Sep 19, 2022
How Intelligent Automation Can Help Businesses Adapt
Businesses are always looking for ways to become more scalable, agile, productive, and competitive in a rapidly-evolving landscape. AI and automation have long been effective strategies to achieve those goals in the tech-savvy business playbook. However, treating them as separate entities limits their benefits to specific silos in the business. Businesses can achieve holistic improvements at every level by combining them and leveraging the power of intelligent business process automation. It’s no wonder that the Intelligent Process Automation market is expected to grow from $13.6 billion in 2022 to $25.9 billion in 2027.
Is automation part of digital transformation?
In short, yes. Automation is a core component of digital transformation. In fact, for many businesses, automation is the first and most vital component with the potential to impact everyday business operations positively. Automation also allows firms to extract more value from sophisticated digital transformation technologies, like AI, machine learning, and the cloud.
There are many different types of automation with varying degrees of sophistication. RPA (robotic process automation) is one of the most popular today. RPA automates repetitive and mundane tasks, such as invoice processing, onboarding, or data processing. Automating these processes is more efficient, frees employees to focus on strategic tasks, and eliminates errors.
RPA typically relies on “bots,” specialised software systems developed to solve specific human tasks. While it’s similar, RPA is distinct from BPA in several ways. BPA, or Business Process Automation, is another sub-field of automation that we’ll discuss further below.
Many other forms of automation are used in businesses today that permeate almost every department, task, or business process. For example, task automation, marketing automation, process automation, integration automation, AI automation, and more.
What are the main benefits of automation?
As mentioned, automation is a broad field. Different automation applications will lead to varying benefits for specific businesses, teams, departments, or stakeholders. However, in general, you can expect the following benefits from utilising automation:
- Lower operating costs
- Improved worker safety
- Smaller lead times
- Faster ROIs
- Increased productivity or output
- Improved quality of products and services
- Reduced employee burnout and higher happiness
- Maximising your employees’ potential
- Better adherence to governance and compliance
- Improved service reliability and consistency
In general, automation allows businesses to do more with less by eliminating the need for superfluous manual work. That means that employees have more time and energy to spend on strategic problem-solving and core business functions. Automated software systems can also execute certain tasks with greater speed, accuracy, and scalability than humans. For example, automated provisioning or manufacturing systems can run 24/7, not just within business hours.
What is business process automation?
Business process automation uses automation technology to complete business processes with minimal human intervention. It’s distinct from task or RPA automation because it’s not focused solely on a single task, team, or department. Business processes can span multiple departments through complex workflows that achieve a particular business goal.
For example, BPA can involve the end-to-end process of creating and releasing a new product. In this case, as soon as the product team comes up with a new idea, they can kick off a process that sends the idea to marketing or management for approval. From there, the system will automatically initiate a new development project and inform the relevant parties. The process can then go through a complex series of development -> test -> feedback -> rework according to the business’ production lifecycle.
BPA is also used in applications for HR and employee onboarding, marketing customer onboarding, and IT and technical support. Many of these processes rely on routing documents or approval steps through multiple steps in a pre-defined workflow. In turn, BPA can kick off and rely on multiple RPA systems that handle specific tasks along the way.
What are the benefits of business process automation?
The benefits of business process automation are similar to those of automation in general. However, there is a greater focus on standardising key business process that simplifies and streamlines complex internal workflows. The benefits may be harder to quantify directly because they improve the organisation’s overall efficiency instead of improving metrics for a specific task.
That being said, here are some of the key benefits of implementing business process automation:
- Saving time
- Increased profits
- Higher productivity
- Improved efficiency
- Minimising occurrence of errors
- Improved governance and compliance through standardisation
- Improved internal auditing
- Enhanced customer experiences
What is intelligence process automation?
Intelligent process automation (IPA) involves integrating multiple technologies to automate complete, end-to-end business processes. In some ways, it combines RPA and BPA with another distinct AI field, called intelligent automation (IA).
