Intelligent Process Automation: Ushering Digital Transformation

intelligent process automation

As per the HFS research, “72% of the organizations prioritize intelligent process automation in their efforts for digital transformation.”

Business organizations consider automation for many reasons: some automate to cut out costs; some automate to ease out their complex or repetitive business activities and some automate to generate revenue opportunities or improve their business productivity and efficiency. But it’s time for more- imagine achieving all these benefits of automation given that your system is cognitively capable of making business decisions. Yes, Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) makes this a reality!

The pandemic has imparted a change in almost all business landscapes that every organization sees and values automation as a necessity to thrive in this digital era. Businesses are under pressure to digitally transform their strategies and business processes to sustain the market with more than conventional automation. As digital transformation is being prioritized by organizations, it is time to think beyond the tactical use of automation, which is intelligent Process Automation. Let us read more about Intelligent Process Automation and why it is necessary to empower your business with the trend in this space.

What is Intelligent Process Automation?

Intelligent Process Automation is the combined usage of advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Language (ML), and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with automation tools to streamline and improve the efficiency of business processes.  Conventional automation systems leverage technologies like RPA to simplify complex tasks or automate repetitive mundane business processes and streamline them. Intelligent Process Automation brings out the advanced automation strategy with cognitive technologies to automate complex business processes and make data-driven decisions.

Traditional automation procedures are mostly rule-based where complex tasks are simplified or recurring tasks are done repeatedly (mindless repetition) and require human intervention at different phases to accomplish the goal.

With the power of cognitive technologies (AI, ML, RPA & many more) and automation tools, Intelligent Process Automation is able to handle unstructured data, process them, understand the pattern using technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP), learn and adapt them to make data-driven decisions. This eliminates the need for humans at different phases in the business process. IPA leverages various technologies to streamline tedious business processes and help the workforce focus on more added tasks.

For instance, in a banking website, traditional automation tools can fill out a field in Excel or populate a data/particular value from structured content like an invoice and use them for further processing based on user-defined rules. Intelligent Process Automation can process unstructured content by interpreting their correlation using technologies like OCR image analysis and human-like conversational bots using NLP.

Components of Intelligent Process Automation

Intelligent Process Automation is basically employed to amplify the capabilities of conventional automation by leveraging technologies like AI, ML, RPA, NLP, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), computer vision, etc, this section briefs the main components of Intelligent Process Automation that improve your business value and enhance your business’s competitive advantage.

Robotic Process Automation:

RPA is employed to automate the labor-intensive and recurrent business process. When these recurring tasks are removed from the employee’s daily task equation, organizations can utilize their workforce potential in more beneficial and productive ways. RPA makes use of robots/bots or intelligence automation algorithms to automate complex redundant tasks aiding business growth. These RPA bots are generally used on the user interfaces and they interact with the application/system to perform tasks that mimic human abilities.

Artificial Intelligence:

Technologies that can revamp human-machine collaboration are the most needed thing nowadays. Artificial intelligence is a technology that has been bridging the gap between humans and machines in the automation aspect. AI process automation technologies improve every other day and progressively enhance their capability by combining past and present predictions so that they can transform the data generated by RPA and other automation techniques. AI technology learns from processed patterns, exhibits advanced analytics, and can generate intuitive insights. AI uses NLP, OCR, ML, computer vision, and speech recognition and mimics the cognitive ability of humans.

Machine Learning:

Machine learning is a technological advancement(subset of AI) that aids earlier predictions making things proactive at times of risk. ML technology involves a specified algorithm to identify and learn patterns in the data set without any explicit programming. This data set can be either structured or unstructured and ML incorporates either supervised or unsupervised learning to make predictions/decisions. Supervised algorithms recognize the patterns of the structured dataset and imply the predictions in future structured data sets. Unsupervised algorithms observe such patterns predicted by supervised algorithms and make decisions.

