Survey Results: Answers to your archiving needs

customercrowdWhat do our customers, and prospects, have to say about their repository needs? What are the common problems large companies face with the archiving solutions they use? And where do they see their needs, and the industry as a whole, changing in the future?

That’s what we wanted to find out. So we set out to touch base with our customers and other companies using repositories, surveying them to find out more about their repository needs and insight. Check out the anonymous Q and A session below and let us know what you think!

Are there any problems or deficiencies with your existing repositories?

All the companies we talked to had been using a variety of systems, including IBM® Content Manager OnDemand (CMOD), Mobius and Panagon, or sometimes a combination of multiple solutions. Their answers varied in terms of the problems they encountered, including:

  • Issues with the presentation layer
  • Lack of records management control
  • The cost of public access
  • Disparate archives for statement and invoice content and scanned images
  • The lack of a unified portal strategy

Some of the specific comments we heard included:

  • “[The] old Panagon repository is the great unknown and we don’t actually know what is in there. It’s unmanageable and the expertise is gone. Other repositories are recent deployments and we structured and configured better this time. In infancy, so nothing deficient yet. However, much of our unstructured data is not managed.” – Senior Consultant and Solutions Architect for a major Canadian bank.
  • “We invested in FileNet – but there is work to be done to get every business on the same page for use and storage.” – Vice President of Applications Support and Sourcing at a major U.S. bank.
  • “We did a large migration with Actuate, which was [a] successful migration from IBM to Mobius. As we look to integrate more into Mobius, we are not sure how to get all the data/content to a common format to the archive and set up for accessibility.” – Director of IT Applications/Document Solutions for a financial services organization.

What features are your business users requesting and what regulations do you have to adhere to?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act – which require organizations make their documents accessible to people with disabilities – was a common answer to the regulatory portion of this particular question. In terms of what business users are asking for, more simplicity in the user interface, integration with existing Business Intelligence (BI) tools, document transformation reporting and automation of correspondence processes were all listed. Other requirements were multi-channel delivery, flexible indexing, advanced searching and integrated content transformation capabilities.

Here’s what our surveyed customers had to say:

  • “We have concerns on storage size, format type and disability requirements.” – Vice President of Applications Support and Sourcing for a well-known bank
  • “Section 508 compliance is becoming more and more prevalent with PDF output.” – Director of Application Management for a health insurance organization.

Our third question asked customers what their vision was for where the technology is heading in the next few years. We’ll cover that in our next blog post.

SteveCastrucciSteve Castrucci is a Senior Product Manager in the Content Services Group at Actuate. He manages the Process Manager and Repository products within Actuate’s Customer Communications Management solution. Steve has over 15 years of experience delivering software and services to the market, and he is dedicated to bringing value to his customers through products that solve their business problems.

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Making the Most of Your CCM Initiative: Engaging Through Mobile Technology

MobileDevicesIn my previous blog posts I’ve been discussing Customer Communications Management (CCM), and how to make the most out of your CCM initiatives, based on the InfoTrends white paper,  Improve Your Enterprise Customer Communications Strategy in Five Vital Steps. The first tip considered,  in a previous post, was to take a more centralized approach to your CCM. The second is to use mobile technology to better engage your customers.

It makes sense. Smartphone use is up significantly in recent years, and people are accessing information on the move more than ever before – especially younger consumers. Interacting with these customers through mobile solutions, if done right, can improve engagement and increase customer satisfaction. Using CCM platforms for mobile technology can also help organizations track, measure and manage their communications more effectively.

An effective and centralized approach to mobile technology can go a long way.

InfoTrends predicts that mobile adoption will only increase in the years to come, as companies are driven to:

  • Provide a better customer experience. That includes introducing adaptive and responsive design, allowing content to be adapted to a mobile device’s screen size. It also allows users to dynamically select, group content and interact with their communications however and wherever they want.
  • Innovate business processes. Since smartphones have camera and GPS capabilities, this can make claim processing for example, easier, while QR codes, mobile payments and mobile data verification also add the possibility for further innovations.
  • Reduce costs. Mobile communications reduce the need for printed statements and provide more efficient ways to interact with customers.

Next up in my series on making the most of your CCM: Enabling Business Users and Taking some of the Burden off of IT.

