of time and costs associated with tedious and repetitive administrative tasks while also freeing up valuable personnel resources to focus on high-value, mission critical responsibilities.
Which type of enterprises best benefit from the solutions offered by ABBYY?
Enterprises of all sizes, industries, and geographic markets can benefit from ABBYY’s Digital Intelligence solutions. In particular, organizations that are very process-oriented and document driven see substantial benefits from our platform. Businesses within the insurance, banking and financial services, logistics, and healthcare sectors experience notable transformation from our solutions.
For financial service institutions, extracting and processing content effectively can enhance application and onboarding operations, and also enable mobile capabilities, which is becoming increasingly important to remain competitive. With Content Intelligence, banks are able to easily capture documents submitted by the customer – including utility bills, pay stubs, W-2 forms – on virtually any device.
In the insurance industry, Digital Intelligence can significantly improve claims processes by identifying, extracting, and classifying data from claim documents then turning this data into information that feeds into other systems, such as RPA.
Digital Intelligence is a cross-industry solution. It enables enterprises of all compositions to improve their processes and generate value from their data, helping businesses increase operational efficiencies and enhance overall profit margins.
Can you give some examples of how clients would benefit from the Digital Intelligence solutions that are offered by ABBYY?
Several recent examples come to mind relating to transforming accounts payable and claims. A billion-dollar manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies was experiencing double-digit sales growth year-over-year. It used ABBYY solutions with RPA to automate its 2,000/day invoices and achieved significant results in productivity and cost efficiencies. Likewise, and insurance company digitized its 150,000+ annual claims processing. From claim setup to invoice clarity it achieved more than 5,000 hours of productivity benefits.
Another example is with a multi-billion global logistics company that had a highly manual invoice processing challenge. It had dozens of people processing hundreds of thousands of invoices from 124 different vendors annually. When it first considered RPA for its numerous finance activities, it shied away from invoice processing because of the complexity of semi-structured documents. It used our solutions to extract, classify and validate invoice data, which included machine learning for ongoing training of invoices. If there was data that could not be matched, invoices went to a staff member for verification, but the points that needed to be checked were clearly highlighted to minimize effort. The invoices were then processed in the ERP system using RPA software bots. As a result, its accounts payables are now completely automated and is able to processes thousands of invoices at a fraction of the time with significantly less errors.
What are some of the other interesting machine learning powered applications that are offered by ABBYY?
Machine learning is at the heart of our Content Intelligence solutions. ML fuels how we train our classification and extraction technology. We utilize this technology in our FlexiCapture solution to acquire, process, and validate data from documents – even complex or free form ones – and then feed this data into business applications including BPM and RPA. Leveraging machine learning, we are able to transform content-centric processes in a truly advanced way.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about ABBYY?
It goes without saying that these are uncertain and unprecedented times. ABBYY is fully committed to helping businesses navigate these challenging circumstances. It is more important than ever that businesses have what it takes to make timely, intelligent decisions. There is a lot of data coming in and it can be overwhelming. We are committed to making sure organizations are equipped with the technologies they need to deliver outcomes and help customers.
I really enjoyed learning about your work, for anyone who wishes to learn more please visit ABBYY.
- NVIDIA: From Chipmaker to Trillion-Dollar AI Powerhouse
- Laura Petrich, PhD Student in Robotics & Machine Learning – Interview Series
- Liquid Neural Networks: Definition, Applications, & Challenges
- Patrick M. Pilarski, Ph.D. Canada CIFAR AI Chair (Amii) – Interview Series
- AI Leaders Warn of ‘Risk of Extinction’