Why We Added Manual Data Entry to SNAP PLUS
Manual Data Entry is the Glidepath to Automation
The title of this article draws a sharp contrast: Manual Data entry and AI. SNAP PLUS is a powerful AI-based data extraction service, providing data from utility bills at high rates of accuracy (98%) after training on just a handful of sample bills. With this leading technology, and the hyper-efficiency of AI, why did we open up SNAP PLUS to manual data entry? The answer reveals much about the current state of customer acceptance of AI.
First, some stats. Surveys show that more than 80% of SMB managers and more than 70% of sales reps do some data entry work each day (1)(2). Bill.com estimates that over 80% of business payments each year involve a paper check (3). In sum, there is a lot of paper and a lot of manual data entry sprinkled around every office. Given that so many people are already doing a bit of manual data entry, adding a product feature that makes data entry easier makes sense. But we added more: Manual Data Entry is now the glidepath to automation.
Since SNAP PLUS’s launch we’ve noticed keen interest in our product…and a lack of trust. Everyone hopes SNAP PLUS will work for their needs, but have been disappointed with product promises before (or has a boss who had that experience). For SNAP PLUS it is a case of “prove it on my bills.” So we opened up Free Trials. But that was not enough.
So we added Review mode on SNAP PLUS, making it easy for the user to directly compare the data extracted by SNAP PLUS to what was printed on the bill. The visual confirmation creates a level of transparency that most AI lacks. Our users love Review mode because it gives them control over the output of SNAP PLUS in a fast and easy way, something not provided by outsourced manual data entry teams or legacy technologies. But this also was not enough.
We heard loud and clear from our users that the SNAP PLUS UI was super-easy to use. SNAP PLUS needs only 20 bills from a utility to train a model; 7 bills are used training, and 13 are the holdout set, the initial data extraction. (Yes, SNAP PLUS provides results in the first 20 utility bills.)
Our customers typically have lots of incoming utility bills to process each month, but also quite a few that dribble in, such as 3 – 4 water bills from the City of XXX. They want to use SNP PLUS to setup the field names, enter the data and download it in CSV file format. SNAP PLUS’s simple UI makes this fast and easy. Ironically, they want to use an AI-powered tool for manual data entry 🙂
So we added this feature, Manual Data Entry. But with SNAP PLUS, the days of manual data entry are numbered. Let’s go back to those 3 -4 water bills. In the first and second months, the user uses Manual Data Entry to put the bills into SNAP PLUS’s system. But by the third month the bills have accumulated and SNAP PLUS can be trained. In the fourth month data is extracted automatically.
In sum, we put a simple product feature, Manual Data Entry, in the users’ hands. Users get a first and immediate benefit, a simple way to get clean labeled data. But at the same time, Manual Data Entry is the glidepath to data automation. No change in work habits, no heavy software to install. SNAP PLUS just slips right in and delivers clean, labeled automated data after a few bills have passed through the system.
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