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Certificate Management and Artificial Intelligence

How can Optical Character Recognition help suppliers save time in Certificate Management? Tell us, Tim!
How can Optical Character Recognition help suppliers save time in Certificate Management? Tell us, Tim!

If autonomous vehicles driving with artificial intelligence were used, would the problem with speeding cars in built-up areas be completely solved? And who is liable if such a vehicle causes an accident? Does facial recognition in public spaces serve general safety or does this result in a surveillance state? You only have to watch the news: the topic of “Artificial Intelligence (AI)” is stirring the public.

SupplyOn has now implemented an application using the future technology of Artificial Intelligence that answers the question of sense or nonsense very clearly. With SupplyOn, users are actively supported by AI, tedious routine tasks are simplified and thus unnecessary work is reduced. What does the new SupplyOn solution look like?

SupplyOn Certificate Management in brief

In the SupplyOn Business Directory, supplying companies share their corporate certificates, e.g. environmental standards such as ISO 14001 or the world’s leading quality standard ISO 9001, with their customers. These certificates help customers make qualified decisions about suitable business partners and meet all compliance requirements.

Until now, managing certificates involved tedious extra work. After uploading the certificate files, the supplier had to manually enter metadata such as the certificate type and validity dates of the certificate. SupplyOn now supports this process with Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence in action

As uploaded certificate files can differ significantly, in terms of both their visual appearance and their content, SupplyOn uses an AI that has been trained specifically for this purpose. It determines the certificate type (e.g. ISO 9001) and independently extracts the relevant metadata for the respective type – in several languages.

Using Artificial Intelligence in the SupplyOn Business Directory
Using Artificial Intelligence in the SupplyOn Business Directory

Tim Cremer, a working student at SupplyOn, is responsible for the training of the AI. Here is a short interview with him.

Tim Cremer

Training of Artificial Intelligence – an interview

Wolfgang: Hi Tim, how did you find your way to SupplyOn?

Tim: Hi Wolfgang, I’m studying business informatics at the Technical University in Munich. I already knew SupplyOn from a lecture at the university. I have been a working student at SupplyOn since May 2021.

Wolfgang: What are your responsibilities at SupplyOn?

Tim: I initially supported various projects in the product area and wrote documentations. The involvement in SupplyOn’s internal AI initiative, the training of Artificial Intelligence in the Certificate Management and the necessary research are highlights in which I was able to directly apply the know-how from my studies.

Wolfgang: What can the SupplyOn AI do?

Tim: If a supplier uploads a certificate document, it is first split into individual text fields using “Optical Character Recognition” (OCR). You can think of this as a scanner. The AI looks at the document as an image and tries to recognize individual sections of text. In each recognized text section, the computer then extracts the included words as text.

Then I looked at each of these text segments and mapped the texts to the document’s metadata (e.g. certificate validity dates). Afterwards, I used this information to train the AI.

What AI delivers: different certificates of the "ISO 9001" type, equal content
What AI delivers: different certificates of the “ISO 9001” type, equal content

Wolfgang: What did you need to train the Artificial Intelligence? How does the training work? And how long does it take?

Tim: I manually uploaded documents in the supported languages for each certificate and mapped the texts to the metadata. In total there were about 1,500 documents. This was a very extensive task. It also took quite a bit of time and concentration. Based on this training data, the Artificial Intelligence can interpret the structures in the uploaded certificate data. It takes into account the position of a text block and also other aspects such as the content.

If you do this with enough documents, the AI is able to make predictions afterwards. For example, what the content will be and what it means in context, such as whether a sequence of numbers is the end date of the certificate document’s validity. For each prediction, the AI calculates a probability. Above a certain probability, we can assume that the prediction is correct. Then the AI suggests these dates to the supplier as a pre-populated metadata entry in their certificate data. If the probability determined by the AI is too low, the missing data must be entered manually. This is how we avoid incorrect entries.

Wolfgang Schmetterer

Wolfgang: Would you agree: Artificial Intelligence in B2B is effective?

Tim: Yes, because by using SupplyOn AI, the supplying company saves an estimated 80% of the time when uploading its current certificates compared to the conventional process, where all metadata has to be entered by itself and without the support of Artificial Intelligence. In addition, all purchasing companies also benefit from the higher quality of certificate data at SupplyOn. Previously, customers had to manually check the validity of certificates, for example — this cumbersome task is eliminated with the new certificate management system. I think the usage of AI at SupplyOn can make things even easier and simpler in the future and support users in their daily work.

Wolfgang: Thanks for the interview and for the insights from your AI factory, Tim.


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