Decoding Intelligent Automation: 4 Key Processes

All transformative technologies come with a problem—they are really difficult to explain. Try explaining to a communications mogul from the past century that people in 2021 will not only communicate through their tiny slabs of glass they can carry in their pocket but will also capture and edit HQ photos and videos and send them to each other in a matter of nanoseconds. You’d have gotten a blank stare.

Intelligent automation, or IA, faces a similar challenge. We’re not just talking about a new technology that might help you manage inventory to stock or invoice processing or about some add-on based around artificial intelligence technology like machine learning or robotic process automation. The truth is there’s no one-line accurate definition of what intelligent automation is and how this technology is rapidly transforming the global economy, delivering significant gains to organizations that adopt it at scale.

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Nevertheless, in this article, we’ll try to provide you with an answer to what this ultra-modern technology is; we’ll discuss its key attributes and main objectives and identify its primary use cases. Once you get your head around the content you’re going to read beneath, understanding the full impact of intelligent automation will come much, much easier.

What Is Intelligent Automation? 

To explain intelligent automation, we need to begin this heading with another analogous term—digital transformation. As a process, digital transformation refers to the adoption of digital technologies to transform services or businesses through substituting non-digital and manual processes with digital ones or through replacing older digital technology with newer digital trends. Still, as a term, digital transformation is too broad and confusing, and consequently, organizations don’t understand where to begin, which often leads to frustration and failure.     

The truth is that a complete digital transformation requires more than one technology. Intelligent automation, which is essentially the automation of the company’s processes including general corporate-level and specific task-level processes, backed by decisions and analytics made by artificial intelligence, is crucial for organizations that strive to cut costs, deliver precision, speed, and enhanced customer experience at all levels.

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Intelligent automation, or intelligent process automation, is a term that outlines a holistic solution for digital transformation, primarily based on business process management to orchestrate systems, users, tasks, and robots, depending on the business’s requirements at any time. At the same time, it contemplates the use of analytics and artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning, to make automated and intelligent business decisions and case management to allow everyday processes with enough flexibility for end-to-end case management success. 

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that another essential feature of this technological trend is the integration between different systems utilized in the organization, as integration will prevent the duplication of data in the systems, and users will need to only work on one platform.

The Four Cornerstones Of Intelligent Automation 

As uncomplicated as the term intelligent process automation may sound, organizations frequently face problems when trying to apply this transformative technology. Intelligent automation proposes concrete solutions because it consists of a successful and interconnected implementation of its four key technologies. Let’s break down and explain the role of each of the four cornerstones of intelligent automation.

Business Process Management 

Business process management (BPM) is the first of the four pillars of intelligent process automation. It's a process automation technology that comprises the effective coordination of people, data, and systems.

The primary objective of BPM is to guarantee that the operational and business process infrastructure is always solid. Accordingly, it operates as a base layer in the company, automating the behavior of complicated processes that demand people to intervene in decision making and data entry, the utilization of systems at particular moments like calculations and integrations, control of actions, and storage.

Put differently, business process management performs the role of orchestra conductor in the company, allocating which worker, external user, or system should act at any moment and controlling the entire tracking and storage of information that's generated and exchanged during the process from start to end.

Robotic Process Automation

Robotic process automation, or RPA, is a technology that targets to diminish human intervention in computer systems and applications, particularly in highly repetitive tasks that differ very little in each repetition.

This technology works predominantly by engaging with high-level applications, which are the software layers at the graphic interface level instead of programming code or machine language. Put differently, RPA is a type of software that emulates the actual interaction that a human would have with standardized computer applications.

RPA is fitting to replace basic and highly repetitive manual tasks, like, for example, data entry in applications. This means that employees will have more time to concentrate on other value branches for the organization, like improving customer relations or decision-making. 

It is a relatively fast technique to implement and can bring immediate results to a company through cost and time savings, mainly if applied in the bottlenecks of individual processes. 

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Artificial Intelligence 

In brief, artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence by machines. It’s the discipline that tries to develop systems proficient in learning and reasoning like human beings and encompasses other concepts like machine learning, natural language processing, deep learning, big data, visual recognition, and more.

Even though artificial intelligence is a pervasive concept and covers many levels of intelligent automation, the essential virtues in the current business environment include:

  • Prescriptive and predictive analytics;
  • Smart decision-making;
  • Deciphering patterns from previous experience;
  • Improving the user experience.
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Since each software or system has its own set of peculiarities, the connection and integration between systems remain one of the biggest headaches for companies. Each system typically offers an application programming interface to interact with, commonly based on some standards like SOAP or REST.  

Integrations typically require code, but with specific intelligent process automation platforms, you can have native connectors and make connections based on SOAP or REST, without using code, quickly and securely. 

Primary Objectives Of Intelligent Automation 

Many organizations across different industries have lately been experimenting with intelligent process automation and with great success. According to a report by McKinsey, the automation of 50-70% of all tasks and workflows within the companies has translated into 20-35% annual run-rate cost efficiencies. This is achieved thanks to the main objectives that intelligent automation is built upon and which organizations pursue to enjoy the full value of the process.

The principal objective of intelligent process automation is to enhance the employee and customer experiences and boost the organization’s overall productivity levels. Also, this groundbreaking technology creates time and costs savings, considerably reducing human intervention in the process cycle, allowing employees to have more time and focus on developing strategies, decisions, and other improvements within their scope of work.

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Another objective worth mentioning is reducing errors in the working processes and reducing paper usage since this technology is entirely oriented towards digital management. Intelligent automation allows companies to accelerate their end-to-end processing and makes it easier for them to make agile changes to complex processes and the technologies that support them. Bottom line, intelligent process automation helps organizations of all sizes continually improve their business operations and deliver better results, which is the core objective of this technology.

Utilization Of Intelligent Process Automation

Companies have been utilizing automation for quite some time now. It all began with machines substituting human employees on assembly lines and quickly evolved into RPA, AI, and cognitive algorithms, being the centerpiece of complex environments that imitate human behavior and reasoning. Presently, automation drastically changes the way humans and machines interact with each other under the fast growth of digital transformation and the practically unlimited computing power that we live with.

And intelligent automation systems can be incorporated in nearly every industrial sector we know. Advanced technologies and great computing capacity have created a brand new generation of hardware and software that perform physical and cognitive tasks. Not only do they process vast amounts of information, but they also analyze it, check for correctness, spot inconsistencies, study the process of work, adapt to changes, and make super-smart decisions. Even though the final decision-making will still be the responsibility of a human operator, intelligent automation software can do much of the work.

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Intelligent process automation is a systematic way to boost sales, reduce costs, and enhance customer engagement and experience, which is why organizations of all industry sectors are heavily investing in it. As a matter of fact, annual expenses for intelligence automation are expected to reach $7.3 billion by 2022, according to a study by Juniper Research.

Outside of automating processes that are pretty regular for different business domains like marketing activities, HR, payroll management, and others, intelligent automation can also streamline industry-specific processes. The use cases of intelligent automation across the business sectors include manufacturing, intellectual property, commerce, healthcare, insurance, telecommunications, logistics, banking, real estate, finance, and more. 

Final Thoughts On Intelligent Automation 

Business process management, robotic process automation, and artificial intelligence create a new type of workforce, driving digital transformation and widening business opportunities. And even though intelligent process automation is still more of a newborn rather than a mature concept in the world of new technologies, it’s quickly becoming an integral ingredient of business success. As the intelligent automation trend is now in the spotlight, capturing the attention of countless CEOs, executives, developers, and analysts worldwide, we encourage you to at least consider the possibility of implementing this incredible technology within your organization and setting your enterprise for future success.

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