Workflows:

Workflows make your business management simple. Whatever the strategy used, technology implemented, or the tasks performed in your business organizations, workflows are true. Workflows help you map the processes and identify loopholes and the required implementations. In an environment where Intelligent Process Automation is active, workflows are smart tools employed to manage handoffs between different phases in a business process or handoff between a human and a robot. Workflows also track the status of the end-to-end process and provide statistical data.

Cognitive Technologies:

Technologies like NLP, and OCR help organizations build a virtual workforce that can work or do predictive analytics for your organization. For example, a bot on a bank’s website can answer customers’ queries and support them 24*7 without any human aid. This, on the other hand, helps the support executives focus on other activities enhancing both the efficiency of the employee and the organization. The bots make use of these cognitive technologies to respond to customer queries by understanding their intention and making decisions to assist them according to their inquiries.

These cognitive technologies use both past and real-time data to forecast future outcomes. Such intelligent behavior aids businesses to make informed decisions and anticipate human demand to optimize the process.

Intelligent Process Automation is the game changer in the realm of automation to improve the accuracy and efficiency of business processes which also enforces a surprise surge in productivity, agility, and creative innovations.

Main Purpose of Intelligent Process Automation

It is predicted by Gartner that 70% of organizations will implement structured automation to deliver flexibility and efficiency by 2025, an increase from 20% of organizations in 2021.

Every technological advancement has its benefits over cumbersome business processes and their management.  Disruptive technologies route the business processes towards digital transformation. This digital era has imposed an urge on digital process automation to harness the benefits beyond maximizing organizational efficiency in business process management. 

The main purpose of Intelligent Process is to automate business processes in a way to minimizes human intervention. Adopting Intelligence automation can bring more benefits to your organization setup like improved data management, simplified data flow through your network, its accessibility, and their processing with intelligence to make strategic decisions. Since all these automation and cognitive technologies work in tandem in an Intelligent Process Automation setup, businesses thrive with agility.

IPA is a convergence of cognitive technologies as it processes raw data (both structured and unstructured), understands patterns using NLP, and makes pin-point decisions that are as accurate as humans: as Intelligent Process Automation learns patterns and analyzes for the contextual connection between them (using NLP and OCR) to make tactical decisions.

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) vs. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is the technology that is used by organizations to automate their complex tasks, replicating and recurring processes, or mindless time consumers. RPA is a rule-based technology where everything is predefined. In that case, RPA is rigid even if it is capable of breaking complex business processes into simple tasks and streamlining them. This automation technique has limited benefits as it lacks flexibility which is a prime thing to achieve agility in business. 

RPA aids in automating structured data inputs while unstructured data sets are unmanageable or require human intervention to structure them or streamline them. Intelligent Process Automation can handle unstructured data using cognitive technologies like ML, NLP, and AI with Intelligent Process Automation businesses can come up with strategically valuable data-driven decisions by simplifying tedious business operations. The Intelligent Process Automation implemented landscape uses intelligent algorithms to extract insights even from unstructured data and use them for future predictions. Technologies like NLP help interpret the image and contextual information and make data-driven recommendations.

Intelligent Process Automation leverages new and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and automation tools to automate complex processes. As cognitive technologies happen to work in tandem with Intelligent Process Automation setup provides organizations flexibility in managing business processes. This boosts agility in the business process which in turn enhances customer satisfaction. 

Technologies in Intelligent Process Automation aid organizations in making strategic decisions by interpreting the context of both structured and unstructured data. This elevates the business value as organizations are effectively capable of predicting the outcomes. Intelligent Process Automation provides easy hand-offs with smart workflow solutions like Cflow, which further reduces the need for human intervention in a fully automated environment.

RPA fits the predefined or determined environment whereas Intelligent Process Automation makes predictions based on data analysis and pattern recognition, learns from past decisions, and makes intelligent decisions fitting the new situations improving their efficiency. RPA lacks adaptability and makes decisions in dynamic scenarios or new circumstances.