Read the full white paper: Improve Your Enterprise Customer Communications Strategy in Five Vital Steps.

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Making the Most of Your CCM Initiative: Taking a Centralized Approach

CCM-DiagramCustomer Communications Management (CCM) can help build customer satisfaction and loyalty – but only

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if you do it right. And that begins with implementing the right CCM strategy.

In my previous post, How to Advance Your CCM Strategy: Recommendations for Enterprises, I looked at some of the recommendations that emerged in the InfoTrends white paper, Improve Your Enterprise Customer Communications Strategy in Five Vital Steps. As evident in the title, InfoTrends has identified 5 steps to making your CCM strategy more successful.

The first step:
Taking a Centralized Approach to your CCM initiative.

Chances are, your company currently doesn’t create, produce or manage their customer communications centrally. In fact, most businesses don’t. Instead, they manage them by line of business (LOB) or department, where communicating with customers is a key business function. While this may be a popular way of approaching CCM, it’s not necessarily the method that works best. InfoTrends found that a more centralized approach to CCM is more effective, helping your organization in several ways:

  • You get more out of your initiative. By taking a centralized approach, you can benefit more from the latest CCM technology, including channel preference management, data analytics and a synchronized experience between channels. Members are also better able to see and understand what exactly has already been communicated to a specific customer.
  • You improve your ability to stay consistent. By seeing the whole picture, you can make sure brand, messaging and style remain consistent between departments.
  • You can shorten the investment cycle. Having centralized experts in place to guide the initiative through the funding approval process can help push it through any red tape faster. What’s more, these experts are also able to articulate the benefits of investing in CCM, arguing its merits to anyone who needs convincing.

In my next blog post, I’ll look at the second step to a more successful CCM initiative: Engaging through Mobile Technology.

Read the full white paper: Improve Your Enterprise Customer Communications Strategy in Five Vital Steps

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Reflections on PDF Document Accessibility Events: What Matters for Our Communities Moving Forward

ShannonKellyPresentingNCConcerned by the possibility of litigation and inspired by emerging technology, interest in PDF accessibility has soared as companies look for new ways to make their online customer communications, statements and bills accessible to blind and reading impaired customers. This is a particular challenge for businesses using technology to convert enormous storehouses of data into print streams for traditional printed statements and into PDF for e-delivered statements, because moving to HTML often is not an option. To feed the interest in PDF and answer at least some of the questions that are out there, Actuate – a provider of patented high-volume PDF accessibility technology – has launched an ongoing series of events meant to keep the business community informed and to assist companies as they face the challenges of creating accessible and fully usable high-volume customer communications. It continues to be a great experience for me to be a part of these events, and there are many takeaways to share as we receive questions and feedback from business leaders from all over the US and Canada.

So far, the Document Accessibility educational events have included:

A webinar series co-hosted with one of our consulting partners, SSB Bart Group, which has helped more than 1,000 organizations with their accessibility initiatives. This webinar series covers all aspects of document accessibility and ran between September and October 2013.

A Document Accessibility Seminar series. Hosted so far in Toronto, Canada, and Charlotte, NC, these seminars are designed to answer some of the questions that exist around accessible PDFs, looking at industry guidelines and legislative requirements and how to best address them. Two more seminar sessions are planned in New York and Washington, D.C. in Spring and Summer 2014.

Hosting these events has put me in touch with many people from private and public sectors, at different stages of trying to introduce the concept of inclusionary practices when it comes to implementing accessible public-facing and e-delivered communications and documents within their organizations. Speaking to them has given me even more insight into the questions and challenges that exist in this realm and the information people are searching for. To help business leaders meet their information needs, I will continue answering questions and sharing feedback from the field on this blog.

The first group of blog posts responded to the inquiries I encountered during and after the webinar series. I was asked for more detail about low and high-volume documents and the differences between them when it comes to accessibility. That led to the post, Not All Documents are Created Equal, which outlines the difference between the two, starting from the way they are authored and continuing through to how they’re updated and the tools that are needed to make them accessible. Four Challenges of Making Credit Card Statements Accessible continues along the same theme, looking at the challenges companies face in making their high-volume customer communications accessible. Not all visually impaired customers want to self-identify as ‘disabled’, and they don’t want to have to wait long periods of time for their statements to be converted into accessible formats either. This has become a focal point of the challenge since most of those who use assistive technology (such as screen readers) rely on this technology and often prefer accessible electronic documents over other traditional formats such as Braille. An additional obstacle is manually tagging documents for accessibility which can be both time and cost-prohibitive, particularly for organizations such as financial institutions which serve millions of customers. These are just a few of the obstacles and challenges companies are facing today when trying to meet industry regulations, legislation, as well as the demands from their visually disabled customer base.

