Process automation is an important aspect of any organization. Businesses have become much more fast-paced than what it used to be. Customers expect nothing less than the best. Robotic Process Automation has grown at an unimaginable rate since the start of the century thanks to this need. But a new trend could be spotted in recent years that seems to be paving the path for Intelligent Automation.
Robotic Process Automation is a huge industry in itself. The report curated by the Forrester suggests that it is only a matter of time before it evolves into a billion-dollar business. In fact, they predict that the global RPA industry is going to be a $1.5 billion business by the end of 2020. And the industry is yet to see any real sign of a slowdown.
All being said and done, Intelligent Automation is gaining some real traction in recent years. There are some fundamental differences between Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation (IA) that need to be clarified.
When you think about automating processes, RPA is the actual workhorse that does all the heavy pulling. It is the RPA using which organizations automate repetitive tasks and reduce manual labor. A task that could have taken several minutes, or even hours in the worst case, can now be executed more efficiently in minutes or seconds.
Another huge gain is that as computerized bots tend to be operated by strict rules, there is basically no scope of misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Moreover, the error rate is minimized.
Automation is there to ease out the repetitive tasks. Billing, invoicing, or data scraping – all of them require you to do some predetermined task, in some predetermined fashion. Humans are, generally speaking, terrible at such iterative tasks where you need to do the same thing again and again.
The automation software, on the other hand, is excellent at handling such mundane jobs. You can thus save precious working resources by separating such painstaking, iterative processes. Free human resources can be employed in something more meaningful, something that requires human intellect.
Now compare that to Intelligent Automation. IA acts more like the brain of the whole automation workflow. The greatest thing about IA most probably is that it’s ‘intelligent’. Often powered by artificial intelligence, it aims to mimic the human intellect at a lower level – at least tries to do so. It tries to ‘learn’ from their human counterpart over time to eventually become proficient at the given task. To one’s surprise, they can surpass even the human capabilities at a certain type of task.
But how come ‘intelligent automation’, as the name suggests, is ‘intelligent’? Where does it get the intelligence from? Well, most of the intelligent automation tools use various cutting edge technologies under the hood. It can incorporate Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and various other technologies. By using the myriad of techniques mentioned earlier, it gains the problem-solving and reasoning ability using which it can attain superhuman capabilities.
Intelligent Automation is being used throughout the industry for solving a number of different problems. Scraping data from documents is tedious, and at the same time, tough task. One of the main issues of data scraping is that the document needs to be structured (or semi-structured even in the worst case). Think about the structured invoice or bill that usually comes in a fixed format. But what about unstructured documents than like emails and letters?
Intelligent automation based tools can be used for scraping data and extracting information from the unstructured documents. It has the inherent ability to learn what to do next… quickly. And the icing on the cake is that it keeps learning from past mistakes and getting better at what it does. It’s really hard to not like intelligent automation, isn’t it?
Till now, we had seen a lot of things that go in favor of Intelligent Automation. Like it’s mentioned, it’s really hard to not get impressed by what IA can deliver. But is it really worth it?
Hundreds of technology offerings are out there that have the potential to deliver the value that a company looks for. But most of them miserably fail to do so. When you, as a corporate organization, weigh a new technology you mainly focus on two aspects: first, you check out how the tool can help the workers get the job done more quickly, more accurately, and second, upon investment how it would deliver the business ‘value’. ‘Value’ is the keyword here.
According to the report from Mckinsey, Intelligent Automation has been a big success for the organizations. Organizations that have implemented and harnessed the power of IA have seen on an average 20-30% run rate efficiencies (automating on an average 50-70% of the tasks). They also report that an average reduction of 50-60% has been seen in the process runtime. Moreover, the return-on-investment (ROI) have in many cases touched the triple digits.
Another research by the Futurum on various organizations shows that many of the organizations understand and comprehend the value that IA promises to deliver, and nearly 2/3 of the organizations have plans on investing in either RPA or IA in the next 5-7 years.
The same study reveals that nearly half of the organizations that were interested in investing in RPA and IA are willing to do the same in the next 12 months, nearly 1/5 willing to invest in the next 12-18 months, and 1/10 in the next 2-5 years.
As you can tell by now, IA is an immensely powerful technology. In fact, it IS the future of all kinds of automation. And it is no secret that successful, efficient business operations are the resultant of automation.
RPA is an excellent starting point. It can prove to be an important operational tool. However, without the helping hand of Intelligent Automation, it is not going to get too far. No matter if you start with the RPA or nothing at all, be sure to explore the possibilities that Intelligent Automation opens up.