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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Darkness Descends: AI Doom for Document Management SMEs

If "Where there is Mystery there is Margin" is your catchphrase, you deserve what's coming.

I just read a blood-curdling article that was not intended for our industry.  The story was not penned by one of our beloved industry writers or curators.  It wasn't birthed by any resident bloviator or hired shrill.

By all accounts, the tome is innocuous, if not boring.  There exists between the ink or pixels, an ominous report for those of us residing in the realm of fire and static, of paper and notions; "The End is Near."

Through the haze that is the fear of Covid, the desperation of supply chains, and the illumination of a purpose beyond the cubicle, copiers prevailed. Even with the fall of private equity, commercial real estate, and an unhealthy dose of self-loathing, dealers remained.  They stood.

That was then, this is now.

No degree of strategy, tactics, or blind luck will save us now.  Artificial intelligence will render the document's annihilation - and with it, an industry.  

The title of a recent article,

"Microsoft’s new Copilot will change Office documents forever"

should scare the shit out of every single person in the Office Technology Realm. OEMs from NJ to Japan are quaking or swimming the sweet River of Bliss.

The Event Horizon is passed, Gravity has us all now.  It's a matter of hours.

Office products solutions and revenue revolve around and are driven by the 'document'.

The Document. Not speeds, firewalls, A3vA4, the latest dealer acquisition, P/E investment, or toner cartridge chips.  Contracts, invoices, financial statements, recipes,  word processing, spreadsheet, slide deck, & email integration.
  • AI writes marketing emails - I've done it.
  • AI can generate copier proposals - I've done it.
  • AI eliminates the need for spreadsheets. I've seen it.
  • AI can write relevant content about Office Technology, that your prospects read - I've done it.
And now, the document management subject matter experts and designers of digital workflows are out of business. 

It's big.  You're hearing about how AI can write spreadsheet macros and code.  Fine - imagine instead of asking for a macro, then cutting and pasting into your spreadsheet and calculating, you simply tell the AI what you want and it generates the code directly to your data and gives you the response.


Instead of asking for code, you tell the AI to sort, find the regression, variance, and whatever other response you're looking for and the AI presents.  No more coding, cutting, or pasting into the word processor, spreadsheet, CNC machine, or rocket ship.  AI doesn't provide shortcuts inside and application, it REPLACES THE ENTIER application.

Instead of designing and inputting a converted analog workflow into the digital, just tell the system that "the data set you are looking at includes accounts payable data.  Process for approval."  without the weeks of assessment, design, testing, training, and implementation.

This is the power of AI.

Document Management, RPA - hardcopy to digital conversion, and digital workflow experts - your days are numbers and not in years, months, or even weeks.  You have hours. Nobody is coming to rescue you. You're on your own. The good news is...although we're not in the same boat, we're all on the same Ocean.

It's big.  For example, you're hearing about how AI can write spreadsheet macros and code.  Fine - imagine instead of asking for a macro, then cutting and pasting into your spreadsheet and calculating, you simply tell the AI what you want and it generates the code directly to your data and gives you the response.

Microsoft's new Copilot is poised to revolutionize Office documents, causing alarm among professionals in the Office Technology Realm. As the Event Horizon has been crossed, experts in document management, RPA, and digital workflows face an uncertain future with their roles potentially becoming obsolete in a matter of hours.

The core of office product solutions and revenue revolves around documents, such as contracts, invoices, and financial statements. With AI advancements, tasks like coding, cutting, and pasting will no longer be required. Users can simply instruct AI to perform complex functions, such as sorting and analyzing data, without the need for traditional document management processes.

This transformative AI technology will eliminate the need for lengthy assessments, design, testing, training, and implementation, leaving the fate of the document management industry hanging in the balance.

The MS article:

Microsoft has unveiled its new AI-powered Copilot, a virtual assistant that can generate text, alter paragraphs, teach Office features, and commands Excel and PowerPoint. The system, which can be customized for each Office app, will initially be available to 20 businesses. Microsoft said that while Copilot is capable of getting things wrong, it has put warnings in place to remind users of its limitations. The company said it plans to scale the system in a "thoughtful and responsible way".

Copilot can generate images, videos and more once large language models can handle these features well, according to Jon Friedman, corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft.

Copilot in Action

Copilot can help users with a wide range of tasks in Office apps, from generating text to creating slide decks. Here are a few examples of how Copilot can be used:

Generating Text: Copilot can help users generate text for a variety of purposes, from writing business reports to composing emails. For example, a user could ask Copilot to "write a summary of our Q1 financial results," and the system would generate a summary based on the available data.

Executing Commands: Copilot can execute commands in Office apps based on user input. For example, a user could ask Copilot to "insert a pivot table into this Excel sheet," and the system would execute the command automatically.

The virtual assistant is the next major wave of computing and it will change the way we work with all devices in the coming years, Friedman said. Microsoft is hoping to empower people and build a common design system to create new job opportunities and change the nature of a lot of jobs.

AI eats your processes, compares them with every other similar process ever used in the history of business, optimizes yours, and keeps optimizing iteration after iteration after iteration.

Some folks are running around bragging about how their 20th-century software now "incorporates AI" and how that is a good thing.