The feedback received from the seminar series so far has proven to be interesting since seminar participants also felt the need to write a couple of posts in response to some of the inquiries we received. After the Toronto seminar, Doug Koppenhofer, Actuate’s VP Global Sales and a guest on my blog, posted Embracing Accessible PDF Documents: Key Learnings from the Accessibility Seminar in Toronto. At this event, I spoke alongside Lou Fioritto – co-owner and Vice President of BrailleWorks and blind since birth

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– who demonstrated the difference between correctly and incorrectly tagged PDF files, and showcased some of the problems that have existed with poorly tagged PDFs in the past. Expected changes to legislation related to accessibility were also considered.

Finally, after the seminar in Charlotte, NC, Doug posted Full House at Charlotte Document Accessibility Seminar to discuss some of the findings that came up there, including some of the great questions and interesting points that emerged during the Q&A session. Questions addressed at the seminar covered areas such as editing accessible documents, what happens to accessibility if tagging is altered and how to address dynamic content that changes within a template, like a bank statement.

These aren’t the only events I will be attending – this continues to be an extremely important topic, most familiar to US federal government where legislation such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act has been bringing about accessibility changes for over a decade. However, many large organizations are beginning to take accessible web and web content very seriously, particularly with all the recent lawsuits and settlements, and now with changes to legislation such as the imminent Title III amendment under the ADA, new questions are surfacing on how to utilize technology to meet the demands. Actuate’s experts are planning more events in the future to educate the business community and help address the challenges they are facing. I’ll post details here when those events are planned, as well as any news on changes to legislation and updates in the field of accessible PDFs.

To find out more about the Document Accessibility Seminar series, view our presentations from Toronto here.

Post first published on G3ict.org.

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Mobility, Cost-Cutting and Business Analytics: The Three Amigos of Paperless Communication

nopaperIf your organization prepares and provides activity statements and other types of customer account documents, then you know electronic communications are no longer merely “nice to have” but an absolute “must.” A new generation of consumers is accustomed to having online access to their information from wherever they are, whenever they want it, and the failure to offer it – or, worse, the offering of a poorly-conceived or badly designed way to have it – will send your patrons scurrying to a competitor.

Fortunately, there are three business dynamics at work that make the decision to go “e” a no-brainer.

Mobility

The first of these is centered on

the growing penetration of smart mobile devices, which can be, and increasingly are being, used as points of customer contact. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, “56% of American adults are now smartphone owners.” This is the first time since that esteemed organization began systematically tracking smartphone adoption that a majority of Americans now own a smartphone, and a similar trend can be seen with tablets (owned by 42% of Americans) and e-readers (owned by 32%).

These statistics provide clear evidence that a significant number of your customers likely are equipped to interact with you anytime and anywhere they have a need. Your job is to accommodate them to the greatest degree possible, and whether it is via a native or a Web app, there are no remaining excuses for not doing so.

Cost-Cutting

Even the old excuse of added expense doesn’t apply the way it once did, for the move away from paper and toward digital delivery provides excellent synchronicity with the latest imperatives to cut costs. At the barest minimum, sending documents electronically means you theoretically can eliminate every expense related to traditional print and mail operations since there’s no paper or ink to buy, no folding and stuffing machines to power (nor people to run them), and no postage to pay.

Though these savings accrue right away, they do come at an offsetting price, as investments typically need to be made in data management tools and personnel to effect the changeover. But in the larger scheme of things, the advantages associated with going digital usually more than outweigh the costs, given what it can do to support mobile engagement and more.

Business Analytics

A big part of the “more” here is the ability to use electronic communications to collect intelligence about your customers while they interact with you. Whether you’re reaching them on a desktop computer or a smart mobile device, your paperless presentation allows you to track what they search for, what they click on, how long they spend on particular pages, and so forth – and it does so over time, so you can see how their interests and activities evolve over time.

