Charlie Weidman is president of Buddha Logic, an enterprise content management solutions provider that helps companies streamline digital document capture and management. Charlie shares how their process starts is they typically go in, analyze the process, and then take a look at the solution set or tools that will help clients get to their goal. That culturally can be a challenge because people like to do things a certain way. Charlie shares they may sometimes have to convince their vendors and customers to take advantage of this new process they’re implementing. Buddha Logic specializes in the accounts payable world, but has also gotten into digital signatures as well, and shares that there’s a whole industry waiting out there to enjoy more of this automated processing.
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Charlie Weidman, President Buddha Logic, Enterprise Content Solutions Driving Cost Savings And Improving Profits
We’re incredibly fortunate to have as our guest Charlie Weidman. He’s the president of Buddha Logic, a Denver, Colorado-based company with 25 years of experience specializing in enterprise content management and smart process application solutions that produce a return on investment. Charlie, it’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast.
Thank you for having me, Bob. Looking forward to sharing.
Tell us how old did you get started?
Out of school. I graduated from University of Colorado Boulder and was offered a job with Martin Marietta and they started my career in the data processing world. They presented me with a PC back in the mid ‘80s and they weren’t sure what to do with. It pretty much is the size of a desk , but it was a lot of fun to play with it. I developed some of my first applications using some tools that were available at that point in time for an IBM XT computer. That started my path down to the data world. As my tenure with Martin, they trained me in a couple different other products. Both of them were content management products. What do you do with your documents when they’re coming into your world? How do you store them and retrieve them? How do you version them?
They trained me on a couple of products that gave me enough skill sets to start down the road of being an entrepreneur. I worked with a gentleman, in fact I had hired him or recruited him to help us do a project at Martin Marietta. A year later he offered me a job to come out and be employee number two with him in a small company. That’s how I got started in this whole world and have been through several very exciting and enjoyable smaller companies that failed. It was sobering and you learn a lot. I also didn’t ever want to go back to a larger company. I was getting used to being able to choose what I wanted to do and how I would develop and presented and delivered to a client.
I think about that pivot from large corporate security blanket to, “I’m going to come out with a small company.” Take us to that decision process in your mind. What did that look like?
It was an interesting choice. The salary increase helped a lot. I was offered pretty close to twice what I was making to start. I thought, “Wow.” At that point in time I was pretty young and I thought that’s great. I didn’t realize there were a lot of benefits that were being taken care of by my large corporate family that I now had to do by myself, so that was interesting. However, the work itself was really exciting. That was what made it easy, pushed me over the edge, so to speak, to say, “Let’s give this a try.”
I think about in the early years when you’re doing that data storage. What was that like in a large corporation trying to get folks to trust their paper documents to storage?
These are big contracts, so these companies had lots of paper. I guess the good news is that the company was sold on the process. “We are going to help you digitize. We’re going to move you from paper into this world.” We didn’t have nearly the battle I did when I moved as a smaller company that offered those services, because we didn’t have the branding and the loyalty and that recognition that, “Martin Marietta says we got to do this. This is probably where we should go.”
A lot of folks, you’ve got the person out there that’s maybe in a similar situation. They are in a big company, they have an idea or a skill set. They’re going, “I think I’m going to go out and I’m going to do this myself.” How did you get your first client?
Again, the training that we had with Martin made it very easy for us to find other companies and other clients that we’re needing the same processes. Martin went after a certain tier of client and ignored many, many clients that could’ve used those services. We had a list of people that we could go talk to. Our first company was here locally and they did survey processing. You would fill out all these surveys and they would get scanned and we started looking for the marks and you’ve selected this information.
Yeah, it was all paper-based and then you scanned it. The whole dot-com era was just starting to take off and those paths hadn’t crossed yet. Web and content really haven’t crossed.
There was a bandwidth function too.
I remember fiber optic was being late everywhere, and then all those were broken, but we have the fiber optic still. For the folks who are going, “You have processes and documentation protocols.” What is a typical customer look like that you service?
