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Barry Sowerwine Joins Applica as Board Advisor

I am extremely excited to announce that I have joined Applica as a Board Advisor. Why am I so excited? Simply put, Applica is solving problems that were previously unsolvable. I am excited because Applica’s technology is the future and it’s available today. Let me repeat that – other vendors focused on automation talk about it in the context of a “future vision” (24-36 months from now), Applica is delivering it today. What’s even better? With pre-trained models, Applica can be deployed in weeks by business analysts, achieving 90%+ straight through processing. While it may seem “impossible”, Applica is doing it today!

When we look at the most labor-intensive workflows that exist in business, where are we spending most of our time? Why is it so labor intensive? Where can automation have the biggest impact? I would suggest we spend most of our time trying to comprehend the written word contained in complex documents and determining what to do with it. Most of the time, dealing with these documents is very repetitive and binary requiring a low level of thinking – we spend time reading it, understanding it, analyzing it, verifying , and dis-positioning it. In fact, the average knowledge worker spends almost 30% of their time handling complex documents. What if 90%+ of these situations no longer required human involvement? What if these solutions were truly leveraging machine learning and could be implemented in weeks with business analysts instead of months with highly technical engineers? Applica is delivering that reality today.

In many respects, this is one of the last areas of a business to go through automation. Historically, semi-structured (e.g.: financial statements with tables) and unstructured (e.g.: legal contracts) documents could not be automated – it required humans to handle. With advancements in OCR and Computer Vision, innovative companies have made attempts to automate these complex documents, but the results have been disappointing. Templated or “form-based” documents have experienced some level of success because these documents have inherent structure, but the unstructured and semi-structured documents have remained elusive. Forward thinking organizations have not given up and continue to test new approaches and methods, but the level of effort for each use case is significant.

When I was first introduced to Applica, I was highly skeptical. Having spent time in the industry, I knew this set of problems (complex documents) was an extraordinarily complex challenge to solve. From everything I had come to know, no technology vendor was anywhere close to figuring it out. While there were many technology companies focused on it, most were only automating “structured” documents and the vendors even attempting the semi-structured documents were either doing it poorly (straight through processing < 60%) or it required a lengthy and expensive effort for the limited set of use cases being attempted. When it came to automating completely unstructured documents, there was almost nothing. Needless to say, when I started reading the Applica website, I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. From my perspective, it simply couldn’t be true. An 80-person company that was based in Poland couldn’t have solved this massive problem, could they? Now, after significant research, multiple conversations and demos, I am a believer! Applica is for real! It’s for real and it will blow you away! Applica is going to improve the human experience by eliminating and minimizing the time we spend handling complex documents (structured, semi-structured, and unstructured).

So why is Applica able to solve these problems when the rest of the market is struggling or outright failing?

  • Applica combines the best of two worlds – deep-learning-driven NLP and Computer Vision that leverages Applica’s proprietary research in layout-aware neural language modeling (LAMBERT)
  • 2D Contextual Awareness leverages machine learning in the form of deep neural networks when applying algorithms from computational linguistics and Computer Vision. This closely mimics the way a human works with documents containing various layouts (e.g.: forms, tables, reports, etc.) and considers both textual and graphical aspects before finalizing the results
  • Based upon sophisticated algorithms using GPUs
  • Contextually extracts information from documents – each data point is given an interpretation in context
  • Multilingual and pre-trained in 11 major languages, with 100+ languages coming in Q1’21
  • Bot Store – a marketplace of pre-trained models for various use cases
  • Rapid deployment (implementation) and maintenance by non-experts
  • Contextual Awareness technology allows models to be trained with 90%+ less training data
  • Applica’s R&D department includes over 30 PhDs

Here are some sample uses cases and complex document processes currently being automated by Applica:

Whenever you can leverage technology to automate completely manual processes, the efficiency gains are enormous. Recognized by Gartner as a 2020 “Cool Vendor” in the Natural Language Technology space, Applica is well on its way to becoming a household name in the automation market.

I absolutely love technology that truly improves the human experience. I am convinced that any technology company that is successful automating complex documents will unlock a massive market opportunity. I believe that company is Applica and I am “over the top” excited about working with them!