This information feeds directly into the all-important issue of customer service by enabling you to provide ever more relevant responses to their inquiries and, better still, anticipate their needs. It also positions you to better target up- and cross-selling messages by properly matching your offerings to their demonstrated interests.

The beauty of all this is that moving from paper-based to electronic communications doesn’t change your fundamental business process at all since you still must prepare statements and documents as you always have. The difference is that communicating digitally lets you accompany your customers wherever they go by maintaining a presence on their mobile devices and sustaining a connection with them after the message is sent. These are advantages that are not achievable when you use paper – and since can save money in the process, it’s no wonder that it’s getting to be more than just “nice to have”!

SteveWeissmanSteve Weissman has a 20-year track record of innovation and success in helping organizations derive Maximum Total Value from their information solutions. A seasoned consultant, analyst, and professional trainer, he uses his keen strategy, business, and technology skills to identify, measure, and mesh his clients’ needs and goals, and recommend effective best-practices and solutions for managing processes, content, records, and data. Readers are encouraged to visit him online and to contact him at sweissman@hollygroup.com or 617-383-4655.

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Interview with Media Access Australia: What is PDF/UA and Why it is Important

CSUNPresentationFirst published on Media Access Australia’s Access iQ.

 

I spoke with Tim Lohman from Media Access Australia’s Access iQ about document accessibility and the PDF/UA standard before my presentation at CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference this past week.

Check out our interview below:

Access iQ (AiQ): What is PDF/UA and why is it important?

Shannon Kelly (SK): PDF/UA is an ISO (International Standards Organisation) standard (14289-1) for the Portable Document Format (PDF) aimed at making PDFs universally accessible (UA). It is a technical standard at the code level giving requirements for how you implement code for PDF readers like Adobe Acrobat, PDF writers like Word, as well as assistive technologies like JAWS. What PDF/UA is not, is a set of best practices. What ends up happening a lot of times is that, if a content author outputs their content to the PDF/UA format; they think that it is automatically converted into an accessible document. That is not true. Matt May from Adobe did a blog on this last summer and he said that the PDF/UA format isn’t the source of accessibility problems, which was true.

AiQ: What were the challenges with accessible documents that led to PDF/UA’s creation?

SK: The biggest challenge was that there were no clear standards for the conversion of native source documents into accessible, tagged PDFs. People may have thought that by clicking a button in Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign to convert to PDF with an automatic tagging process, that they were creating an accessible PDF. However, unless the native source document was created with accessibility in mind and the document, once converted to PDF, then had the tag structure retouched and manipulated by an editing tool such as Adobe Acrobat Professional, the result was generally a tagged, but poorly navigable or usable document to a blind or visually impaired person using an assistive device such as a screen reader. Without a set of technical requirements that address the content (such as from a Word document) being converted, the reader will access the content (such as Adobe Reader) and the compatibility with assistive technologies like screen readers, the result was typically very inconsistent PDF output of auto-tagged documents often with illogical semantics and mark-up. That really resulted in a lack of usability by the screen readers’ users. So what you had was the proliferation of poorly accessible or completely inaccessible PDFs on the web. The case with inaccessible and poorly accessible documents is that, not only do they not serve the community of the blind and visually impaired, but they also do not serve the needs of the general population in the way we have become accustom to accessing data via text search, copy and paste functions, etc.

AiQ: You said earlier that even with the PDF/UA standard that there are still accessibility issues. Are there techniques people can use to avoid these?

SK: Absolutely. When creating a Word document, ensure that you design the document with accessibility in mind. As an example, the document author would utilise the Table function in Word to create a table, or using the List function to create a list, as opposed to using only tabs and

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character symbols to create an ad hoc table or list. You can also make sure to define the text using the style formatter for both headings and body, because a heading format in word will translate to a specific heading tag in the PDF/UA. A list properly using the List format in Word will also translate to the proper list tags in PDF/UA. For non-text elements, such as images, you should be certain to provide alternative text descriptions with those images in your Word document. Additionally, you’ll want to use a standard font that conforms to accessibility guidelines such as Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma, Helvetica or Calibri and also be certain to populate the document properties, as well.