Our customers are wide range. We don’t necessarily aim at any particular market. Content within a business, all businesses have to pay bills, so there’s a whole financial, accounts payable, invoice world that you can automate. We can help people and most organizations have that need. We also can help move paper and processes and transactions around a business. For example, if I am in mortgage banking or in the mortgage loan business, every day there’s money that needs to be moved from one account to another.
Oftentimes, we find there’s this sneaker net version of a process. “I know the people who can sign for this amount are in today, so I’m going to take this piece of paper and run it around.” It has to be done, and to the person who logs into Wells Fargo for example and logs this transaction by 2:00. We’re able to look at those opportunities and say, “Let’s put this into an electronic form and pass the information around. If that person is not in the office and they’re at home or they’re on their phone, they can take a look and approve that same request over the phone. If they’re in the office, they bring up their interface and select ‘I approve it or reject it’ and here’s why.”
We were talking before the show a bit about the mortgage company. If you could take us through the mortgage company before you got involved and the effect of your process and help after.
Ten years ago we started with one mortgage company. They looked at their processes, they have all this paper that comes in the door that is shipped daily to them. It goes to the mail room, it’s opened up sorted, and they wanted to now capture that and digitize it. Instead of stapling and moving these packages of paper to processors who need to evaluate the loan and the analyst looks at it, they decided to scan it. The goal was to take that information coming in, central location, your mail room, scan all the information into a digitized format, recognize what the document is. We took some baby steps.
Originally, you put barcodes on it or you put a separator sheet in between each document so you can say, “These next ten documents are loan applications and what follows is a title policy, and then there’s insurance documents.” You can imagine there was a lot of prep time to get something to be scanned, and that was still a cost savings because now, I’ve prepped everything, but once it’s electronic I can distribute it to anybody in my environment. Now the processor, instead of going to look through paper, can bring it up on their screen, couple monitors, and start flipping through and making decisions based on what they’re seeing in these documents.
Step one was to figure out a way to get the information into an electronic format that can be distributed and be stored in a repository where we can then turn on some retention, another positive effect of doing any kind of content management. Because now I can start the clock ticking on data that I might be able to get rid of and not be exposed to legal problems if I’m hanging onto documents that should have been destroyed X number of years ago. That was a real positive thing. We’ve got step one, captured paper, transformed it into here’s what it is, and then put it into a repository so it can be accessed.
For the person listening who says, “I could expect if you came into my realization, the first order of business you’re going to digitize my work.” That’s really not what you do when you first walk in the door.
No. What we usually do is take a look at their process. That’s your step one. First of all, what is their goal? Why did you bring us in to begin with? Typically, it’s that mentality of, “We’ve got to get everything out of paper, we got to get it electronic.” What we typically do is we say, “That’s wonderful. Now let’s sit down and look at how you’re doing it today and let’s make sure your process is sound.” I don’t want to bring a solution in that mimics a process that doesn’t work well. You’ve spent a lot of money doing the same thing perhaps a little faster and probably electronic, but not necessarily saving you any money. It might cost you more money.
I’m on the organization and I’ve got a process and five or six people involved and I’m involved. How do you take and go in and analyze the process? Do you bring the stakeholders in? What do you do?
Typically, we start with the business user, and then we find out from them where their struggle is, their heartburn. “Here’s why I’m bringing you in, because we struggle with this process.”
Which could be the symptom.
Then we whiteboard. Our method is to sit down as if we’re part of their team and we start white boarding why we’re doing this. “Here’s the process, here’s where our heart burn is. Ultimately, if we can get rid of that, we’ve now improved our process in the bottom line. We’re saving money or we’re delivering product faster to our customer.” We typically go in, analyze the process, and then take a look at the solution set or tools that will help them get to their goal.
As the business owner, and I’ve got a pain point enough to the point where we reach out where you come. Between diagnosis and prescription, what’s that typically? Is there a typical timeframe?