Intelligent Process Automation has more ability to deal with and handle complex processes with more reasoning and logical decisions. Intelligent systems involve an analytical approach and computer vision to diagnose business processes analyze the data and improve them. Computer vision involves technologies like OCR that can scan documents and transform them into the required format.

Intelligent Process Automation Examples

We come across numerous real-time examples that have incorporated intelligent process automation in their landscapes. With Intelligent Process Automation businesses can create more resilient models that can anticipate the future and lead the future. Various businesses and industries like finance, marketing, and manufacturing use Intelligent Process Automation to automate almost 50%-70% of their tasks. Automated cars, drones, and chatbots are a few examples of Intelligent Process Automation that we come across in our daily lives.

Intelligent Process Automation can be employed in almost all industries to automate processes like exchange-derivative clearance in commodity trades, healthcare claims processing/invoice processing in healthcare firms, or revenue cycle management in accounting firms. Here is a glimpse of the many possibilities offered by Intelligent Process Automation.

Telecom service provider is loaded with calls and will be spending a huge amount on executives to handle these call volumes. The spending will include the amount used by the organization to hire professionals, train them, answer calls with business etiquette and knowledge, and pay for them. Intelligent Process Automation has been the life savior for such industries as many reported an increase in their profits and a decrease in their call volume. As the Intelligent Process Automation setup uses NLP they mimic human behavior with reduced cost and elevated accuracy.

Banks or other financial service providers can adopt Intelligent Process Automation as it can ease out processes like customer support, customer handling, and credit card management with the highest degree of accuracy. ML algorithms provide accurate outcomes by classifying and categorizing data in crucial activities like finance management. This reduces human error and improves overall efficiency.

Intelligent Process Automation drones have spiced up the automation landscape by expanding their usage across various industries ranging from agriculture to defense. Intelligent Process Automation drones are now being employed in activities in the farm fields like sowing seeds, pouring fertilizers or even predicting climatic changes. This serves to be one of the innovative and smart applications of Intelligent Process Automation. Many countries are trying hard to apply such Intelligent Process Automation technologies in activities like manual scavenging which would be a godsend for the people involved in such tasks.

Healthcare/insurance claims are accurate and faster with Intelligent Process Automation as data collection is error-free, accurate, and on-time, and many support executives are now involved in more productive and value-added tasks as Intelligent Process Automation and bots mimic humans to assist the customer 24*7 with their inquiries. Data entry is frictionless as data extraction is smooth with ML and Al algorithms. OCR can extract data from documents, images, or any other unstructured format.

eCommerce websites now enriched with Intelligent Process Automation use virtual assistants in their user interfaces. This has helped them handle numerous customer inquiries regarding the product launch, live sales offers and recommendations, product reviews, and post-sale customer support. The Intelligent Process Automation technologies offer competitive advantages for the company in terms of fastest delivery and easy returns. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) has even changed the online shopping experience where there is no difference between retail shopping from a direct outlet, as a user can see how a particular clothing or makeup accessory will appear on them. The bots have survey data and stats about user interest and experience and even Apple cognitive intelligence to notify them about new products or the one they have carted or notify about the arrival of their wishlist item with a personalized notification.

Pharmacies have implemented Intelligent Process Automation to authenticate customers using voice recognition which is a safe and easier method to transfer medicines and make payments. We could have been familiar with voice assistants that spice up our day with music or any data requested. Simple AI usage in smartphones like face recognition has uplifted the phone’s security and also the seller’s profit margin. Thus, Intelligent Process Automation is a win-win adding value and elevating business outcomes to lead the market. 

Benefits of Intelligent Process Automation

A survey by PwC stated that “Almost  77% of business leaders consider intelligent process automation to be a key driver of their organization’s competitive advantage”.  Of course, they are right. IPA enforces a multitude of benefits more than just improving the efficiency and productivity of an organization. It is a superpower with vast landscapes of benefits and let us take a look at them here.