AiQ: Beyond being the right thing to do, are there other reasons businesses and government agencies should be actively producing accessible documents?

SK: Yes, because it is the right thing to do, and government agencies and businesses in many countries are required to conform to regulations, legislation, and accessibility standards for their web and web content including their PDF documents. Today these organisations are pushing the customers toward self-service via the web — governments, telecommunications, healthcare, utilities, insurance providers and banks, for example. That means that access to those kinds of services and e-delivered communications like bills, statements, notices, healthcare information, and banking and financial statements must be made accessible to everyone. There are guidelines, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which provides a globally accepted and adopted set of guidelines for accessibility regarding web and web content. Those standards have been adopted now in 17 countries and they offer organisations very specific techniques for making their content — including all PDF documents — available in an accessible and usable fashion.

I’d also point out that, even with the increased use of HTML, the PDF standard is not going away. It will remain the vehicle for organisations to present their data online. The PDF format in some industries is the required archive format to preserve the original document of record. Additionally, most all major financial and insurance organisations have sophisticated enterprise technology that converts into PDF formats massive amounts of data from millions and millions of customers into their statements every month – the larger challenge with accessibility here is the sheer volume, repetition and scale of this PDFs. The PDF format is critical in moving toward universal accessibility.

AiQ: What barriers exist today in making documents more accessible?

SK: Formerly, the only way to make a document accessible was to design it with accessibility in mind, convert it to a PDF format and then open it in an application like Adobe Acrobat Pro and manually tweak those accessibility tags. So the challenge is that this a time-consuming process for an organisation’s one-to-many documents – things like annual reports, marketing collateral etc. But for businesses and government agencies, how can you do that for thousands, millions or tens of millions of documents – such as bills and statements — that you have to e-deliver in PDF form every month? We would argue that you need an automated enterprise-level technology solution like the Actuate PDF Accessibility Solution, which allows these organisations to easily produce accessible documents in high volumes which meet WCAG 2.0 level AA compliance. The advent of the PDF/UA format has enabled the development of this patented new technology that is truly a “game-changer” in the world of high volume, e-delivered customer communication PDFs.

Shannon Kelly, Accessibility SME, Actuate

Shannon Kelly is an Accessibility Subject Matter Expert, since 2007 specializing in accessible electronic documents. Well versed in standards of the US Federal Government’s Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and the technical and functional performance criteria of the WC3s WCAG 2.0, she has led, developed and participated in many accepted and utilized industry best practices for accessible PDF documents. Shannon has assisted both public and private sector clients in the implementation of Section 508 and WCAG standards for accessible document creation and legacy document conversion to accessible PDF formats. She has also focused on education and healthcare industries and the US Federal government including the Government Printing Office, Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Social Security Administration. You can reach Shannon at skelly@actuate.com,via LinkedIn, Twitter or PDFAccessibilityBlog.

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How to Advance Your CCM Strategy: Recommendations for Enterprises

InfoTrendsWPHas your company implemented a Customer Communications Management (CCM) system or are you thinking of doing so?

If

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so, you probably already know a lot about the benefits you can garner from CCM: higher customer satisfaction, stronger customer relationships and even an improved lifetime value for each customer. However, making the most out of your CCM initiatives means introducing a proven strategy that will move your business forward.

A new white paper from InfoTrends, Improve Your Enterprise Customer Communications Strategy in Five Vital Steps, reveals exactly what goes into a successful CCM strategy.

The following are some of the recommendations that emerged:

  • Make CCM a hub for centralized communications. This way, you can holistically track your communications and ensure consistent branding and messaging.
  • Invest in a CCM Center of Excellence. It will help you quantify and articulate all of the benefits that emerge from CCM, while also helping to speed up implementation.
  • Consider template-driven technology. This will empower business users to create, manage and fulfill communications themselves taking some of the burden off IT.
  • Think about your mobile strategies. With so many people using mobile technology today, the market is full of opportunities for companies looking to create interactive communications with their customers.
  • Analyze your customer behavior. Data analytics and business intelligence will help do so, while also assisting as you create data-driven communications, all with the end goal of influencing customer behavior and driving upsell and cross-sell opportunities based on predictive analytics and past behavior.