A lot depends on the size of the heartburn, so giving a span of time is difficult at times, but typically we like to start with a department that first of all embraces technology. That’s a big important thing is that is has a good relationship with their IT department. There can be a lot of stress between business users and owners and the IT department. One of the trends I notice starting back in the early ‘80s is that the IT department drove most of the software or the technology projects.Now I use software, I can tell what kind of document it is, where it starts, where it ends, and then I can present it to a processor. Click To Tweet
Over the last ten years, it’s now the business owner driving it. IT, because of the way that the tool sets are set up, they’re aimed towards the business user. I know my business. IT doesn’t necessarily know my business or care about it and they shouldn’t. They should make sure the network is running and that I have plenty of space to store things and everything’s running efficiently and maybe monitoring bandwidth. That’s great. Now the business owner says, “Here’s the functions I need to happen. Make sure my infrastructure is working all right. I’m going to use products that support me.”
You got to be set up for additional storage capabilities clearly. If you go from not storing all your stuff to storing all your stuff, and there’s that estimation as well.
I guess the pinnacle is taking that group of users and understanding their heartburn and saying, “Let’s put together a pilot that says we’re going to address your problem and we’re going to put these three tools in place or X number tools in place,” and we’re going to say, “Give us a couple of months and we’ll run this in parallel with your current processes.”
When you are contacted by a company, are you typically contacted by the CEO, the CFO, or the IT folks?
These days, it’s usually the business owner and then they have support from their CTO or their CEO. Sometimes, the CFO. In the case of financial, we’re finding a lot of CFO-level managers come in and say, “We need to save some money here. We need to take our processes and start looking at where we can save money.”
Do they perceive they have a leak or do they know they have a leak?
They know the process is struggling. One of the things that I’ve seen customers of my clients want visibility into what they’re doing. “I sent you my information, what status is it in? How do I know what you’re doing? If I have to wait two weeks to find out it never got out of somebody’s Inbox, I’m not going to be a very happy customer.” Part of what we’ve noticed is that upper management, the C-level people as well as business owners go, “I need to be able to tell my customer exactly where they are in the process of us handling their transaction.”
We were talking about a potential case study. There were some metrics that you mentioned about a mortgage company. Let’s dig into that a little bit.
I mentioned that mortgage company where we started with baby steps. We’ve got a central location where we’re processing the paper, it’s electronic, we’re moving it around. Right now, we’re at about 98% paper, 2% electronic that shows up. The next step is to give incentive to vendors to say, “You no longer have to mail your stuff to us or ship it to us. We’re going to save you $10,000 a month because you’re not shipping us paper anymore. All you have to do is send it to this FTP site or you can attach it to an email. Send me the documents that way.” They gave their customers some incentive to save money, so now we’re shifting. We went from 95% plus of paper, to the first year, it was closer to 60% when they offered it. Then about six months after that, we were at 98% electronic, 2% paper. Today, they’re less than a percent paper. Almost everything is sent electronically.
If I’m the business owner of the mortgage company and the typical complaint from the person is going like, “I send my app and it goes to a black hole and nobody knows when it’s going to be done in my time has been in the processes forever.” For you, do you have tools within the process to say, “Our time from the front door to approval or disapproval is X?”
Yes. If we go back to that case study, we’ve taken the paper issue away from people having to deal with paper. We have electronic information and we’ve added another layer. Now I don’t have to do anything with the separator sheets. I’ve eliminated all that pre-processing because it’s electronic. Now I use software, I can tell what kind of document it is, where it starts, where it ends, and then I can present it to a processor to say, “The human is grading how the robot did.” The robot says it’s this, I need you to confirm it, so they do that.
