UK Conveyancers and Lenders have computing power hundreds of times more powerful than 20 years ago, yet My Home Move still receive over 1 million hard copy conveyancing documents each year through the post from them.
The pictures painted by some visionaries and futurists of wholly electronic conveyancing transactions, using automation to speed up every stage and artificial intelligence to deliver perfect decision making and advice, are compelling and credible – apart from one crucial factor. Inertia.
The key to progress in technology for conveyancing is an acceptance that we are implementing ‘perfect’* technology in an imperfect world. It’s not enough to build the future, you need to do so in a way that embraces the past.
It’s very liberating, accepting that perfection can’t actually be achieved. Just because A.I. can’t deal with every scenario, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. The efficiency gained from automating a process for even 50% of cases can be huge and the beauty of machine learning is that the percentage will progressively increase.
This is why we are implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning in our document processing centre. We’d love everyone to integrate with our systems so that we could pipe all case data straight into our systems, but we’re realistic about the fact that many conveyancing businesses are simply not going to change. For over 15 years we’ve been scanning every item of post we receive and attaching them to an electronic case file, but as our volumes get bigger and the technology quickly becomes more capable, now is the time to automate progressively more of this process, freeing up staff for other, more value adding activities.
Once a document is scanned in, the system identifies key words and phrases to identify the case to which the document corresponds, the document type and ‘reads’ the whole document. The system then attaches it to the file in the case-management system, ready for the conveyancer. In many cases, the data within the document will also drive automated follow-on tasks, saving even more time.
We still have a team who monitor the system for errors but, as all AI should, the system is constantly learning from the errors that it makes, resulting in ever increasing automatic accuracy rates. It’s a very practical application of AI but it’s also the first step in an exciting journey, which includes a partnership with Government and Academia to develop AI much deeper into the detail of the conveyancing process.
My advice, when it comes to driving technology forward, don’t wait for a perfect opportunity and environment – make a start, and let the technology close the gap.
*Yes , I know it’s never truly perfect but, with the right programming it won’t make mistakes, have an ‘off day’ or be distracted by external factors!