Intelligent Document Processing 101: An Introductory Guide

According to Grand View Research, the intelligent document processing (IDP) sector reached a market size of $1.2 billion in 2021.

Researchers estimate that the field of document intelligence will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.7% through 2030, which signifies that businesses across a broad range of industries are adopting IDP technologies at a blistering pace. 

There’s a strong business case for intelligent document processing solutions, as these technologies accelerate an organization’s ability to extract, process, structure, and analyze data from both physical and digital documents.

Incorporating document intelligence tools into your organization’s workflow can yield significant and immediate business benefits, including enhanced productivity and increased efficiency.

With that in mind, here’s a closer look at the exciting field of intelligent document processing, including the kinds of technologies it entails, signs that you should integrate it into your business model, and the benefits of embracing IDP solutions. 

What Is Intelligent Document Processing?
Intelligent document processing is a form of workflow automation that leverages both artificial intelligence (AI) and optical character recognition (OCR) technologies to scan, read, extract, categorize, and structure document information to increase consistency, usability and accessibility.

Alternatively referred to as intelligence document automation, IDP can process information from a wide variety of sources, including Word docs, Google docs, paper forms, PDFs, spreadsheets, and even hand-written documents. The primary purpose of IDP is to rapidly extract data from large sets of documents with little to no human input.

Intelligent document processing technologies fall under the umbrella of document intelligence (DI). The field of document intelligence includes any AI-powered solution that facilitates the intelligent automation of document intake and management practices. 

Venn diagram

Attended vs. Unattended Intelligent Document Automation
Most of the time, intelligent document automation technologies run in an independent (also known as unattended) state. This means that the technology functions with little to no human input. Fully unattended technologies allow businesses to achieve true end-to-end automation.

While achieving a state of unattended automation is the ultimate goal, IDP technologies sometimes require human intervention — or, “training.” For example, if IDP cannot identify a required field or does not meet a certain confidence threshold when analyzing a document, a human would need to manually review the data to ensure it is accurate and complete. The technology would then learn from the human intervention and should be able to recognize that same scenario or field the next time it comes up.

Document Types and How Intelligent Document Processing Is Applied
Intelligent document processing is applied differently depending on the type of documents being processed. Documents are generally classified into one of three broad categories:

StructuredSemi-Structured  Unstructured

Let’s dig in!

Structured DocumentStructured

Structured fields include repetitive documents and forms with a fixed template. These documents may include such data as:

  • Checkboxes
  • Signatures
  • Date/Time
  • Social Security Number
  • Handwritten text

Data in structured documents can easily be read and applied to business processes because it’s labeled and standardized. 

IDP uses a rule-based approach to process data that’s fixed in a specific format. With this protocol, it can process standardized forms, time sheets, licenses, passports, etc.

Semi-Structured DocumentSemi-Structured

Semi-structured documents contain some repetitive features, such as a similar layout. However, these documents also include variable components like tables. Examples include receipts, purchase orders, utility bills, and bank statements. 

Data in semi-structured documents may include some labels or other indicators that reveal what sort of information the documents contain but hasn’t been completely classified, meaning it’s not ready for use. 

IDP technology uses a model-based approach to process semi-structured documents, meaning it extracts the same information from each document. 

Unstructured DocumentUnstructured

Data in unstructured documents aren’t properly labeled, organized, or sorted in any meaningful way, making it extremely difficult to analyze, process, and leverage for decision-making purposes.

Unstructured documents also lack a fixed format. This is because unstructured documents include emails, drug prescriptions, contracts, voice scripts, handwritten text, and news articles. Intelligent document processing software has to read the text to extract meaning and identify important information. 

Sorting through semi-structured and unstructured documents using human workers is time-consuming, tedious, and labor-intensive. Intelligent document processing solutions alleviate these pain points by reducing the likelihood of human errors and processing all types of data with superior efficiency. 
Signs That Your Organization Needs Intelligent Document Processing
Intelligent document processing technologies can empower your business to fulfill its digital transformation goals and tap into actionable insights. The versatility and functionality of document intelligence solutions make them the ideal fit for organizations across all industries.