The next step is we start extracting information off the document. Nobody’s entering data, they’re looking at it saying, “It got It right, the computer got it right,” or “We need to fix it.” The data now, we’re not only figuring out what we’ve got with our electronic information, we’ve figured out what we want to extract off of it. Then we bundle that all up together and start a workflow which says, “Now push it to the different analysts for them to start doing their job.” Now the SLA becomes measurable, the service level agreement. SLA is I received your paper at 10:00 in the morning and within 40 minutes, I’m going to get it to an analyst. That’s our SLA currently for our mortgage clients, is within 40 minutes, those analysts are looking at documents that have come in the door.
What do you think it was before?
Back at the beginning, the paper day, it was probably about three days before the analyst finally got it. Three days to less than 40 minutes.
I think about there’s this perceived benefit. You had all the paperwork hanging, you’ve now got this faster processor and the right person. What other things did they discover?
Storage paper. We used to store all these for X amount of time. Now it’s electronic.
They don’t have the storage costs anymore.
They freed up an entire floor of this building, then they can now bring in people to do more processing of loans, so that was a good benefit. Measurable times. Metrics now become real. Before, you were gray about how quickly somebody package something and delivered it.
Let’s say you’ve got person one through five, and number four is perennially slow. Can you get that granular?
If mortgage paperwork is like every other paperwork, what about compliance to retention and safeguarding of information? How was that dealt with?
When you consider it a record, and that’s another benefit of what happens with this. When I get my electronic documentation, I can do my sorting there. I’m not just putting everything in the repository and then doing something with it, because then I might be having to retain information that has nothing to do with my business. Now I’m able to filter that, and when something becomes a record, when I say it’s been through the person who validates the computer did it right. You’ve got the metadata or the search data correct, and we put it in a repository. Now I can turn on my retention and my compliance clocks and say, “From this point on, you have to keep this seven years or two years or whatever that document types rules apply.”
Let’s say we’re two years in one day and it says this many records are now no longer necessary. Is that automated or is that manual?
That’s an automated process that warns whoever is the person who can actually say, “Delete it.” They have the option to ignore it or they have the option to, “Let’s execute it, because this is data based on our industry and in the rules that we need to follow, I can destroy it.”
I think about data and pain-points. For you, you’ve attacked the large amount of paperwork management. There are some other areas that seem to be rather large pain-points in, was it payment side of the house?
The invoice process. Here’s another good use case of taking traditionally a paper based process and converting it into, “Let’s capture all of those invoices into one email box. Let’s tell our vendors they don’t have to send us paper anymore. Send us an email with the invoice attached and any of the supporting documentation.” Now we’re collecting that. Again, we apply that same model. I’m going to recognize what I have. I’m going to find out what’s the invoice. I’m going to find out the header, footer, total line item information, extract it. Maybe talk to my ERP system, the enterprise resource planning. It’s your accounting system that tracks all of your assets, everything from the bill of materials, if you’re manufacturing. Bill of materials to the product you’re delivering and the vendors you work with. “Here’s your vendor list and what their payment terms are.” The ERP is that nebulous thing that says, “Here’s what I track all my financials with.”
The invoice process, this capture process takes it, looks at what you have, and says, “Let me check the ERP system to make sure this PO number, purchase order number, is something we actually did. I found it. Now I’m going to check the line items to make sure what they’re billing this matches with what they agreed to in the purchase order. If all that marries up, I can send that right along and get it paid.” But I only have to pay it when it’s due, because I know that it’s due in 30 days. By the way, if I pay in 20 days, I got a 10% discount. Now my system can say, “You get a discount here, so pay in 20 days instead of 30 days when it’s due.” Those are the kinds of things that you can put in place that will allow you to take that paper process and manual authorization and coding and you’d still have to go look up if it was right in the ERP system. A lot of steps get saved when I can automate that for you.
From the CFO standpoint, if you look at before the expense versus the after-automation expense, what percentage of savings do you usually see?
The good way to look at it as what does it cost me today to process an invoice. The average is right around $19 to $20 per invoice if you’re doing it manually. I typically go in and say, “If you’re actually doing a paper process, I can immediately save you 50%. I can cut a $20 invoice down to $10.” If you’re already automated, maybe some of those pieces are automated, I still have the ability to shrink that down another 50%, and I’m being conservative because you can usually do quite a bit better than that, but you always start a little bit. I’m going conservative because I don’t want to tell somebody, “You’re going to shrink your costs by 80%,” because their process may not support that, and that’s part of that.
When we land and we first meet with people, we look at what they’re doing and saying. “If you want us to duplicate this process, we’re not going to be able to help you, so we’re not a good fit. However, if you can look at ways to improve the process, now we’re talking. Our savings increase as you’re willing to change your process.” That culturally can be a challenge, people like to do things a certain way. You also have to convince your vendors and your customers to take advantage of this new process that you’re implementing. The mortgage company offering the ability to say, “If you send it here, because they’re not shipped this anymore, I just saved you how much.” That motivated every one of their customers to go.
Let’s say you started before and your process gets sorted out and you want to automate your process. I think about what level of visibility changes do you see for the CFO now that everything’s automated in real time?
You can think of these things in steps and layers. There’s an analytics piece which says, “As I’m processing these invoices or whatever document I’m processing from when it comes into the door to when I actually view it, approve it, do what I need to do with it and dispose of it, I start collecting data along the way. Now, I can do two things. I can look at how quickly I’m processing the data, the lifespan of that product or that transaction, and I can allow people views.”Let’s say I have a website for my customers and they want to go, “I submitted this loan, I want to know where it is in the process.”
Now I can present dashboards that represent that particular user’s loan and show them where they’re at in the process visually. It got into the door, got to the analyst today, and 40 minutes after I delivered it. Right now, they’re working on approving or they sent me a notice back that says, “I need some additional bank information,” or “Give me some additional job history because we need to check something.” That interactive model becomes elevated because I have all the analytics, I have all the information I’ve captured, and I can display that publicly to a website for the person logging in and say you’re a customer of mine, I get access to that information.
I think about the different suite data in Intel. As all the stuff is coming in and it could be sitting in the inbox, it could be sitting in the bin on the table and they go, “How are we doing on the invoicing or receivables or any of that?” You go, “I don’t know,” because you get paid when you hit the stack versus you’ve got this process. I think about the lending institution that work with the companies that have this in place. If they’re interested on accounts receivable or aged or how fast you do it or would you mind working or whatever, I would think that this is extremely important.There's a whole industry waiting out there to enjoy more of this automated processing. Click To Tweet
That accountability, the metrics. How long did it sit in the inbox? Until you can measure that, you’re guessing. You can’t predict, so unless you’ve got somebody watching somebody and timing them, it’s not going to happen, but electronically, I know when it hits the door. If I have a process that’s measuring it and recording those steps along the way, I can give you that information down to the second.
When I think about traditional, I think about warehouses and shipping and that stuff. Without necessarily disclosing client, what’s the most unusual business that you’ve done this automation for that comes to mind?
I guess probably the mortgage industry and manufacturing are very similar in so far as how quickly something needs to get processed. When I’m working with a mortgage company, the process and approval of that loan is huge. That’s where they make their money. The shorter time they sit on that, the more money they make, so that’s huge. In manufacturing we found it’s not so much. For example, in the invoice processing in a large manufacturing firm, their benefit was they could increase the number of vendors that they could process with the same set of people, so my staffing stays the same as things grow, because my funnel is electronic, not paper.
I don’t have to hire more people to process more. My system does a lot of the intelligence. I know what I’ve got, I’ve extracted information, I’ve looked up the information and validated it, and I just identify exceptions instead of watching everything go through. What we found with manufacturing is now I can take advantage of not only not increasing staff and handling more vendors, start taking advantage of discounts. There’s a huge savings there in the fact that I know exactly when to pay this to save me the most money.
The thing too is if you don’t know where it is in the chain, if you’re manufacturing, you have the tendency to keep more on hand because you don’t know any better.
You can order based on the receipts. There’s a whole industry waiting out there to enjoy more of this automated processing, so there’s still a lot of paper receivables and things that come in daily in these manufacturing that we’ve begun to touch. The invoice processing is great, and now we’re working on how to work with receivables and bill of ladings and tracking that back to what we’ve processed in the invoice.
Before we go too far, if there’s somebody out there going like, “I need to call you because we have those problems.” Before I forget, how do they find you on social media or how do they reach out to you to chat with you?
If you do any kind of a Google search on most accounts payable information, we show up there somewhere, LinkedIn, Buddha Logic. We specialize certainly in the accounts payable world. We’ve also gotten into digital signatures as well, which supports that. I talked about that process where wire transfers have to be done eight to fifteen times a day and tracking people down. We built solutions that handle all that electronically and actually put your wet signature on the document. It does this cursive thing. We use wet signatures, so we’ve built a system that allows you to do that. Definitely LinkedIn.
Our website, www.BuddhaLogic.com. We got a lot of information there. We have a number of case studies and white papers and we have blogs. We also do webinars and we’ve had a couple of panel discussions so we have some things out on our YouTube channel that you can dial in on.
You are national. You’re not just Denver.
That’s correct. We have a number of clients in different areas. One of the choice of being in this business is remote work as possible. We like to be on site when we’re meeting people. It’s important for us to establish a relationship. I don’t like to fire clients, but if it’s not a good fit, we were happy to say it’s not a good fit.
You’re looking to make a profound difference.
Right, and you’ve got to enjoy what you do, which is why we’re in the business.
I wanted to make sure that folks knew how to reach out to you and that’s important. If they’re on the fence as to whether they should do something or not, there’s no harm in making a phone call to understand that. They should reach out and do that.
We provide a free assessment. I’ll come in and sit with whoever’s struggling for a couple hours. What I’ve found is that most of the heartburn that businesses have is very similar. The only difference is how they handle that process, where they could refine it, make it better. It’s easy to come in and say, “I understand where your struggles are. I think we can help you out and here’s some ideas on how we might do that.”
For the business owner, the size of the problem dictates the pricing. When you look at a business and you go, “I have seen this problem before.” By and large, you can give a range of estimates that the business owner knows what to think about.
What’s nice too about the products and how things are maturing, is the price to automate is coming down. It is a good sign. Right now, we have an option that you can do all your invoicing at per invoice costs online. It’s a cloud-based solution. There’s alternatives for the very small business that says, “I’m not ready to take the big bite input in a $50,000 system that takes care of it. I only do 400 invoices a month, so let me do it per invoice.” Those solutions are out there so you can find that niche.
If you have a larger environment where you’re processing a thousand invoices a week, let’s look at how we can help you do that in justifying that initial costs which could run depending on how many users you have, anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 and what you want out of it, we can show very quickly. If I can save you 50% per invoice that you process and you’re processing a thousand a week, we’d seem very inexpensive, and it really is if you look at that in terms of a year. “I spent $250,000 and I’ve saved $750,000.” The C level, “We’re now we’re interested enough to take the next step and let’s do an assessment and find out what that looks.”
We talked around a little bit, what do you think the biggest misconception that potential customers or the industry has about what you do?
It’s the fact that they have to turn it on all at once. That’s one of the misconceptions, and I try to correct that right up front. We can take a slice of what you’re doing and we were a big believer in let’s find that friendly department and let’s take a couple of vendors. Maybe it’s not necessarily your big ones, but ones that you work well with, and let’s automate them. Let’s show that we can do this in a small fashion, and then roll it out. We work on selling a platform with solutions on top of it. Oftentimes, somebody will come in and say, “We can handle your AP. That’s all we do,” but we’d say, “That’s where we’ll start. We’re going to build this on a foundation, so after you’ve seen what we can do with AP, let’s go look at your contracting.”