Over the next few blog posts, I will delve more into InfoTrends’ findings, highlighting some of the other key ingredients to a successful CCM strategy. Next up: Creating a more Centralized approach to CCM.

Read the full white paper: Improve Your Enterprise Customer Communications Strategy in Five Vital Steps.

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Automating Content Categorization and Mining for Insights with Computational Linguistics

ComputationalLinguisticsWith tremendous increase in volume of electronic document and web content, the automatic categorization of documents has become the key method for organizing information and knowledge discovery. Proper classification of e-documents, emails, office documents, blogs, online news, and digital content needs methodology or technique such as machine learning and natural language processing. Organizations need solutions which can capture high volumes of unstructured content, provide a repository to store in native formats, text-mine using various techniques, and extract entities, concepts, and categories to classify the content properly.

Many vendors promise solutions which claim to provide insights and categorization of unstructured content. But getting insights on unstructured content (big data) is not a straightforward task. It requires a text analytics solution that is accurate and detailed and which produces results that are transparent and clear. Most solutions on the market use a statistical method for natural language processing that simply finds an appropriate set of text fragments that have been classified according to the researcher’s goals. Although this can often produce reasonably good results in a relatively short time, this method is generalized and carries sampling bias. It becomes challenging when the actual results aren’t what was expected. In a case where input used in actual projects is different from the input data used during training, it becomes too cumbersome to maintain and recreate corpus and re-train the algorithm to get the expected results, because there are no clear links between the results and the steps that are needed to improve the results.

On the other hand, a Computational Linguistics approach is transparent. Every piece of linguistic knowledge is explicit and can be easily fine-tuned to produce quality results. This is true even if the software needs to be customized for a specialized task (such as processing legal or medical texts). Over time, the incremental improvements inherent in a knowledge-based system yield far greater improvements compared to the statistical method where the input data soon deviates from the original training set.

Moreover, Computational Linguistics is detailed and, instead of just working on keywords and word frequency, it applies various rules and makes use of dictionary and additional analysis techniques, including:

  • Grammar to tokenization: how a document is split into sentences and a sentence into words.
  • Morphological analysis: how words are modified to express features such as gender, number and tense.
  • Syntactic analysis: how a sentence is split into phrases and how those phrases are assigned functions in the sentence e.g. “The can goes on the shelf” vs. “It can go on the shelf”.
  • Semantic analysis: how words and phrases are interpreted to give meaning to a sentence (“pretty awful” is negative, “pretty case” is positive).

Overall, there are several key features of a Computational Linguistic Approach that make it much more powerful compared to the traditional Statistical Method. Below are some real examples of how Computational Linguistics provides insights into the real meaning of unstructured content.

Analyzing every word in every sentence

In a language, small words can make all the difference: it’s important to know the difference between “great” and “not so great”, between “I like this cake” and “it looks like rain”. Important linguistic information for each word is extracted from dictionaries; comprehensive rules which are defined into the multilingual grammars are used to break down text into phrases. The next step is to assign important roles within a sentence and use our semantic technology to extract meaning from the unstructured text.

Working with phrases rather than just keywords

To extract insights from text, it is important to know what the author intended to say. As humans, we structure the word according to the detailed attributes of the objects and ideas we have to deal with and we use phrases to express it: we know that a “fire engine” is not the same kind of thing as an “engine”. A system that works only with keywords can never express this level of detail. Another example can be “Ministry of Finance has taken steps against slow economy”, here Ministry of Finance is a single entity and ‘of’ plays a very important role in linking “Ministry” and “Finance”. Dropping ‘of’ in the extraction process will lead to different results.

Analyzing every opinion in every sentence

Generally documents consist of multiple opinions representing several closely related but subtle differences. By reducing this to a single score, many systems hide the best insights and prevent people from drilling down to extract really useful information from the text.  E.g. “I hate vodka, but love beer and I enjoy red wine”. The sentence has 3 opinions being expressed and a separate score is returned for each one.

Understanding structure

To benefit from automation of text processing, it is necessary to first extract useful items and then aggregate them. Many models can be used to add structure to flat lists of items. One of them is extracting the semantic structures from syntactic features in the text. For example, capture the relationship between a product or service and its components or features (“the screen of this iPad”, “the telco signal”).  Another model is the categorization of relevant items according to taxonomy (“signal” and “reception” both belong to the category SERVICE). In this way a flat list of items can be turned into a useful hierarchy (Telco à Service à Quality).

