The number of documents people interact with in the workplace has increased exponentially, as has their inherent complexity. Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than in the field of professional services. McKinsey noted back in 2012 that “knowledge workers spend 28 hours a week writing emails, searching for information and collaborating internally.”
Clearly, there is an urgent need to find better ways to cope with this document overload. Professional services firms are continuously looking for more efficient ways to draft, manage and extract information in order to save time and money. Fund managers feel the pressure to make better, quicker and more informed investment decisions when reading standardised IPO prospectuses. Banks need to be able to more easily assess risk in commercial documents, as well as lengthy and complex regulatory provisions. Lawyers need to find ways to significantly reduce the time they spend reading documents, quickly transfer their accumulated knowledge to junior staff members, and easily provide a more cost-effective service to their clients.
In his book “The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts”, the legal tech authority Richard Susskind suggests that “we are advancing into a post-professional society”. The professionals of the future will particularly be affected by AI based productivity improvements. As McKinsey predicted in its aforementioned article, a “20-25% productivity improvement” will come from implementing social technologies alone in the workplace. A significant part of this improvement will require finding ways to control the large number complex documents that knowledge workers have to deal with, and to provide them with the insights and experience that one individual alone is unlikely possess.
This is the promise of Document Analysis Platforms which are expected to transform document analysis over the next few years by significantly improving speed and quality, while making the process more collaborative, structured and automated. The platforms are based on sophisticated algorithms and leverage networks of experts through the Cloud, while benefiting from improved storage options and reduced computing costs.
Law firms have begun to take the first steps in this revolutionary AI era by tentatively investigating to ways to apply AI to their traditional workflows. Automatic drafting solutions such as Legalzoom are becoming commonplace but do not use AI to provide depth of analysis. Advanced e-discovery systems, which filter large document data sets, have been used for litigation cases at big law firms for quite some time now. Increased usage of AI will surely improve the depth of document intelligence these systems provide.
These changes go hand in hand with the more profound business model changes that have been impacting legal services in recent years, but they are just the beginning. Within the next few years, knowledge management and document review will become integrated into the professional workflow, while Document Analysis Platforms such as TagDox will change current business practices.
By making paragraphs, phrases, words and numbers easily taggable the user or AI engine will be able to generate tagged, multi-layered documents that can be used for collaboration and easily navigated for validation. In addition, user-generated metadata will help analyse key document features and supply intelligent suggestions and improvements in real-time. Moreover, this analysis will start taking place across disciplines and even across organisations making it even more valuable to the users.
The process of sophisticated document analysis by professionals across the world is on the verge of a major disruption as Document Analysis Platforms dramatically improve their ability to analyse information in a collaborative, automated and structured fashion. The knowledge added by experts will become easily accessible by others and applied directly to their document analysis. As more and more complex documents are added to the system, the quality of automated tagging will improve further, creating a “virtuous circle” of improved insight and analysis.
As the Economist put it last year: “Just as the printing press put scribes out of business, high-quality AI will cost jobs but it will enhance the abilities of those whose jobs it does not replace, giving everyone access to mental skills possessed at present by only a few.”
As Oren Etzioni said: “the tech world is in the grip of an AI spring”, and during this spring, Document Analysis Platforms will establish themselves as the way for firms and professionals to handle documents.
Eli Luzac is the CEO and founder of TagDox, the world’s first Document Analysis Platform, which enables firms and individuals to quickly and easily analyse documents in a collaborative, semi-automated and structured manner.
Tony Angel is the former global co-chairman of DLA Piper, Executive Director of Standard & Poor’s EMEA and Managing Partner of Linklaters
“Rise of the machines”, The Economist, May 9th 2015
“Artificial intelligence: A virtual assistant for life”, The Financial Times, February 22 2015