No no no. Your 20th-century program is an abacus. We didn't enhance abacus usage with slide rules, we replaced the abacus. So it is with manual processes - more importantly, AI eliminates the need to have humans convert manual processes into digital processes - the AI has already done it, a million times before you.

Think I'm wrong? Let's ask the AI in the Sky.

This is how it ends. This is what I asked:

You are a document Management and digitization expert. I am a small manufacturer of widgets. Can you outline for me the process I use to manage my bill of materials my inventory control invoicing and accounts payable and how I might be able to digitize that with artificial intelligence

This is what it said back to me:

Sure, I can provide an overview of the process you can use to manage your bill of materials, inventory control, invoicing, and accounts payable as well as how you can digitize it with artificial intelligence.

The AI went on to describe(see below*) the process and definition of items and functions most small manufacturers experience.  

All by itself, with little instruction from me, returning content that most salespeople do not possess the knowledge or skill to generate.

In 1.5 minutes.

Once the API is developed for your EDM software, all that up-front, expensive, project management work and billable consultation goes out the window, with those typewriters, abacuses, and slide rules.

Good news, in the last 2 weeks over 300 new ChatGPT APIs have come to market.  Is your OEM on it?  Is DocuWare?  How about ECI?

I know you've heard the Chicken Little story time and time again and it took 10 years for the warnings to turn true.

This is different; compressed time, on the Edge...
  1. Bill of Materials Management:

    The bill of materials (BOM) is a critical document that lists all the components and raw materials required to manufacture your widgets. To manage your BOM effectively, you should:
  • Create a digital BOM that includes all the necessary information about each component, including part numbers, descriptions, and quantities needed for each widget.
  • Regularly update the BOM to reflect any changes in component availability, pricing, or specification.
  • Use a cloud-based collaboration tool to allow your team to access the BOM from anywhere and update it as needed.
  • Integrate your BOM with your inventory control system to ensure accurate tracking of inventory levels.
  1. Inventory Control:

    Effective inventory control is essential for managing your widget manufacturing process. To manage your inventory effectively, you should:
  • Implement an inventory management system that tracks inventory levels in real-time.
  • Use barcodes or RFID tags to automate data collection and ensure accurate inventory tracking.
  • Set up automated alerts to notify you when inventory levels fall below a certain threshold.
  • Use demand forecasting and predictive analytics to optimize your inventory levels and reduce waste.
  • Integrate your inventory control system with your BOM to ensure accurate tracking of component usage.
  1. Invoicing:

    Invoicing is a critical process that ensures you get paid for your widget manufacturing services. To manage your invoicing effectively, you should:
  • Implement a digital invoicing system that allows you to generate invoices quickly and accurately.
  • Use automated reminders to ensure timely payments from customers.
  • Use a cloud-based invoicing system that allows you to access invoices from anywhere.
  • Use predictive analytics to forecast revenue and cash flow.
  1. Accounts Payable:

    Managing accounts payable is essential to ensure timely payments to your suppliers. To manage your accounts payable effectively, you should:
  • Implement a digital accounts payable system that allows you to track and manage invoices and payments.
  • Use automated reminders to ensure timely payments to suppliers.
  • Use predictive analytics to forecast expenses and cash flow.
  • Integrate your accounts payable system with your inventory control system to ensure accurate tracking of supplier payments.
Now, to digitize these processes with artificial intelligence, you can:
  • Use machine learning algorithms to optimize your inventory levels and reduce waste.
  • Implement chatbots to automate invoicing and accounts payable processes.
  • Use natural language processing (NLP) to analyze invoices and identify errors or discrepancies.
  • Use predictive analytics to forecast revenue and expenses more accurately.
This was the first pass and took about 1.5 minutes.


Title: Microsoft Copilot: How AI is Revolutionizing the Way We Work in Office Apps

Tagline: Say goodbye to tedious tasks and hello to efficiency with the Microsoft Copilot.

Tweet: "Discover how AI is transforming the document imaging industry and what it means for those who work in the field. Read more on 'Darkness Descends: AI Doom for Document Imaging' by @greg_walters on @DeathoftheCopier #AI #documentimaging"

Intro paragraph:  In his article "Darkness Descends: AI Doom for Document Imaging" on The Death of the Copier, Greg Walters explores the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the document imaging industry. Walters notes that while AI has brought many benefits in terms of accuracy and efficiency, it has also raised concerns among those who work in the industry, as it could potentially lead to significant job losses. Walters argues that while it's true that AI may eliminate certain roles, it will also create new opportunities and those who are willing to adapt and innovate will be the ones who thrive in this new era. Overall, Walters provides valuable insights into how AI is transforming the document imaging industry and what it means for those who work in the field.

Keywords: Microsoft Copilot, AI, virtual assistant, productivity, Office apps, natural language processing, machine learning

Search Question: How is AI revolutionizing the way we work in Microsoft Office apps?

Image Prompt: A person sitting at their desk, typing on a computer with the Microsoft Office apps open on the screen. In the background, a virtual assistant (represented by an avatar or chatbot) is hovering over the user's shoulder, ready to assist.

Recommended Song: "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse: This song talks about the power of technology and its ability to change our lives in unexpected ways.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated