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Impira and Snowflake work together to supercharge your unstructured data

Snowflake's Product leader, Saurin Shah, and Impira Co-Founder and CEO, Ankur Goyal, are pretty passionate about access to data. In this post, they've discussed how financial services organizations can gain a competitive edge by tapping into all the data they have at their fingertips to win more business and break apart from the crowd.

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Your data isn’t a neat freak, keeping itself perfectly tidy and organized. In fact, most enterprise data is unstructured, messy, and derived from a wide variety of sources. 

Despite these organizational challenges, data warehouses do a pretty good job enabling businesses to leverage their data. Still, the majority of enterprise data is unstructured and historically difficult to analyze within a warehouse. Only 18% of businesses today are leveraging their unstructured data.

If you can be part of that elite 18%, what happens next? In competitive industries like finance, insurance, and tech, you’ll have a leg up on customer insights and services. In other words, getting a handle on unstructured data brings a massive competitive advantage. 

Tackling unstructured data in financial services

Banks, financial institutions, and capital markets are constantly engaged in efforts to digitally transform. Unstructured data can be one of the more intimidating aspects of digital transformation; but it isn’t going anywhere. Within unstructured data, there lies intelligence that can completely revolutionize financial services. 

For financial institutions, unstructured data comes from everywhere: call center logs, CRM systems, earnings reports, financial filings, emails, survey responses, and internal research presentations, to name a few. Without the tools to harvest this data into a database format, this data sits unused. 

No matter their level of data sophistication, all financial services organizations are intensely data-driven. Getting a handle on unstructured data means unlocking enhanced customer insight and engagement. It could lead to the development of new products and services. It brings new levels of transparency into customer preferences and organizational failures. It allows financial services institutions to keep pace with leaner, more agile disruptor startups who tend to be digitally-led. 

Plus, traditional financial services institutions tend to have better enterprise capabilities, more powerful network infrastructure, and larger brand recognition. When they can harness digital analytics to make better decisions, they combine the digital power of the lean startup and the traditional influence of their legacy brand. 

The right tools can help modernize a legacy technology system. However new platforms require capital expenditures, planning, integration, migration and rollout. When it comes to new technologies, regulatory requirements also need to be considered. Each new tool that is folded into the data lifecycle must be able to adapt to all of the above factors. 

Impira and the evolution of the PDFs 

The PDF is an essential document that lies at the core of many organizations, especially in legacy sectors like insurance, finance, and healthcare. It’s also a notoriously cumbersome document that can be inflexible, difficult to edit, and tricky to extract. 

Impira unlocks the data from stored documents like PDFs, which reside in disparate corners of an organization. Through machine learning, Impira combines unstructured storage and intelligent document processing. It becomes much easier to extract clean, structured data from any PDF file. 

Snowflake and Impira now have a native integration, so that you can analyze PDF documents directly in your own data warehouse.

The holistic partnership between structured and unstructured data 

The use of unstructured data like images, videos, audio, and documents has proliferated in the past few years. Several organizations have adopted Snowflake Data Cloud as their data lake / central repository for analytics data. With tools like Snowflake, organizations are looking to gain a competitive edge by leveraging unstructured data. Specifically, the ability to read and process unstructured data like PDF documents can yield a new level of insight that competitors might not access. That’s because unstructured documents can be cumbersome, often requiring advanced machine learning algorithms to make sense and produce insight. 

Snowflake Data Cloud recently added support for unstructured data functionality in general availability. The support for unstructured data management includes built-in capabilities to store, access, process, manage, govern, and share unstructured data in Snowflake. These new data cloud capabilities tie together key data that help business leaders make more informed decisions.

Snowflake's integration with Impira is the perfect solution for customers to derive meaningful insights from those complex documents. Integrations like this are happening just in time, as unstructured data is growing by 55-60% each year. A 2018 study predicted big data investments in financial services would grow from $9 billion to a whopping $14 billion in just three years.

The Holy Grail of data means a holistic partnership between unstructured and structured data. 

Enabling unstructured data storage is really just the beginning. The savviest organizations will unite both unstructured and structured data in a way that boosts faster and more accurate decision-making. Decisions like: 

  • Reconciling invoice payments with an ERP system – by verifying the accuracy of statements and reports and increasing the efficiency of transaction-processing, the entire invoice payment process can get faster and more accurate
  • Adding additional context to customer 360 view – by joining data from the CRM with policy documents, contracts, and other forms, financial institutions can paint a clearer picture of the customer profile and the customer journey 
  • The search through archived invoices – with better capacity to search and analyze, it’s easier to find historical trends of specific vendors
  • Loss run report analysis – You can improve underwriting in commercial insurance with better analysis 

Impira + Snowflake in action

Within the insurance industry, ACORD forms cause headaches across the board. They’re often costly and require manual intervention to process the data within. However, using the right automation technology, you save time and money.

Normally, entering customer information from ACORD forms into your system of record is monotonous and error-prone. But insurance companies are required to do it as governed by the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD). It often means reams of paper and data-entry discrepancies. Insurance agents receive these documents in every form imaginable — email, fax, snail mail — that then have to be entered into the computer. 

Impira incorporates adaptable machine learning that anyone can use to extract data from documents and organize it into usable data sets. takes optical character recognition (OCR) to a completely new level. Having access to these automations means Snowflake users can unlock valuable unstructured data with more meaning and utility for any of their downstream purposes, including the notoriously cumbersome ACORD forms process. 

The next frontier of data decision-making 

Innovative businesses are ready to unite data to make better decisions. The old way of relying on scraping and cleaning by a human is costly and likely to be riddled with errors. The right tools can reduce the incumbent technical complexities of yesterday, and bring costs and manual hours way down. With integrations like the Snowflake + Impira partnership, storage and data processing can catapult its way into a new era. It’s also relatively low-effort to implement, and will immediately reduce or eradicate common data analysis and entry errors. 

As business drive to connect daily business systems across the org, AI and machine learning is there to help streamline processes with the right applications. As more of your data enters the business conversation, you’ll be that much more prepared to confidently support current customers, find new ones, and offer something different from the competition. 

Start extracting your data from unstructured data today.