What is intelligent process automation?

Automation is great for everyday workflows and processes. But it can’t really handle anything decision-based. AI can automate decisions, but using it for everyday workflows and simple processes is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.

But what if you combined these tools?

Intelligent process automation (IPA) is the new upgrade to your basic automation. It’s a tool that’s equipped to handle both the everyday, and the more nuanced. Here, we explore IPA a little deeper.

What is intelligent process automation?

Intelligent process automation is the next level in the ongoing growth of process automation. It’s also known as intelligent automation (IA) or sometimes referred to as RPA 4.0.

In its simplest terms, intelligent automation combines artificial intelligence algorithms with more traditional process automation.

It is automation enhanced with machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing (NLP). With these functions at its disposal, it can automate more tasks, and support human workers in more areas.

How it’s different

Traditional process automation works by following clear, step-by-step rules. Whether it’s BPA or RPA, it will do the same things the same way every time. These tools don’t adapt, they do as they’re either told or shown.

Meanwhile, intelligent process automation is more flexible. It includes all the capabilities found in RPA, but adds extra scope and functionality.

This means that when it comes to using intelligent process automation, there’s less hand-holding/hard coding required to set the needed rules. Plus, thanks to machine learning, IPA can learn from feedback and adapt to changes in real-time.

Types of data

Intelligent process automation works by structuring unstructured data. So, it’s helpful to understand the difference between structured and unstructured data.

Structured data is easy to search and use. It’s uniform, quantitative data that fits neatly into a spreadsheet, for instance. It includes things like names, numbers, addresses, location, etcetera.

Unstructured data, meanwhile, is harder for computers to analyse. It’s things like images, video, natural language use, handwriting and so on. It is data that doesn’t have the same format or appearance every time.

With as much as 90% of data generated daily falling into the category of unstructured data, companies must find a way to manage it. And that’s what makes IPA so powerful. 

Unlocking unstructured data

The main benefit of intelligent process automation lies behind its ability to make the unstructured structured. (Meaning that the analysis and organisation of unstructured data is now automatable.)

Intelligent automation can extract the important information from things like pictures. From natural language. From audio or video. And from there, IPA can learn from its extractions.

 In turn, this means that you can automate processes that need to use unstructured data. Intelligent automation can even decide the best course of action based on its analysis and make suggestions to help your team.

In other words, alongside the repetitive and routine tasks that your automation handles, intelligent process automation can handle the anomalies and infrequent tasks too.

Intelligent process automation

So, what is intelligent process automation?

Simply, IPA is the product of combining AI and automation. It brings new abilities to your automation options, allowing you to reap the benefits of automation in more areas of your daily workload.

Useful links

The new buzzword: what is robotic process automation?

What is machine learning? A beginner’s guide

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