How the results are calculated

Every opinion in the sentence is scored, and moreover it also shows exactly which words in the sentence express the opinion and the entities (people/brand/product etc.). This is true even for adverbs such as “really” or adjective such as “excellent” or negations such as “not”.

Document categorization is enhancing the level of data storage, data access, and the modification process. Many techniques and algorithms for categorization have been developed and not one of them is sufficient on its own. Organizations must seek solutions which are best fit to solve their specific challenges; solutions capable of dealing with large volumes and different formats of electronic content.

Visit www.bitext.com to learn more about the computational linguistics. For more on solutions that handle high-volume electronic documents, visit Actuate Content Services.

RajanSharma

Rajan Sharma currently holds a position of Regional Sales Engineer, APAC, at Actuate and has over 11 years of experience in IT industry mainly as a solution and pre-sales consultant. He has proven success in working closely with sales and product teams to provide comprehensive pre-sales support. Rajan specializes in business requirements discovery, architecture and solution consulting, and contributes to CCM Insights blog on these topics.

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4 Challenges of Making Credit Card Statements Accessible

4 ReasonsAs we discussed in a previous post, Actuate

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and SSB Bart Group hosted a series of document accessibility webinars in September 2013. The three webinars looked at accessibility from several perspectives, covering accessible documents in the enterprise, including business, legal and industry requirements; core solutions; and high-volume document workflow solutions.

One of the topics we discussed during the webinar series involved the challenges that exist for companies looking to make their high-volume documents barrier-free for the visually impaired.

Take one of the most common high-volume documents as an example: the credit card statement. Document formatting and structure components are much more different in a credit card statement (see Document Accessibility: Not All Documents Are Created Equal) than they are in a low-volume document, but they still need to meet specific needs of the blind and reading-disabled community. To make that statement accessible, financial institutions must first consider 4 separate challenges:

  1. Not all visually impaired customers want to self-identify as “disabled.” Studies show that many people simply don’t see themselves as disabled and don’t want to self-label that way: someone who’s dyslexic, for example, or an ageing individual who’s just starting to lose their sight. Having to self-label also conflicts with the universal accessibility movement, which deems that everything should be created in a way that makes it accessible to everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. To meet these needs, financial institutions need to create accessible statements that visually impaired individuals can access without special request.
  2. Whether they have special needs or not, customers don’t want to wait for their statements. To receive a credit card statement in an alternate form – including Braille, large print or audio CD formats –customers with vision loss have to request the service from their financial institution. The bank then has it manually converted each month, a process that may take days or sometimes weeks. Customers, as a result, are left waiting to see their charges. This is inconvenient to the customers in question, and makes it more difficult for them to balance their books in a timely manner or dispute a particular charge. To eliminate those time delays and hassles, banks require the technology that would create accessible statements on-demand.
  3. By far not all visually impaired customers know Braille. Braille is one of the traditional formats that financial institutions use to provide credit card statements to their visually impaired customers, but it doesn’t meet the needs of all. In fact, Braille literacy is on the decline: according to 2009 findings by the National Federation of the Blind, fewer than 10% of the people who are legally blind in the United States are Braille readers, and only 10% of blind children are learning it. Even if most blind customers knew Braille, not everyone who needs an accessible document is actually blind: 24% of computer users have a dexterity difficulty or impairment, and may need accessible documents to meet their needs as well. Financial organizations should be able to provide statements in a different, more widely accessible format.
  4. Creating accessible documents in high volumes is costly. While financial institutions have legal requirements to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, having to manually convert statements on a regular basis is a costly process. Not doing so, though, can lead to litigation and hefty fines. Banks need a tool that meets legal and business requirements, but isn’t as price constrictive.

Organizations with high-volume document output – including financial, telecommunication and insurance organizations – have to print millions of copies of templated documents with individual customer data inserted into them. To make individual statements within those millions accessible but immediately available without the need for customers to self-identify as disabled, those organizations need a tool that automates the process of making online documents accessible and barrier-free through screen reader technology. Screen readers rely on correct tagging of PDF documents, and therefore such tool would be required to produce documents where reading order, images and structural elements are properly marked up (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Defining the reading order of a PDF bank statement.

