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What is intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation unites workflow automation, robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve a given process or workflow. Intelligent automation systems create efficiencies by automating repetitive manual tasks. Because these systems are AI powered, they can use machine learning and generative AI to automatically configure and continuously learn from and improve their approaches.

Intelligent automation is everywhere: in our houses (smart home devices), where we run errands (grocery store self-checkout kiosks), and where we work. In business, intelligent automation solutions are most frequently used to manage risk, cut costs, and free up time by expediting workflows.

Core components of intelligent automation

Intelligent automation is comprised of many different technologies. You might end up using one or several at a time to solve problems in your workflows. Here’s a quick explanation of each.

Robotic process automation (RPA)

In robotic process automation, bots observe and record how users perform certain tasks, then replicate those workflows. It’s useful for rules-based tasks like document creation, calculations, and error proofing.

Advanced workflows

Here at Nintex, advanced workflows are low-code workflows that are designed to lower barriers around automation. With an advanced workflow, you can automate nearly any business process without learning to code.

Document generation

In a digital world, paperless, automated workflows are a must-have for businesses. Intelligent automation lets you generate data-filled documents more consistently, which automatically improves compliance, reduces errors, and expedites processes.

Process intelligence

Process intelligence solutions help businesses extract actionable insights from their data, analyze that data for value, and use their findings to continuously improve their business processes.

Machine intelligence

Machine intelligence combines artificial intelligence’s ability to emulate human behavior with machine learning’s ability to execute tasks based on learned behaviors (as well as learn from and improve upon those behaviors). Machine intelligence also leverages artificial intelligence’s ability to generate automations from scratch based on human language input, making automations easier to configure and faster to deploy.

Mobile apps and forms

In a world where so much of business is conducted remotely, mobile apps and forms empower organizations to equip their workforces with tools that allow for easy data capture online or offline.

How intelligent automation works

Today, more and more businesses are using intelligent automation tools to yield incredible results. However, just as with any new process, it helps to develop a strategy before introducing it to your organization and individual teams.

Intelligent automation works best when you have a good understanding of where your processes are flawed. Take some time to identify tasks ripe for automation – manual tasks, ones that are easy to automate and take up a lot of time and resources. Once you’ve narrowed down that list, consider which of the core technologies we discussed above is right to deploy. (You can also contact us directly to talk about your needs.) Once your solution is in place, don’t forget about process improvement: test, study, and adjust your approach until you get the results you’re after. Then, rinse and repeat.

Remember how we mentioned that robotic process automation uses bots to learn and emulate human actions? That’s called rule-based automation, and it’s a popular tool for businesses looking to automate time and resource-consuming tasks that are prone to human error. For example, if a recruiter creates a rule about filtering applicants with less than three years of experience in a given field, a bot can automatically remove applications that fit those criteria from the pool.

What are the benefits of intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation has driven digital transformation in businesses all over the world, across many different industries, and shows no signs of slowing. Many studies found that even the simplest automation tools can revolutionize basic business processes. Some of the most common benefits of intelligent automation include…

Efficiency. Intelligent automation tools help you find, remove, or automate time- and resource-wasting steps in a given process, yielding better and better results (plus better data for process analytics purposes).

Risk management. With fewer repetitive tasks and fewer human errors, you’ll spend less time patching up security holes and less money on time-consuming audits.

Cost savings. Perfectly automated tasks use the exact number of resources allotted to that workflow – no waste, no extras, and no shortages.

Better experiences. Not just for customers, who reap the benefits of better end-products, but for your team, too. Automation frees up time formerly spent on troublesome manual tasks.

Strategic improvement. Keeping a competitive edge in an ever-changing world is simple when you’re always improving. Process optimization is a key component of any automation strategy and involves continuously learning from your data to improve your workflows.

Examples of intelligent automation

The tools we’ve discussed so far are all around us: at home, at the grocery store, at the gas station, and in our workplaces. (Here are 3 real-life examples of intelligent automation.) They make everyday life more efficient – not just for ourselves, but for the people who power those processes. Everyone benefits from processes that are fast, easy, and error-free.

Nearly every industry in the world has benefitted from intelligent automation. The most dramatic improvements can be found in industries that depend heavily on data and that must meet regulatory requirements to continue delivering value to customers and stakeholders: financial services, technology, and healthcare, to name a few.

Other industries that have benefitted from intelligent automation include:

Automotive: With energy efficiency, safety, and affordability all vying for top priority, automotive manufacturers glean incredible insights from their processes thanks to intelligent automation tools. This allows them to improve the manufacturing process, create safer products, and pass on more benefits to consumers (and to the planet). See how automation helped Cartelligent.

Real estate: Buying, selling, letting, and renting a home almost always involves copious amounts of paperwork: important, legally binding documents that can be challenging to keep in order. Intelligent automation tools make generating, storing, and retrieving those documents easier and more secure, especially for record-keeping realtors and landlords. See how intelligent automation helped Cimex.

Insurance: Calculating risk is a tall task in a world where risk changes all the time. Many insurers outsource these calculations with intelligent automation, enabling them to focus on customer relationships while continuously updating their understanding of policies, claims, and other processes that impact end users’ experiences. See how intelligent automation helped Wawanesa Insurance.

Challenges and considerations of intelligent automation

In every conversation about intelligent automation, concerns about human livelihood are bound to come up. Many people worry that automation will replace certain jobs, as well as eliminate much-needed human connection in certain services or industries.

At Nintex we’ve learned that intelligent automation empowers businesses to enhance quality of life for both personnel and customers. We’re delighted to hear that, thanks to our tools, many of our clients have freed up their teams to focus on more meaningful projects instead of repetitive tasks. What you’ll do with the time and resources you save matters most.

The future of intelligent automation

Though it may seem as though automation is suddenly everywhere, in every industry, it’s actually been around for quite some time. Businesses have been coming up with ways to improve processes for centuries. (The earliest form of automation might have occurred in prehistory, in fact, with the creation of the water clock!)

But only recently have automation tools have become widely and easily accessible thanks to advances in technology. Now even small businesses can benefit from intelligent automation, and we expect to see more and more organizations adopt these tools as time goes on.

Intelligent automation FAQs

What is the difference between intelligent automation and artificial intelligence?

Intelligent automation combines two principles (automation and artificial intelligence) to create a methodology for improving efficiency in any given process. Alone, artificial intelligence is a term used to describe the idea of intelligence in machines and software.

What is intelligent automation in simple terms?

Intelligent automation is a term used to describe a group of tools that can be used to cut costs, improve efficiency, and improve outcomes in workflows by automating them.

What is the main purpose of intelligent process automation?

At its most basic level, intelligent process automation helps businesses continuously improve their processes with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other analytics tools.

What is the difference between RPA and IPA?

Robotic process automation involves teaching and training bots to perform processes originally modeled by humans. It’s often used in conjunction with intelligent process automation and falls under that umbrella of tools.

How is intelligent automation different from low-code or no-code automation?

Low-code vs no-code automation: what’s the difference? Low-code automation requires very little understanding of code, while no-code automation requires none. Depending on your organization’s familiarity with coding environments, no-code tools may lower the cost of entry to automation. Both low-code and no-code automation are tools used in intelligent automation strategies.