Abbyy Content IQ: keynote notes, quotes & anecdotes

Abbyy (or ABBYY if you follow the firm’s corporate brand guidelines) kicked of its Content IQ Summit in Nashville, Tennesse this week and the Computer Weekly Developer Network team were there to soak up the technical download.

CEO Ulf Persson started the session looking at the company’s ‘mission and vision’ and initially decided to focus on how his firm gravitates towards its partner network — and partner sponsors at this event included UiPath, Blue Prism, Ripcord and Nice.

Referring back to quotes from Winston Churchill, Persson noted that the UK prime minister’s words on change actually stemmed from an earlier quote.

“To live is to change and the be perfect is to have changed often,” John Henry Newman.

Persson thinks that ‘ease of use’ is becoming a paradigm in and of itself. He wants to be able to ’empower customers through self-service’… and so now we (as customers) have a different level of expectations if we consider the transactions that we make over connected services every day.

As have detailed before, Abbyy is known for its foundations in ‘document capture’ and management but now wants to establish itself more broadly as a provider of so-called ‘Digital IQ’ for the enterprise.

In terms of product, ABBYY Timeline is a neural networked technology that digs into business processes and identified which processes should be targeted for automation — and the company calls this Process IQ.

“Digital IQ revolves around both process and content. Enterprises have LOADS of process and content and we know that automation is a key part of the transformation that companies are trying to achieve. But it’s tough to automate [any] process if you don’t understand what’s in them… and so even harder to make changes to those processes. But we do know that processes always [typically] include document, so we need a way to EXTRACT the information in those documents to be able to deliver on the future. Our keywords here are modularity, flexibility, extensibility and ease-of-use,” said Persson.

CEO Persson says that the journey to digitising the information needed for next-generation business is what drives his firm’s research and development as it now works to build out its product mission further.

With an established presence in North America and Europe, growth markets for Abbyy’s technology include Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. The company has recently opened an office in Hong Kong to serve Asia… and also now runs a developer centre in Budapest, Hungary.

Invisible Robots

Taking over from CEO Persson, Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair continued his ‘I’ve written a book’ roadshow and delivered his well-toured ‘Invisible Robots in the Quiet of the Night – How AI and Automation Will Restructure the Workforce’ presentation.

Starting with his usual American football joke that leaves European attendees cluelessly befuddled, Le Clair clearly understands his subject and delivered his view on where bots and software automation is developing next.

“I like to put RPA in its place, what I mean is that it’s like a shiny new object,” said Le Clair. “We know that RPA is a fairly crude tool that has no native intelligence and has no learning ability, so if you keep the number of decisions [a bot takes] under five and keep its connection down to less than five applications — then the process can be executed more accurately.”

Integrating RPA with ‘conversational intelligence’ will be key to developing intelligent systems of the future, this (for Le Clair) is what will really take intelligent decision management forward.

Agreeing with the sentiment expressed by many spokespeople across the IT industry, Le Clair noted that ‘everyone will have a personal robot in the future’. But right now management doesn’t really get it and the development curve is relatively slow.

Bots today are slow, underutilised and have a high total cost of ownership… but the market has the potential to move towards more consumption-based pricing in the future.

Paying lip service to his Abbyy hosts, Le Clair noted that understanding what content and process really is and then pushing robot workers to help will be a fundamental step to making RPA really happen in the workplace.

As control moves from people to machines, the impact of automation will increase and the shape of automation will also change. Today, humans still make most of the decisions, but as the software starts to take more control, the cost of making decisions will move to zero (the same way that search costs zero today)…  Abbyy is certainly at an inflection point as it moves beyond being ‘just’ a document capture specialist and starts to play a part in the wider digital content and digital process market.

ABBYY CEO Persson: It’s tough to automate a process if your company doesn’t understand it.

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