Figure 1. Defining the reading order of a PDF bank statement.

Because PDF format is widely accepted for online document delivery and archiving purposes, such an accessibility solution for PDF documents would provide an equivalent or comparable experience for the reading and print-disabled community. It would also do this without the prohibitive cost of manually converting documents, and would solve the 4 challenges of creating an accessible bank statement.

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Dealing with High-Volume Transactional Documents. Do I really need an ECM system?

Do I really need an ECM system?The same way you wouldn’t try and put out a blazing bushfire with a squirt gun, you probably wouldn’t use a stump truck to uproot garden weeds. It’s all about using the right tool for the job. Having said that, we live in a world where feature-rich products, promising to deliver a wide range of functions, are abundant. It’s always tempting to go for a “value-for-money-bigger-solution” to solve a smaller problem.

For instance, when we talk about a document repository, generally we tend to think of a full blown ECM system with all the bells and whistles including complex branched versioning, virtual documents, unlimited number of attributes, evolutionary classification schemes, rigorous security architecture and what have you. Although features like these are a must for an enterprise-wide, source-of-truth ECM system, in certain cases, a light-weight, high-performance, cold document repository where you can retrieve and deposit large volumes of transactional documents, is all that you need. A re-depository if you will.

It’s hard to argue a case against an ECM system which can also act like a HVTO (High-Volume Transactional Output) repository but, by the same token, it’s hard to find such an ECM system. A feature-rich ECM, generally, is built on a complex engine which, inadvertently or otherwise, has the performance penalties that aren’t suitable for a high performance HVTO repository.

So what are the features to look for in an HVTO repository? I am glad you asked. In my opinion, here are a few to consider:

Performance, Performance and Performance!

An excellent HVTO repository is the one that outputs high-volume/size documents to multiple delivery channels at higher speeds. It may not support complex versioning schemes but, again, for high-volume transactional documents, like customer statements, it may not be required.

Support for Printstreams

Printstreams are one of the major sources of high-volume transactional documents. A good HVTO repository must support industry standard printstreams like AFP, PCL, Metacode etc. An intuitive and fast way of ingesting as well as spitting out printstreams is expected of a good HVTO repository.

Integrated Transformation Capabilities

An HVTO repository is expected to provide a built-in transformation engine where content can be ingested, indexed and reformatted as required for storage, viewing or printing.

Integration with Information Silos

In large enterprises, a purpose-built HVTO repository is almost always found side-by-side with one or more enterprise repositories and other storage systems. Its ability to source/search data and documents from multiple sources is needed due to its, largely infamous, role as an Enterprise Document Cache.

Ability to Reduce Storage Footprint

Better HVTO repositories should significantly reduce data storage requirements by extracting and storing only one copy of common resources, such as graphics, fonts and metadata, for high-volume printstreams and reconstituting them back together upon retrieval.

Fit-for-Purpose Security and Audit

Even though HVTO repositories strive for simpler security architecture, the reality is that compliance requirements, both internal and external, call for a tighter level of security and audit on the documents stored in the repository. A good repository should have the right balance of meeting customer needs, regulatory compliance requirements, as well as keeping it all simple to implement and manage.

Now that you know some of the things I take seriously while deciding which repository to use, let me tell you about the smart TV I recently bought. It has hand gesture control, amazing sound, 3D screen, voice commands and ability to show streaming 3D and other content from the internet. Turns out, I do not have a big enough room where I can enjoy the amazing sound, hand gesturing is a bit annoying, with no way to bring ethernet cable to the TV and my slow wireless router and internet connection speed – streaming is not an option anyway. Guess what? I am still using my old TV to watch channel 9 news. :)

IrfanHaider

Irfan Haider is a workaholic who believes in work and life balance. He has been in technology business since 1998 working for IT consultancies like IBM, CSC and Unisys. He holds a Master’s in computer science and has, somehow, accumulated a number of awards, recognitions and certifications during his 15+ years long career. Areas where his colleagues and customers find him credible are, Enterprise Content Management, Electronic Design Automation and Identity/Biometric solutions. Irfan is married to his love of life for 10 years and have two sons to show for it. During his time at Actuate, Irfan contributed this post to the company blog.

 

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