Despite the hype around intelligent technologies, not all businesses understand how AI-enabled tools can be incorporated into their operational environments to make a meaningful impact. In reality, AI capabilities such as machine learning, natural language processing and machine vision are more readily accessible and easier to apply to daily processes than companies may think.
Simultaneously, robotic process automation (RPA) is entering the mainstream, providing businesses with software robots that can execute predefined tasks with greater accuracy and speed than their human co-workers. According to Gartner, the global RPA software market expanded by 63 per cent, outstripping the growth of all other enterprise software categories.
As the business community comes around to the many opportunities that AI and software robotics have to offer, organisations will also find it advantageous to explore the benefits of deploying these technologies together, along with a low-code digital process automation (DPA) platform that integrates seamlessly with these solutions and existing line-of-business systems. In addition to optimising processes through digitisation and automation, a DPA platform acts like a modern process management engine, efficiently orchestrating the flow of work between AI-enabled tools, software robots and humans.
AI, RPA and digital process automation are highly compatible; and when used in combination, they provide the foundation for intelligent automation – a business strategy that combines the strengths of these three approaches to shift business optimisation into high gear. This technology blueprint represents the next generation of enterprise automation solutions, providing organisations with the ability to automate a greater range of manual, repetitive human activities; gain greater value from human capital; and streamline workflows to accelerate digital transformation efforts.
Below, we touch on four of the many ways in which businesses can leverage intelligent process automation to create a digital transformation toolkit that will outpace competitors.
1. Enhance current business systems without disruption to operations
While many businesses are interested in harnessing the potential of AI-based technologies to advance their digital transformation strategies, they are often also intimidated by the perceived complexities of AI implementations.
One key concern is that onboarding integration will disrupt current IT systems and impact day-to-day operations. When current business processes and workflows are interrupted, this can be a costly issue – and one that many businesses cannot afford to risk. Impacts include a delay in work and reduced productivity, both resulting in a loss of revenue.
Fortunately, when AI is combined with a process automation platform that provides easy integration points, businesses can seamlessly introduce AI capabilities like machine learning, natural language processing and sentiment analysis into current tasks without causing disruption or delays to existing projects.
Therefore, through intelligent automation, organisations can not only maintain “business as usual,” but also substantially improve it.
2. Reduce common human errors while improving employee morale
In today’s competitive market, maintaining a creative and strategic workforce is essential for a business to succeed and stay ahead. One of the most pervasive misconceptions of AI and its evolution is that it will replace the need for people to fulfil a wide range of roles in the workplace, ultimately leading to a widespread loss of human jobs.
In reality, the opposite effect is often the case. While there’s no doubt that a range of routine tasks currently carried out by people are so robotic that they are better suited to automation, AI-based technologies represent an opportunity for humans to add more – rather than less – business value. This is because automation systems augmented with AI help to liberate employees from repetitive, mundane tasks and allow them to focus on the higher-level, more strategic and often more rewarding work.
Forbes’ 2019 “Accelerating Business Value with Intelligent Automation” report, which surveyed more than 300 senior executives who had deployed intelligent automation and RPA projects, found that an overwhelming majority – 92 per cent – had witnessed an improvement in employee satisfaction as a result of such initiatives.
Improved workforce satisfaction can also result in increased efficiency and better levels of talent retention, both key areas for helping a business maintain its competitive stance.
3. Unlock data to drive informed decision-making
Modern enterprises have access to greater volumes of data than ever before. With the right tools, data can be converted into valuable business insights that accelerate decision-making, improve risk detection and mitigation, and inform more relevant customer experiences, to name but a few of many applications.
Leveraging AI-based technologies allows businesses to tap into this potential and derive better value from data through intelligent data processing and advanced analytics.
Utilising process automation technology enables businesses to connect and integrate data systems into present process management tools. If data is unstructured, AI can be pulled in to automatically interpret and transform this information into a bot-friendly format, while unlocking insights that augment and enhance human decision-making capabilities.
Beyond that, with each interaction, the system could acquire more data about how decisions are made and apply statistical analysis to develop patterns around decision-making. Businesses can then use this data to make more informed, forward-thinking and strategic business decisions.
4. Achieve automation without risking security
Often, when a company is incorporating new technologies into its existing systems, there can be a perception of increased risk and vulnerability to the current programs in place. Security should always be a priority when handling corporate data. This is of particular importance when introducing new technologies into the enterprise IT environment, a time when IT leaders need to keep data safe and sensitive information in the right hands.
One way to deploy automation solutions while keeping the underlying systems intact is to use RPA technology. These software robots do not require integration at the application programming interface (API), because they interact with system features and data at the same user interface that human employees use.
This means that organisations can introduce process optimisation solutions that work with current business programs to automate rule-based tasks, helping to increase accuracy and reduce the risk of human error, without disrupting underlying systems or interfering with data protection protocols.
Considering that these are only four of numerous intelligent automation benefits, it is well worth gaining a deeper understanding of AI, software robotics and process automation – and how these technologies can be combined to deliver value. Working together, these approaches enable businesses to successfully execute their digital transformation strategies, dedicate both digital and human resources more efficiently, and adapt to market expectations with more agility than competitors.
Holly Anderson, senior director of product marketing, K2