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Meet IVA, your Intelligent Virtual Assistant

Meet IVA, your Intelligent Virtual Assistant

One of many exciting new additions to Bill.com is IVA, your Intelligent Virtual Assistant. IVA helps you save time and reduce data entry. How? By automatically capturing and entering all the required data from any type of invoice (vendor name, invoice number, invoice date, due date, and amount due) and starting the bill creation process as soon as the invoice enters your Bill.com inbox.

That’s right, IVA gets started without you. When you log in to your Bill.com Inbox, IVA has already scanned incoming invoices and lets you know that it has captured data for you. You see a side-by-side comparison of the original invoice and the extracted data, so you know in a glance if the bill information is complete and accurate. Next, take a look at the accounting treatment for the expense and the list of approvers (Bill.com remembers that information for you as well), and you’re on to review the next invoice. It’s that simple - no more data entry!

IVA starts scanning invoices from the Bill.com inbox.

Meet IVA, your Intelligent Virtual Assistant

Side-by-side comparison of invoice and extracted data. IVA illustrates where the data was extracted from the invoice.

Meet IVA, your Intelligent Virtual Assistant

IVA is also fast. When you drag and drop an invoice into Bill.com, you can see within seconds how quickly IVA works to capture the relevant invoice data and start the bill creation process. Unlike many applications that leave you waiting minutes or even overnight to have a document’s data scanned and captured, you can see IVA’s results almost immediately. That speed keeps your bill management process moving forward.

However, IVA is much more than data extraction. IVA is intelligent enough to understand the data it captures from invoices. If IVA sees a duplicate invoice in the Bill.com inbox, it gives you a warning to stop you from creating a duplicate bill. Proactive intelligence keeps you from making costly mistakes like draining your cash on double payments.

IVA provides a duplicate invoice warning.

Meet IVA, your Intelligent Virtual Assistant

Another sign of IVA’s intelligence is that it realizes its limitations. In other words, IVA doesn’t guess and enter incorrect data when it is uncertain in reading an invoice. For example, if at first IVA doesn’t recognize a vendor’s highly stylized logo and can’t accurately capture the vendor name, IVA leaves the vendor field in Bill.com blank. We know that our customers would rather be directed to enter data in a blank field than see an incorrectly populated field and go back to make corrections, or even worse, risk making a mistake and accidentally leaving the incorrect data as-is.

Even when uncertain, IVA offers a simple, yet effective click-to-capture process. If for some reason IVA misses capturing data like the invoice due date, simply click the due date in the invoice then click the Bill.com field for the due date and IVA will paste the information for you. Review, click, click, done. Even with complicated or confusing invoices, you still haven’t typed in any data!

So what makes IVA so intelligent? IVA is artificial intelligence (AI) built into the Bill.com platform. Simply put, AI is powerful computing that “learns” to perform tasks without being explicitly programmed to do so. AI uses statistical algorithms to improve over time based on past and present input and outputs, without reprogramming. This AI is how IVA learns over time, getting faster and better at recognizing invoice formats and extracting data more accurately.

But to become intelligent, IVA had to first be trained - trained how to recognize invoice data and trained how to improve over time. With any AI, the larger the training dataset, the smarter the machine will be on day one and the faster it will learn. Fortunately, Bill.com has one of the largest training datasets around. IVA was trained with over 10 years worth of invoices that have been processed through Bill.com.  That equals hundreds of millions of invoices, so IVA usually knows what to do with the next invoice it sees.

IVA may sound like a feature you already know - optical character recognition, or OCR. OCR software processes a digital image, like a scanned invoice, by locating and recognizing letters, numbers, and symbols so that a computer can manipulate that information. In fintech we see OCR regularly applied to receipt, invoice, and document data capture. However, OCR doesn’t get better over time without implementing a new version of the software. There’s no intelligence with OCR, the software simply does what it was programmed to do. OCR won’t identify duplicate invoices without being programmed to do so. It usually works best with predictable formats like checks. It is less successful with highly variable layouts like you see with invoices. With artificial intelligence like IVA, the system is not only designed to intelligently improve over time, IVA will also do more in the future with Bill.com computing power, capabilities, and data. You’ll see things such as automated analysis and reporting, and IVA become more responsive based on your input and feedback.

You may be skeptical of giving up control of a financial process to a “machine.” You want to know how IVA, or any AI for that matter, analyzes data and reaches conclusions. Fortunately, IVA is transparent and leaves you in control. IVA won’t reject duplicate invoices, rather it identifies them for you so you can decide if the invoice is truly a duplicate and what to do next. IVA automatically captures invoice data but it doesn’t approve or pay bills; you remain in control of that process. IVA circles the data from the invoice it has captured and draws lines to show where that data was entered into Bill.com, so you can see what it’s done before you choose to move on to the next invoice. Just like the entire Bill.com platform, IVA was designed with transparency and control in mind.

What will you do with the time saved by not having to perform data entry and working with a responsive system that gets more intelligent over time? Saving time on data entry every week leaves you more time to focus on the big picture financial issues like cash flow analysis and stakeholder reporting that improve your organization’s performance. Now THAT’S intelligent!

Finally, one of the things that makes IVA so unique is how it complements the Bill.com end-to-end process. It’s not enough to capture invoice data - OCR does a fair job at that already. Bill.com with IVA delivers financial process efficiency to businesses through streamlined accounts payable management. IVA kicks off the process by reducing data entry and human error by leveraging artificial intelligence to automatically extract data from invoices to create bills in real-time, notifying you when action is needed. Furthermore, with Bill.com’s flexible payment options like domestic ACH, international wires, and virtual card, it’s easier than ever to pay vendors how they want to be paid. The new Bill.com gets more intelligent as you use it, learning your processes and preferences to give you greater control over every aspect of bill management.

We can’t wait for you to meet IVA and give it a try. IVA is included with the new Bill.com experience so if you are a new Bill.com customer, the good news is that you already have it! If you are one of the many Bill.com customers in the process of moving to the new experience, IVA is just one of many reasons to make the move today. And, if you’re looking around for a bill management solution and evaluating different options, sign up for our risk-free trial and give Bill.com and IVA a try. Register for our June 11 webinar to learn more.

May 22, 2019
Mark Gervase
Director, Product Marketing, Bill.com
Mark works with accounting firms and bookkeepers to grow their businesses and achieve efficiencies through automation and cloud technologies. He is a former CPA, has a background in financial technology, and holds an MBA and BA in Economics from the University of California Berkeley.