Reimagining ABBYY

After attending the ABBYY Reimagine virtual event, I don’t think that we can call ABBYY a document capture company anymore. And it appears that the folks at ABBYY would agree – lately, they’ve been referring to themselves as “ABBYY, the Digital Intelligence Company.” I think it’s an apt description for ABBYY and what they’re doing – helping businesses develop their own digital intelligence and providing tools that enable customers to flourish in the post-COVID era.

But wouldn’t it be fun if they channeled Elon Musk and called themselves “Lords of Digital Intelligence” or “Automation Wizards”? Maybe in another iteration of the universe.

Before we move on, let’s make one thing clear: ABBYY still does document capture. It’s a large part of their business, and it’s the genesis of many digital business processes. But when you juxtapose all the artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neural network technology that was on display at Reimagine with the philosophy that ABBYY and their partners spelled out during the conference, it’s clear that their ambitions span far beyond automating capture.

The future

According to research from Maureen Fleming, Program VP, Worldwide Intelligent Process Automation Market Research and Advisory Service at IDC, most businesses are focused on growing profitability, improving operational efficiency, increasing innovation, growing revenue, and improving customer satisfaction. She added that achieving all these goals (except growing revenue) can be driven by process mining and business process automation solutions.

In his opening address, ABBYY’s CEO, Ulf Persson (with whom I had a great interview a few years back) talked about the importance of digital intelligence in a post-pandemic world. He said that there will be a rebound, and that it will be driven by digital transformation and automation. In fact, Persson and the team at ABBYY are already seeing a rapid acceleration in the use of technology to digitize and automate business processes.

The problems

Neither Fleming nor Persson are implying that technology is a magic wand that solves business problems. Simply deploying automation technology is not enough. In fact, it is not uncommon for a business to not get the anticipated results from their digital transformation and automation investments. And we can attribute these failures, at least partially, to the fact that many businesses cannot identify where automation will provide them with the most value.

But we can also see other problems, outlined by Fleming, such as the 14% percent shortfall in available developers — Fleming predicts this shortfall will grow to 35% by 2025. Not only do businesses not fully understand the technology, but it is also likely that they won’t be able to hire enough people to do what they want with the technology.

This is what makes digital intelligence solutions so important. They enable businesses to learn the intricate details about their processes so they can identify where automation is needed, and provide tools that can be used by those who are not full-time developers (or speed up development for those who are).

Businesses will also require low-code/no-code solutions that can be used by knowledge workers and citizen developers.

ABBYY Digital Intelligence Platform

In order to understand where automation is needed, businesses must understand their processes, from the documents involved (and the required data therein) and the people who touch them, to the special rules, exceptions, escalations, and potential problems that can come from them. Once they’ve figured that out, they can build out the automation and keep tabs on the processes so they can maintain peak productivity.

ABBYY’s newly unveiled Digital Intelligence Platform leverages process mining and RPA technologies — among others — to help businesses understand and automate their business processes. ABBYY demonstrated a few components of the Digital Intelligence Platform during the first day of their event, showing off Timeline’s task mining capabilities that can look into “dark areas” (processes that happen on a local machine, like in an email client or Microsoft Word) and provide extra insights into processes. We also saw Vantage — currently in beta — and how you can create skills to automate document tasks or purchase preconfigured skills from a marketplace.

Process mining and RPA technologies can have quite the impact. According to Fleming, respondents reported that they were able to find problems faster, accelerate development, and lower operational costs overall. Fleming also reported that process mining solutions helped nearly half of the businesses she surveyed reduce operating costs by 11% to 15%, with another 18% claiming more than 15% percent in savings. Very few respondents reported less than 10%  in savings.

Continuous improvement

Businesses are constantly looking for ways to do things better, faster, cheaper. With process mining and RPA technologies, businesses can do just that. They can paint a complete picture of their existing processes, identify the problems, and implement a fix using RPA solutions, enabling customers to automate processes that once would require teams of humans.


is president and senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 15 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community.