On the same platform, let’s take a lot of what we’ve done here and apply to what you do with contracts or digital signature. Now we’re going to handle all of your wire requests or whatever those things that require somebody to approve and pass information around. We’re doing it all on the same platform. You’ve already invested in the platform, you’ve paid for the AP solution, but now let’s go build other solutions that will sit on that platform. That’s the other thing. A lot of times they’d go, “This is great, but that’s in their system I’m going to have to support.”
I think talking to the C-suite, we can start here, evaluate and go, “Yes, no.”I think that’s extremely important for the folks who are listening. I’ve had vendor told me things before, “Here’s an opportunity to take and test it out, make sure that once you get proof of concept then you go, ‘Here’s the next department, here’s the next department.’” You were talking about a new focus that you are heading towards, robotic process automation.
This has been around a little while, but it’s becoming more rich so far as how it handles processes and activities that a human typically does. For example, let’s say I need to reconcile a bill that’s just come in from a vendor. Now oftentimes, for example, the mortgage company we work with, they work with a big vendor that handles a lot of their loan processing pieces. They do a lot of services, and each month they get a spreadsheet that has every service item for all of the different accounts they support. It comes in and literally somebody sits down and goes through the spreadsheet and updates and other spreadsheets. That spreadsheet then gets confirmed with some database look ups and then they go in and they have another table that they update. One person was spending close to a month processing one bill and they got every month, so it was one full time employee to handle billing from this one company. Now granted, they did a lot of things for them, so it’s not a trivial task.
Introduce a robot to it. Now what I’m going to do with this robot is I’m going to take this spreadsheet that I would normally open up in one screen and open up the spreadsheet I’m going to feed and start collecting data and entering in it based on what I’m seeing. This human is what they call swivel chair, putting the data here, swiveling over entering it over here. The tool sets that are available now comes in and says, “I’m going to do that for you. You’re going to tell me which cells I’m interested in and where they need to go so I can automate that entire process.”
What we did was we took this bill that went in and rather than populating another spreadsheet, again, here’s this idea of “Let’s look at your process. Let’s populate a database,” that now, anybody in the company can access that needs to start getting the data out of it. We’re going to put it into a central location that can feed everything. What we did was we took the bill that came in and less than ten seconds, the robot populated the entire database with every service line. If you go back a few years, it’s like recording a macro in an Excel. I’m going to do these eight steps and I’m going to record a macro, so every time I hit this button or this key, it does this for them. In some ways, it’s very similar.
It’s highly customizable to the keystroke.
It does things such as web crawling or it’ll go out to a webpage. For example, part of this process where we’re doing reconciliation, the person normally would have to go out to the portal for that client and it has to do some look up on there. Now the robot can not only do that, it can log in, it can get that information and populate it. Now I’ve eliminated not only entering the data into another spreadsheet, I’ve actually validated that the data’s there, exists on that portal, and I can go get additional information from it and continue the process.
That’s the data fetch and then you can create intel post data fetch.
You can scrape. Even if it’s a mainframe, I can login if it’s the old green screen where you have to type in, these tool sets now allow you to do that. Enter the information, scrape what you’re looking for, it’ll actually parse through the screen and find what you’re interested in, whether it’s a screen scrape or if it’s a webpage, those things are available to you now. We’re excited. We’re seeing a lot of opportunity in manufacturing as well.
What would be a good case study of an application that you’ve done recently with that?
Let’s say onboarding for HR. I’ve got a candidate and I have a website out there and you say, “Anybody who is applying for this job, you need to fill out this information for me and hits submit.” Now I have a robot that’s sitting in the background grabs that name, says, “I’m going to check LinkedIn.”
If it’s going to be me, I’m going to Bob Roark. There’s 42 Bob Roark’s on the planet. How does it distinguish between me, Bob Roark, and Bob Roark number two?