  • IPA setups are autonomous to streamline your business process with minimal or sometimes no human help or intervention.
  • They don’t require huge capital investment as there is no necessity to entirely demolish your existing automation setup. IPA environments can be built on the existing systems and infrastructure.
  • As human intervention is minimal to none in IPA, tasks are error-free and accurate. This boosts the overall operational efficiency and enhances your profit margin.
  • With IPA, risk mitigation is at its peak as systems can predict the outcomes and help you stay proactive. This fosters a culture of innovation and agility.
  • As automation can be known as making machines perform that boring recurrent tasks of your employees, there lies a black hole: in mindless automation, if the input data is erroneous, you end up automating the erroneous data multiple times which can aggravate the loss as enough to hurt your business reputation. However, this is not the case with IPA as IPA is an automation enriched with cognitive capabilities and they are capable of interpreting the context. In such instances, there is a possibility of stopping the process with an error rather than replicating the error a million times with IPA. 
  • IPA  brings in a multitude of cognitive technologies to automate mundane tasks, freeing up your employees to focus on their creativity or productivity. This fosters a culture of innovation among your employees as they feel engaged and refreshed doing value-added activities and helps with increased employee retention.
  • IPA is capable of transforming unstructured data with the knowledge gained from the structured data set and predicted patterns. This framework helps organizations make data-driven decisions and predict the outcomes with such intelligence process automation tools.
  • IPA tools are flexible allowing business processes to be more agile and improve as they predict, learn, and adapt to the dynamic scenarios.
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How to Implement Intelligence Automation in Your Business?

Though individual elements of IPA are beneficial, the complete IPA suite can help organizations unlock significant value and benefits. An IPA business model should facilitate a resilient and flexible approach to streamline end-to-end business processes. Here is a checklist to consider to know better about what it costs to implement the right IPA strategy and unveil the maximum potential of the system. Let us maximize our efforts to tick all the boxes up in order to experience a scalable and sustainable change in your existing business model/framework with IPA.

IPA setup does not require a huge capital investment or significant infrastructure as it can be built/implemented over the existing setup. Since IPA implementation should drive your organization toward your goals while making the system more viable for digital transformation.

  • Know your business process model. Map all your business processes and know the automation setup/ framework is already in life.
  • Get a deep understanding of the existing strategy and its intentions. Know how they are applied in every business process to make them align with your business goal.
  • Identify areas that are likely to drive operational efficiency and organizational growth through IPA in the operating model.
  • Invest in the right fit IPA software that can integrate smoothly with your existing infrastructure. Integrate this cognitive framework into your smart workflows. Redefine/re-engineer them if necessary.
  • Encourage adapting to change with required training and support. Upskill your workforce as there is a chance of getting to work with multiple technologies in an IPA setup.
  • Deploy the new processes, assign roles, and monitor the team involved. Check and monitor the collaborative tasks among IT and other core business processes.
  • Running supportive programs to build trust for IPA setup is as ‘a human-human interactional setup or can even do better’, to bring acceptance among your workforce and the customers.

Wrapping Up

As Intelligent Process Automation empowers businesses beyond the limitations of conventional automation, it is more than a revolutionary way to transform your business toward digital evolution. Your data is processed with cognitive technologies, and the strategic decisions by Intelligent Process Automation never fail you with benefits beyond just improving your operational efficiency. Intelligent Process Automation helps businesses proactively address challenges and make data-driven/smart choices.

Experience the maximum potential of IPA with Cflow, a no-code automation solution. Since IPA brings together a multitude of technologies and tools, it is necessary to look for a workflow solution that scales to be compatible with all these technologies. Cflow is a no-code BPM tool that helps you build workflows in seconds. The drag-and-drop visual workflow builder makes this simple and try it for free by taking the free trial now.

Embrace the full potential of Intelligent Process Automation with Cflow. Sign up now!

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