Intelligent document processing (IDP) is hitting the mainstream as organizations race to automate increasingly complex document-centric workflows. But with over 100 vendors offering IDP platforms, simply sorting through the options can be daunting.
The 2023 Gartner Competitive Landscape: Intelligent Document Processing Platforms report can provide invaluable guidance for technology decision makers navigating this crowded space. The report analyzes vendors, product trends, competitive dynamics, and more. From these key insights, we’ve identified best practices that CIOs and technology leaders should consider when evaluating automation solutions.
Differentiation is Key, but Elusive
With so many choices, standing out from the crowd is critical for IDP vendors. But as Gartner analyzed, “the competitive landscape can be broadly classified into two camps:
- Providers pursuing a product-differentiation-based competitive strategy (about two-thirds of providers)
- Providers pursuing a client-needs-based strategy (about one-third of providers) focused on clients’ specific needs and wants, often a use case, and addressing that need without getting too heavily into a differentiated product pitch”
Vendors in the first camp aim to position the technical capabilities and features of their IDP platform as unique. However, given the crowded marketplace, this can be difficult. Often, vendors end up touting similar strengths around accuracy, scalability, and ease of use.
The second group of vendors tries to differentiate by targeting specific client needs or use cases. But with numerous vendors taking a verticalized approach, even this strategy makes it hard to stand apart.
What does this really mean?
Don’t take vendor claims of differentiation at face value.
A vendor likely doesn’t dominate across all areas, but those excelling in dimensions that map to your specific requirements likely offer true differentiation.
The Market is Still Evolving
According to Gartner, “Many IDP platform providers have made a product pivot in the last two years, evolving from narrow/limited features to a more robust, industry-centered product, and this evolution continues.”
When evaluating IDP solutions, don’t just consider established vendors. Look for platforms demonstrating aggressive R&D roadmaps and commitment to innovation. Emerging vendors with cutting-edge capabilities can offer better long-term value.
Similarly, don’t assume legacy vendors have what it takes to handle today’s business processes. As Gartner notes, “providers established in the market as legacy OCR providers who have forayed into the IDP space are under most threat of being replaced by a new breed of AI-led providers.”
The meaning? Make sure any vendor you choose offers a modern architecture built specifically for AI-driven business processes.
Large Language Models are Making Waves
Speaking of disruptive technology, much buzz surrounds the rise of large language models like ChatGPT. These powerful AI tools are capturing attention across the IDP industry as well.
Many IDP vendors are already incorporating LLMs into their platforms or offering integration. However, the role of LLM in intelligent document processing will remain complementary, not substitutionary.
However, for technology decision makers, the emergence of LLMs warrants consideration but caution. Be wary of vendors promising that LLMs will completely revolutionize IDP overnight. However, those strategically leveraging LLMs’ strengths while navigating their limitations may gain an edge.
When evaluating platforms, look for vendors taking a measured approach, thoughtfully integrating LLMs where they excel while relying on proven ML techniques for workhorse document processing tasks. Avoid over exuberance, but remain open to next-generation capabilities.
Sizing Up the Market: Competitive Intensity Only Growing
Zooming out from specific vendors, Gartner took a broad view of competitive dynamics within the IDP marketplace. To us, their analysis underscores just how fierce competition has become.
This hyper-competitive environment shows no signs of abating. As Gartner states, “LLMs have the potential to amplify the intensity of competition in this category, reducing differentiation,or change the strategy to one of differentiation by focus through prompt engineering or model tuning.”
For enterprise technology leaders, intense competition presents both opportunities and challenges. On the plus side, you have leverage to negotiate favorable deals and protect your interests. However, as outlined earlier, the crowded field also demands sharper discernment of solution capabilities and fit.
Tapping impartial analyst perspectives helps cut through vendor hype and identify the best choice for your organization’s needs. Taking time to run proof of concepts and conduct detailed technical evaluations is also essential.
By understanding the complex competitive dynamics, you can approach negotiations from a position of strength and zero in on the right IDP partner.
Charting Your Course Forward
In rapidly maturing markets like IDP, independent insights become critical navigation tools. For technology leaders charged with identifying the right solutions, the Gartner research can help chart the optimal course in challenging waters.
Rather than getting lost in vendor noise or following the herd, use these insights to focus your selection process:
- See past glossy positioning to uncover true differentiation
- Demand commitment to continuous innovation
- Scrutinize emerging vendors alongside established players
- Adopt a pragmatic stance on bleeding-edge capabilities
- Quantify the impact of intense competition on negotiation leverage
With a clear view of the diverse IDP landscape, you can confidently evaluate options through the lens of your organization’s specific priorities and roadmap. This will enable building an automation solution poised to transform document processing while offering maximum value and future-proofing. The winds of change in this market will only accelerate, but with the right insights, your automation initiative can harness them to chart a course to success.
Gartner, Competitive Landscape: Intelligent Document Processing Platforms, Arup Roy, Stephen Emmott, 4 September 2023
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