Depending on what you’re prompted to supply in the application process, it’s going to go out and say, “I’m going to go look out in LinkedIn. I’m going to look, find all the Bob Roark’s in LinkedIn. Then I’m going to look at their address. That’s nothing I can compare to. Maybe there’s an email address then. Now I’m getting closer,” or there really were ten Bob Roark’s. I’m going to let the person know who is going to end up reviewing this information that there are ten of them out there, and I’ll bring all the information associated with all ten of them back.Be patient. Make sure you enjoy what you're doing. Surround yourself with people you like to work with. Click To Tweet
It would be great too, eventually, visual recognition. If you have to supply a picture with what your application is, I can do a visual look at the LinkedIn photo and here’s your photo you submitted. This is pretty close. This is probably the right guy.” Part of the robot not only can you have the intelligence to go find all the Bob Roark’s, you can probably do a pretty good job of saying, “My best guess is it’s the first or the second one,” based on other information that’s gathered during that application process.
You can pull from the LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter?
Anything that I can log into and do a search, it can go find that information.
But it can’t do DMV?
If it’s a public website, which the DMV should be, and if you’ve supplied them a driver’s license number, it should be able to go back and pull that information out. In fact, they’re getting to the point now where unless it requires your individual password. If it’s a site that’s publicly accessible or maybe you pay a fee for a service that does criminal background checks and all you need to do is because I’m an authorized user, the robot logs in as that user and goes and looks for all that information and pulls it back for you. You’re taking that HR staff person that used to sit down and do all this work and you’re letting them do the review. They become the subject matter expert that says, “I don’t need to send this to somebody to go take the interview. I can eliminate that right away because the results came back. Obviously it’s not going to be a fit.” Rather than collecting everything and then determining, I’m going right to, “Here are the results. Send it on or send them the letter saying, ‘Thank you, but we’ve found somebody better.’”
I think about the applications of that as far as many different industries. I would imagine that’s going to prompt a phone call or two. We’re heading down toward the tail end of all of this. Things that I should’ve asked you about that I didn’t?
I think you’ve covered most of them. I think our core strengths are getting to know the client’s process and understanding where they want to go with the process, what is their goal. Then we have a rich set of tools as well as knowledge and a lot of things that worked well and a number of things that fell on space. We’ve had enough bumps and bruises along the way as well as very good success stories, and we enjoy what we do. We bring that to the table no matter who the client is.
In parting advice as an entrepreneur to perhaps some of the other budding entrepreneurs, any parting advice or guidance you might offer?
Be patient. That’s a huge thing. Make sure you enjoy what you’re doing, because you’re going to spend a lot of time doing that. I’m happy I enjoy what I do, because there are hours that go by. Those are important. Surround yourself with people you like to work with.
Charlie, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule.
We have a couple things coming up. One is a limited seating business process and automation workshop demonstration coming up in Cherry Creek at the Office Evolutions. The information is on our website. Please feel free to check in. I think it would be helpful for anybody who’s maybe thinking about doing this or is on the edge. We can give them some good general ideas of how to approach it and maybe how to present it to your management, because a lot of times people struggle with, “How do I go justify what I’m doing?” We like to be able to give you tools that’ll help you do that.
Reach out and go on the website and see what you can do and maybe that one coming up they will be able to watch a webinar or a video to take over the same topic. I appreciate you bringing that to my attention. Listeners, if you’ve got time, sign up, let them know.
Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity to be here, Bob. It’s been very enjoyable.
I appreciate it. It’s been fun to learn things I had no idea about that. Thanks so much.
About Charlie Weidman
Solutions architect and chief technical officer specializing in the design, development, implementation and delivery of distributed client/server and n-tier Enterprise Content Capture, Content Management, Records Retention, Business Process Automation, Robotic Process Automation and Smart Process Applications/Solutions.
Specialties: Kofax Kapow v10.2, Kofax TotalAgility (KTA) v6-v7.x, Kofax Capture (KC) v8-10.x, Kofax Transformation Modules (KT) v3.5-6.x, PSICapture, PSIFusion, PSISafe and Documentum v3-7.x .
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