What is Intelligent Automation?
Intelligent Automation combines Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and other advanced technologies to automate business processes. By implementing Intelligent Automation, you can automate more complex tasks and processes. Those automations can learn and adapt independently, driving better business outcomes.
Key Components of Intelligent Automation
Intelligent Automation solutions enable better business processes. They streamline workflows and allow your staff to work more creatively on new products and services. Intelligent Automation platforms integrate three essential technological components:
Under the AI umbrella, cognitive technologies such as ML and Natural Language Processing (NLP) form the “decision engine” of Intelligent Automation. These technologies work alongside complex algorithms to rapidly analyze data, identify patterns and create predictions about customer behavior and internal business processes.
Robotic Process Automation
While AI provides the analytical and predictive elements of Intelligent Automation, RPA uses bots to carry out the automation element. RPA automates tasks such as scheduling and order processing that otherwise take up a lot of non-revenue-generating employee time. This frees employees to work on more creative and strategic tasks.
Business Process Management (BPM)
Just as RPA automates back-office tasks, BPM analyzes and streamlines workflows. This further enhances efficiency, improving internal and customer-facing interactions.
How Does Intelligent Automation Work?
Intelligent Automation combines the strengths of AI, RPA and BPM to eliminate inefficiencies in business processes and workflows. This holistic approach involves a mix of rule-based automation and AI's analytical and predictive capabilities, which manage more complex processes.
In simpler terms, AI handles the tasks that require interaction or insight, such as chatbots or customer behavior analysis. RPA and BPM tackle more clerical functions such as data scraping or invoice processing.
The Importance of Intelligent Automation
Intelligent Automation functions as a digital transformation tool across your entire organization, rather than serving as a siloed tool to improve a specific process or data-gathering task in particular departments.
On a strategic level, it helps improve the customer experience, reduce operational costs, simplify governance and increase staff productivity. On a practical level, Intelligent Automation maximizes the operational benefits of technology to:
- Enhance and improve operational compliance.
- Optimize workflows with greater speed, transparency, consistency and efficiency.
- Save time, reduce costs, mitigate risk and eliminate errors.
- Improve customer and employee experiences on an ongoing basis.
- Elevate business value, operations and ROI.
- Provide design thinking, helping boost business initiatives.
Which Industries Most Benefit from Intelligent Automation?
Any industry can benefit from Intelligent Automation. However, some verticals are especially well positioned to take advantage of this technology:
- Customer experience.
- Transactions, security and compliance.
- Back-office tasks.
Healthcare and Insurance
- Patient care.
- Medical interventions.
- Fast, cost-effective drug and disease research and development.
- Insurance processing and decision-making.
- Route and supply planning.
- Driving and delivery.
- Aviation, railway transport and shipping and ports.
- Customer experience.
- Records, documents and compliance.
- Information management.
- Research and Development.
- Records, reports and compliance.
Use Cases for Intelligent Automation
Cross-industry applications for Intelligent Automation can enhance operations and interactions between businesses in overlapping sectors. Use cases for Intelligent Automation include:
- Data management: This includes processing forms, invoices, documents and applications, as well as data entry, extraction, consolidation, retention and scrubbing.
- Personnel and staffing: Intelligent Automation can facilitate recruitment, applicant screening, onboarding and offboarding, employee training, payroll processing, expense management and scheduling.
- Sales and marketing: Market, price and trend analysis; lead generation and nurturing; order management and multimedia marketing campaign scheduling can all be handled efficiently through new digital processes enabled by Intelligent Automation.
- Financial reporting and services: Intelligent Automation financial systems can automate processes such as accounts payable and receivable, stakeholder reporting, Know Your Customer (KYC) checks and loan and mortgage application processing.
- Fraud detection and prevention: For fields such as banking and insurance, Intelligent Automation can put checks in place to screen for red flags and halt suspicious or fraudulent activity.
- Manufacturing and goods: Intelligent Automation will keep track of materials, inventory, equipment, transport, returns and billing issues to prevent bottlenecks in the system or unexpected shortages of products or supplies.
Pros of Intelligent Automation
Given the applications of Intelligent Automation across all different industries and for a variety of functions, the benefits are wide ranging. Some of these include:
- High ROI: Intelligent Automation has lower operating costs than manual systems and a higher ROI.
- More efficient use of staff time and skills: Automation enables your workforce to focus their attention on less repetitive tasks, and instead focus on more high-level work.
- Increased efficiency and accuracy: Intelligent Automation removes the ever-present risk of human error, speeding up processes and producing more accurate results.
- Improved regulatory compliance: Intelligent Automation technologies can provide you with greater and cleaner data, and can signify when compliance is not met.
- Improved consumer experience and customer loyalty: Reduced errors and greater efficiency means that customers are able to have a better experience, increasing the chance that they will return.
- Data-driven decision-making: Better data, along with insights and predictions, means that your business can utilize intelligent automation to make informed and supported decisions.
Cons of Intelligent Automation
Although there are many potential benefits of an Intelligent Automation implementation, decision-makers must carefully weigh these against the possible drawbacks of such a wide-ranging change to the way their organizations operate:
- Lack of skilled personnel: Intelligent technologies need skilled personnel to put them into place, of which there aren’t as many as needed. Time is also needed to train staff on how to properly use and utilize these technologies.
- Resistance from employees: Workers are aware of the potential employment impact, which can result in fear, a lack of understanding and a resistance towards the technologies.
- Security concerns: There are cybersecurity threats stemming from data handling, storage and transport. This means you need to take the right steps beforehand to protect any sensitive or confidential data.
- IT and technological ecosystems need to be prepared: Complex automation systems can’t just come into place. Your existing systems and IT need to be readied for this, which can include restructuring the existing system. When using legacy software, this can take further preparation and integration.
- Appropriate tool development and implementation: The correct solutions and tools differ from organization to organization. You need to understand your existing business systems and ROI goals, and how Intelligent Automation can enhance them.
Intelligent Automation Looking Forward
Intelligent Automation is poised to transform daily business operations in ways no one can yet entirely foresee. In the short-term, this change amounts to companies simplifying and enhancing their back-office business processes to increase turnaround speed and accuracy, as well as improving workflows to shed inefficiencies and redundancies.
Through Intelligent Automation, digital transformation efforts can be amplified. By automating highly complex business processes, companies stand to quickly surpass their goals of augmenting their reliability, predictability, speed and accuracy, and begin to bolster sales and customer loyalty.
To prepare for these changes, you must carefully plot your course based on the following considerations:
- Create a solid plan. Identify where Intelligent Automation can add the most value, integrate new technologies into legacy processes and systems and stabilize any new or disorganized processes prior to implementation.
- Manage change carefully. Change management strategies such as effective, timely communication with staff, thorough and useful training, an implementation roadmap and a variety of methods for measuring ROI are essential to ensuring a smooth transition.
- Establish a system of governance. A practical governance framework will determine how and by whom an Intelligent Automation system is implemented, overseen, assessed and altered. Performance monitoring and an ultimate command and control authority should be established.
- Continually reassess progress. As an addendum to the system of governance, you should regularly assess the effectiveness of your Intelligent Automation implementations, including ROI, how well the system is meeting expectations and where gaps exist that can be easily filled by expanding the implementation.