IA combines automation (RPA, BPA) with intelligence-based technologies, like AI and machine learning. Today, IA is also evolving to span cutting-edge AI fields, such as natural language processing and computer vision, to execute more sophisticated and specialised tasks. IPA goes one process further by applying IA to end-to-end business processes, as discussed above under BPA.
To see why intelligent business process automation is needed, let’s look at a typical invoice processing example. It’s easy to imagine a BPA workflow that eventually routes an incoming invoice through the relevant parties to authorise a payment. However, at some point, someone will still need to manually review the invoice for compliance and ensure it’s error-free.
An intelligent business process automation system would include an intelligence-driven system capable of automating the invoice checking process. So, a business would enjoy the benefits of both a conventional BPA solution as well as an AI solution.
In a way, IPA represents what’s currently the peak of combining intelligence with automation to improve business value. It brings together many different components, including:
- Artificial intelligence: Complex algorithms combined with machine learning to analyse data, predict outcomes and accelerate decision-making.
- Business process management: Automating workflows to improve efficiency, standardisation, flexibility, and scalability within an organisation.
- RPA: The use of specialised software tools to complete back-office tasks in an efficient and scalable way.
Applications for IA exist in nearly every industry or business. However, it’s currently being heavily implemented in fields such as automotive manufacturing, healthcare, and insurance.
What are the benefits of intelligent automation for businesses?
In some way, IPA has the potential to deliver the benefits of AI and automation at every level of the business. From mundane, repetitive back-office tasks to company-wide processes that involve logistics, everyday operations, production, and service delivery. With that in mind, here are the benefits of intelligent business process automation:
- Increased ROI: The combination of automation and IA allows businesses to scale production without negatively impacting quality or risk. Complex rule-based systems ensure compliance and accuracy, reducing the need for internal auditing of systems and processes. In short, this equals a higher yield while investing less time, money, and resources.
- Accurate decision-making: AI is maturing rapidly and is capable of increasingly complex decision-making in shorter timeframes and with less chance of error than humans. Combined with machine learning, AI systems can improve accuracy over time without manual intervention. The scalability of the cloud has the potential to exponentially increase businesses’ computing capabilities, allowing companies to get more value from their data faster.
- Enhanced customer experiences: Endpoint AI can deliver the advantages of intelligent computing to customers and clients from close proximity. By bringing down lead times and increasing an organisation’s ability to analyse complex behavioural data, companies can also deliver more valuable and relevant products in less time.
- Compliance and governance: Due to regulatory pressures and heightened public awareness, businesses are under more pressure than ever to enforce proper compliance and governance, especially concerning sensitive data. However, it’s also becoming more important from a productivity standpoint as processes and technologies become more complex. AI has the ability to apply governance and compliance measures consistently without sacrificing efficiency.
According to a study by McKinsey, companies that implement IPA experience some pretty radical results:
- The ability to automate 50 to 70% of all tasks,
- Translating to annual run-rate cost efficiency by 30 to 35%,
- Reducing straight-through processing times by 50 to 60%,
- Leading to triple-digit returns on investments.
So, is intelligent automation necessary for digital transformation? Both the short and the long answer to this question is yes.
In one stroke, intelligent business process automation allows businesses to eliminate the inefficiencies associated with replicable, routine tasks as well as streamline and optimise their core business processes.
It’s quickly supplanting its predecessors, AI, RPA, BPA, and IA, as the way for businesses to revolutionise their operations by eliminating inefficiencies, attaining scalability and agility, driving customer value, and out-pacing their competitors.
The only catch is that implementing widespread IA at every level of business can be a real challenge. Many organisations don’t have the specialised AI expertise required to pull off this kind of digital transformation while addressing the business’ chief challenges and objectives.
Enlisting the assistance of an expert intelligent automation service provider, like Innovotech, will benefit a forward-looking business through accelerated uptake and a smooth implementation process. Not to mention consistent and goal-oriented outcomes thanks to the high-quality design & delivery solutions.