Embracing the intelligent document automation movement can also help your organization overcome its data management challenges and be more productive. If you’re unsure whether now is the right time to adopt IDP, here are some signs to watch for:

You’re Drowning in DocumentsDrowning in Documents

Between digital and physical forms, your organization likely collects dozens, if not hundreds, of documents every single week spanning across multiple document types.

Ingesting so many forms can quickly inundate your staff with data and lead to a seemingly inescapable processing bottleneck. Consequently, your team will perpetually be stuck in “catch-up” mode, staying days or even weeks behind schedule. 

When your team starts drowning in the number and types of documents you take in, you must act fast. If this problem goes unresolved, two things will happen.

First, team morale will plummet, as your staff will be overworked and stretched too thin. When workers are faced with impossible tasks or tasks they perceive as non-value add, their natural response is often to put forth less effort.

Furthermore, from an operational perspective, a large number of documents and data will go unused, meaning you’ll be forced to make business decisions without having access to all relevant information. In the worst-case scenario, blind decision-making can lead to missed opportunities and lost revenue.

Intelligent document processing technologies can alleviate the burden on your team and give them the tools they need to process all that data. By tapping into the data you collect, you can inform decision-making, obtain actionable business insights, and sprint toward organizational goals.

Data Quality is LacklusterData Quality

Manual document processing strategies aren’t just inefficient. They also increase the likelihood of errors.

While the occasional mistake may not greatly impact overall data quality, too many errors inevitably will. Poor quality data can impede decision-making and negatively impact the customer experience.

Intelligent document processing can significantly reduce or potentially eliminate data intake and organization errors. With IDP, you can increase overall data quality, reliability, and useability. You can then use this information to fuel your analytical processes, detect trends, and make business decisions quickly. 

Errors, Costs, and Processing Times Are MountingCosts

Wasted time and capital are the enemies of progress. However, if your organization still relies on manual document processing strategies, you may inadvertently be undermining your path forward by absorbing unnecessary costs. If processing time, expenses, and errors are starting to pile up, it’s time to make a change.

Intelligent document processing technologies enable your business to cut costs, drastically reduce document processing time, reduce errors, and get more done.

You can increase document processing capacity without bringing in more team members or taking on too much overhead. Your new investment will yield a strong ROI, and you will realize near-instant business impacts. 
6 Key Business Benefits of Intelligent Document Processing
Employing intelligent document processing technologies can be hugely advantageous to businesses on both a microscopic and macroscopic level. By making use of intelligent document processing technology, your organization can secure the following benefits.

Accelerate Digital Transformation Efforts

Digital transformation is the process of “using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes.” No digital transformation journey is complete until you modernize antiquated form-processing strategies using document intelligence technologies.

Intelligent document processing solutions will have a direct impact on your transformation and can also fuel later efforts. Digitizing all of your documents and structuring massive amounts of organizational data will support the adoption of other technologies, like advanced analytics and forecasting software. 

Improve Employee and Customer Satisfaction

Intelligent document automation technologies can accelerate your responsiveness and enable your business to address customer concerns faster. You can process orders quicker, significantly reduce the likelihood of error with customer shipments, and demonstrate that you value your clients.

IDP software also elevates the employee experience. Your team will no longer have to spend hours engaging in tedious, mundane tasks that don’t engage their true strengths. Instead, they can apply their talents to high-value work and meaningful objectives.

Increase Existing Team’s Productivity

When facing a severe document intake logjam, your first inclination may be to bring in more staff. While hiring additional team members is a part of the growth journey, taking on too many new hires too soon can negatively impact liquidity and impede expansion. 

Intelligent document processing technologies solve this problem by empowering your existing team to get more done. Every staff member will be more productive, as they’ll be able to automate redundant tasks.

Reducing your team’s workload to manageable levels will quickly lead to higher levels of morale, better long-term productivity, and increased engagement. Driving employee engagement is vital to business continuity, as highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to quit their jobs.

Improve Data Quality and Accuracy

According to recent research, 75% of executives don’t trust their organizations’ data. This is indicative of a data intake and management issue that’s permeated multiple industries. While document processing is only a part of the equation, it’s perhaps the most important lever businesses can manipulate to improve data quality.

