The world we live in is forever reinventing itself, with the old continuously being replaced by the new. Document management is no different. As we fast approach the dawn of artificial intelligence (AI) in this field, we are sketching out how our industry will be recreated and renewed by it. Over the next five years, AI is expected to give rise to many new possibilities such as facial recognition, driverless vehicles and talking documents.
We are already witnessing miracles. Right now, if you were searching for a document on your computer, you would either need to know precisely where it was or utilise the search engine and employ simple, direct keywords. AI transforms this. With AI, you can speak to the machine as if it were a person and tell it exactly what you’re looking for. It knows what you mean, allowing plenty of room for error, and produces the document. This not only saves time and effort, but increases productivity as employees now have more time to get on with their work rather than standing at the machine for hours on end hunting for what they need.
The next technological revolution
Although Britain is already a world leader and producer of many goods, according to the Office for National Statistics, here in the UK, productivity has not increased in over a decade. In truth, UK productivity, as measured by output per hour, is estimated to have fallen by 0.1 per cent from Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2017 to Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2017; over a longer time period, productivity growth has been lower on average than prior to the economic downturn. AI can make searching, using and sharing documents so much easier. It could be the catalyst for productivity. However, Britain is yet to take charge when it comes to digital skills, particularly those required for artificial intelligence’s development.
However, the chancellor's recent investment in those skills is definitely a step in the right direction as it ensures they don’t fall off the production line. It also means that the UK now has the potential to become a world exporter in these 'intelligent skills'. This is important, because it is these exported skills that will be embedded at the core of driverless vehicles and the next technological revolution.
The next technological revolution, for many, is a printer which has facial recognition built in. Imagine walking up to the printer and it not only knowing who you are, but loading your personal profile upon sight of your face. What is more, relevant documents and print jobs will also be produced on your command.
In a number of ways, we are very close to achieving this. Just take a look at the app TapTapSee for example. TapTapSee, which is free to download, tells you what an object is via ’seeing’ through the camera. The app is fairly straightforward and the intelligence embedded within it can distinguish between rocks, pavements, people and roads - similar to the eyes of a driverless car when hooked up to an intelligent brain.
AI has the power to strengthen security
Artificial Intelligence technology enhances existing security solutions. Anyone who is not authorised to access certain files will be flagged immediately. In addition, AI offers user access security and multi-layered file permissions, meaning data is secure from loss, damage and alteration. With many organisations storing documents in a variety of places, it can often prove quite difficult to do something as simple as locate a file, making document management sometimes feel like a headache. But by being able to find that file, without risking data protection with something you carry around with you everyday - your face - security breaches need not keep you awake at night.
The future of AI holds a large number of possibilities, one of which is an AI that suggests documents as you chat online. According to a recent Gallup study, UK adults spend an average of eight hours and 41 minutes a day on media devices, much of which is spent using instant messaging tools such as WhatsApp, Skype, Slack, LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger to interact with colleagues and clients. Much of this conversation talks of documents or articles. It therefore makes sense to have an AI following this dialogue, even making suggestions when relevant, perhaps suggesting an applicable link when appropriate for example. It would almost be like having your very own personal assistant living in your device.
The Future of AI will also grant your PA a voice. So you can sit back, relax, put your feet up and command an AI, “read me the conclusion to Report B,” and listen as a fluent, clear voice recites the relevant text. Amazon is already touching on this: it's equipped its audio book store Audible to skip to the steamy sex scenes in novels. The passages are identified by an algorithm. It's a light-hearted proof of concept of something with much wider potential.
The future of artificial intelligence won’t just provide extra functionality in our daily lives, but also in other ways down the line. Our existing traditional computer CPUs (Central Processing Units) and GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) will simply not be able to cope with the immense requirements that AI needs to be efficient and effective. So the very nature of AI may spawn off a new revolution in computer and processor technology, which creates endless opportunities for their manufacturers.
What an exciting time we live in. But if you thought we have invented all we could possibly think of – think again! Don’t let lack of imagination get in the way, change is inevitable and the new reality is on its way. The Document Management industry are always working towards new, inspiring breakthroughs, advancements and a world where AI in our normal everyday industry is a reality. This is only the start of a very bright and forward thinking technological revolution. And those who don’t recognise this recognise this, are the ones that will be around for the long haul.
Eddie Ginja, ONS
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