In the conversation about intelligent process automation (IPA), misconceptions and myths abound. Organizations believe it is too difficult, expensive, or ineffective. The reality is that hesitancy around adopting automation often comes from a lack of knowledge or a state of fear. It’s true that automation, especially intelligent automation, doesn’t deploy in a day or magically improve your operations. However, it can add substantial value to your business now and in the future. Failure to take advantage of it could impact your company’s ability to grow, scale, and succeed.
Let’s get to the facts about intelligent process automation.
What Is Intelligent Process Automation?
Intelligent process automation (IPA) combines AI, machine learning, optical character recognition (OCR), and other enabling technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA).
IPA represents a convergence of complex technology, but it’s not inaccessible to businesses, regardless of how mature their digital transformation is or how large-scale their automation acumen is. It may seem overwhelming because AI often feels like a black box behind the scenes. Really, it’s about amplifying RPA, which is the first level of automation. RPA does things like mimic keystrokes and extract data, and its use typically involves automating repetitive, rules-based tasks.
With IPA, you can elevate beyond those capabilities. But how does it work exactly?
How IPA Works
Think of IPA as the engine for boosting operational efficiency. These next-generation tools become assistants to knowledge workers. The technology allows robots to do human-like work, but it also learns and improves over time. It enhances RPA with these additional technologies:
Machine Learning Algorithms
Algorithms identify patterns in structured data and enable both “supervised” and “unsupervised” learning. The former learns based on inputs and outputs and can then begin to make predictions autonomously based on new information. The latter observes the data to provide insights into the patterns it finds.
This tool gives robots “eyes” to “see” screen elements using context just like humans do. Computer vision is more than screen scraping, which means faster implementation and more stable production.
With this capability, robots can understand unstructured data and can determine sentiment. Neither of these forms of detection is possible with RPA alone.
Although IPA is a complex concept, leveraging and deploying it doesn’t have to be. If you allow persistent misconceptions to delay your adoption, they can keep you from receiving the value IPA can bring.
The Value of IPA
Automation always brings value to a business. IPA delivers many benefits related to efficiency, cost savings, optimizations, innovation, and more. According to research, IPA can improve cost efficiencies by 20-35 percent, reduce process time by 50-60 percent, and realize up to triple-digit percentages on ROI. Let’s look at some examples of using intelligent process automation to explore how these improvements are possible.
With IPA, you can make processes more efficient. This matters because any inefficiency equates to waste, no matter your field. Robots take over tedious tasks such as data entry. However, they can’t help you with unstructured data, such as images or PDFs. IPA can aggregate and process that data and extract what’s relevant to the task at hand.
IPA understands context, which supports activities such as contract management. Companies often manage many contracts with both customers and vendors. You can use RPA to automate the basics of this management process. With AI, the technology can scan the contracts and comprehend the language therein to understand what needs to occur, such as evaluations, renewals, payments due, requirements, or changes.
IPA shortens process time for document-heavy endeavors such as mortgages. Application paperwork can be extensive, but IPA can help those working for the lender gather the key information, verify its accuracy, and submit it into the system. This smart document capturing and processing means loans reach approval faster and underwriters experience less stress.
Additionally, you can enjoy improved compliance with IPA. Many companies have to adhere to regulations and measures related to things such as data security, record retention, and accuracy in product descriptions. IPA can work as a flagging agent for any documents that aren’t following rules and trigger a review.
The value of IPA is clear, so it’s time to dispel those myths!
Debunking Myths Regarding Intelligent Process Automation
Here are some of the notions that are untrue about IPA.
1. IPA Leads to Job Losses and a Disengaged Workforce
IPA supports your team and helps them better allocate their time. It improves processes and eliminates repetitive tasks in addition to supporting higher-level analysis. As a result, human staff members can focus on more important work that requires human intervention
It can also change the types of jobs a company creates. Instead of using humans for data entry, consolidation, or validation, they can take on jobs focused on conducting deeper analysis and applying findings to business objectives.
The fear of automation as a job killer just isn’t accurate. In fact, 67 percent of people view automation positively. Additionally, a study found that 92 percent of respondents indicated improvements in employee satisfaction attributed to an automation initiative. Another 52 percent stated employee satisfaction increased by 15 percent or more.
When bringing in new technology, businesses can help employees upskill and reskill to contribute more value.
2. IPA Involves Physical Robots
When industry professionals talk about robots, we mean digital ones. Automation is not an army of robots sitting and working in cubicles. It’s code and algorithms in software that performs actions—clicks, scans, and entry, to name a few.
3. It’s Too Expensive
One of the most common objections to IPA is that the technology costs too much. It’s not inexpensive, but it is an investment that delivers substantial ROI in many ways.
Implementing IPA means retooling your processes to create cost efficiencies. As noted in the stat above, you can expect this. The ROI of IPA occurs faster than with a lot of technology. It immediately has an impact on your operations. And if you choose not to take advantage of IPA, you’ll face the opportunity cost of not being agile and innovative.
4. IPA Only Delivers Efficiency
Yes, IPA focuses on efficiency, but it is not a one-trick pony. It provides lots of other benefits, including cutting costs, improving employee productivity, bringing greater satisfaction to employees, eliminating errors, enhancing customer experiences, and helping you remain compliant.
The examples of its value noted above demonstrate that it can holistically change how you operate. Every business aspires to this kind of positive transformation, and it is possible with IPA tools.
5. Automation Is Only for Simple Tasks
RPA is the base level of automation, and it does focus on repetitive tasks that don’t require human intervention. Building on top of that is IPA, which can do so much more. You give RPA superpowers when you add AI to it. The critical difference is the ability to process unstructured data into structured formats that are then ready to be analyzed for better decision-making.
IPA isn’t going to replace the human element. Instead, it shortens the processes of digesting and processing data. And remember: It learns and gets better over time.
You Have the Facts; It’s Time to Automate
We’ve debunked some myths about IPA, and you have a clear picture of how it works, why it’s valuable, and how you can use it. Now it’s time to kick off your automation journey. Start by watching our on-demand webinar, “Idea Mining: Supporting Digital Process Automation.”