Intelligent document processing solutions enhance data in two ways. First, they reduce or eliminate the need for human input, thereby decreasing errors. Additionally, IDP solutions allow businesses to capture, extract, and use larger quantities of data.

By expanding the size and diversity of datasets, businesses can arrive at a more complete picture of the challenges they face.

Provide a Bridge Solution

Intelligent document automation tools bridge the gap between intake and analysis. Businesses can’t derive true value from robust analytical solutions unless they supply these platforms with vast quantities of reliable, accurate, high-quality data. 

With IDP, businesses can avoid the “garbage in, garbage out” conundrum and feed their analytics software with the data it needs to yield actionable insights. 

Promote Process Auditability

Heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare must be ever-mindful of the latest regulatory requirements.

For decades, these spaces have been closely monitored by regulatory authorities, meaning organizations must remain audit-ready to avoid fines and protect their reputations. However, recent legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act has also applied stringent data management and privacy regulations to other industries. 

Intelligent document processing solutions can help your business keep pace with these new laws. You can improve transparency across the entire organization, more effectively track, manage, and categorize data, and ensure that you’re doing your part to preserve consumer privacy. 
Industry-Specific Use Cases for Intelligent Document Processing Technologies
Intelligent document processing technologies can be a valuable addition to a diverse array of private or public sector organizations, including entities operating in these industries.

Financial ServicesFinancial services

Financial services businesses like banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, and equity firms can use intelligent document processing technologies to accomplish the following:

  • Process accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • File IRS forms
  • Process loan applications
  • Expedite mortgage processing
  • Open accounts and onboard customers
  • Process claims
  • Onboard vendors
  • Support compliance-related functions

In the fast-paced world of finance, IDP solutions can give institutions the edge they need to streamline the customer experience and maximize productivity. Insurance organizations can also take advantage of document intelligence technologies to process claims and expedite the delivery of service.

Human ResourcesHuman resources

Intelligent document processing solutions can greatly benefit standalone human resources firms and internal HR teams. They can use these technologies to support tasks like:

  • Employee onboarding
  • Resume screening
  • HR records processing
  • I-9 verifications

Adopting IDP makes it possible for HR teams to save time, reduce costs, and prevent potentially catastrophic errors. As a result, they’re also better able to serve employees and clients. 

Public SectorPublic sector

Intelligent document processing solutions can revolutionize virtually every public sector entity, from state and local agencies to schools and utility companies. All of these entities can use IDP to expedite document processing services, serve their communities, reduce friction from interactions with citizens, and more.

A few key use cases for IDP in the public sector include:

  • Filing school applications
  • Processing benefits claims
  • Filing reports
  • Fraud auditing
  • Administering DMV services
  • Creating standardized forms
  • Processing state and local government-mandated forms and applications

Historically, public sector entities are known for long turnaround times and slow processes. IDP can help them deliver better service, improve their public image, and strengthen relationships with community members. 


Despite significant advancements in medical technology, the healthcare industry’s back-end processes are still largely reliant on outdated document management practices. These processes can make receiving care tedious, lead to long claims processing times, and add undue friction to the patient experience. 

Healthcare businesses can use intelligent document automation to remove this friction and automate the handling of documents like:

  • Medical forms
  • Medical bills
  • Drug prescriptions
  • Health records
  • Claims
  • Insurance

When IDP is applied throughout an organization’s workflow, it can streamline the revenue cycle and enhance the delivery of care.


The logistics space can apply intelligent document processing technologies for:

  • Load/unload processing
  • Capturing customer requests
  • Invoice and claims processing

In the competitive and saturated logistics sector, every business is looking for ways to cut costs, improve efficiency, and differentiate themselves from competitors. 

Strategically integrating intelligent document processing into the business model can help manufacturers achieve their short and long-term goals while improving the customer service experience.  
Embrace Document Intelligence
Intelligent document processing technologies are foundational to the success of your digital transformation initiative.

Strategically integrating document intelligence solutions into your workflows will enhance your ability to ingest, capture, extract, categorize, and process data. You can use this newly available data to support analytics processes and guide decision-making. 

Interested in learning more about intelligent document processing technologies and how they can reshape your organization? If so, connect with UDig today. During your consultation, we’ll explore how your business can embrace IDP to support your ongoing evolution.