What Is Intelligent Automation?

Intelligent automation (IA) is the combination of artificial intelligence and automation technologies to improve business processes. It’s headlined by exciting tech that organizations are using to automate repetitive, routine tasks. Amongst the newsmakers, you’ll find machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotic process automation (RPA). So what is intelligent automation, and how is it driving a $15.7 trillion shift in global business? 

What is intelligent automation?

Tech like ChatGPT and Midjourney are grabbing today’s news headlines—at this point, you’ve probably tested it out yourself. But automation isn’t an unproven tech stretching its legs for the first time. For example, RPA bots date back to the 2000s. Businesses used it to crunch basic numbers and populate Excel spreadsheets with content scraped from the web. Today, artificial intelligence is launching a new era of automation, marrying the two into a new moniker: intelligent automation. 

Is intelligent automation AI? Yes, AI is one technology powering IA. But behind the scenes, you’ll find other tech, too: 

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Machine learning
  • Computer vision
  • Robotic process automation
  • Intelligent document processing 

The combination of these technologies creates a sophisticated system that can handle complex tasks—without human intervention.

Hyperautomation vs. intelligent automation

When exploring automation software, you’ve likely come across a related term: hyperautomation. At first glance, hyperautomation and intelligent automation appear similar. While they’re often used interchangeably, they differ in one key area. 

First and foremost, hyperautomation is a mindset. Gartner defines the practice as a “business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” Hyperautomation expands the range of technologies beyond the process-specific; like digital twins, IoT sensors, and even robotic arms. 

Intelligent automation is just one of the possibilities to satisfy the mission of hyperautomation.

Benefits of intelligent automation for business

It’s no surprise that 35% of companies are already using intelligent automation in their business. And amongst the hold-outs, 35% are busy exploring the right AI tools for their teams. What are the chief advantages of intelligent automation for today’s businesses? 

  • Cost savings

By blending automation with AI, McKinsey reports companies can unlock up to 20% in labor savings. The analysts at Accenture predict AI can drive a 38% increase in overall profitability. With each day, artificial intelligence tools become even more accessible, shattering cost-savings estimates in the process. 

  • Accuracy

Human errors love to slip into spreadsheets. One errant keystroke can rack up fines into the millions—like TransAlta’s cut-and-paste mishap that cost the power company $24 million. For tasks that require a strict recipe of clicks and keystrokes, software bots can handle the job with higher accuracy than humans. 

  • Customer satisfaction

The right combination of IA tools can build a base of happy, loyal customers. Manual processes that are too slow are a customer drain: 49% of consumers report ditching a company after one bad experience. And that’s just over a one-year period. 

On the other hand, always-ready chatbots, faster processing, and rapid approval timelines can change a satisfaction score from slumped to soaring. 

For example, applying for a small business loan used to be a frustrating affair involving hours of appointments, paperwork, and wet signatures. Now, IA can run fraud checks, compile applicant data, and automatically pit applications against internal business rules. Providers can deliver instant decisions right from a self-service portal. 

  • Efficiency and Productivity

IA means more than a boost to the hard numbers: the savings tip soft numbers, too. One study by the University of California reveals that motivated employees are 31% more productive. They also close a whopping 37% more sales rather than discourage their counterparts. Simply put: exciting work thrills top talent. By cutting back on the mundane, you can improve your team’s output.

These are just a handful of the benefits one-third of companies using IA are currently enjoying. Let’s explore how top businesses use intelligent automation. 

How does intelligent automation work with business process automation? 

You can think of business process automation as a mail route.

You tell the system, the mailman, where to stop to pick up or drop off various elements. You might drop in a stop where the process needs to enter your CRM and pull a customer name. 

The sequence then carries on to the next stop: an RPA-charged waypoint that logs into a fraud database to query the name it just picked up. If the search returns anything suspect, the process moves on to the next task and alerts a manager: this finding requires further review. 

Here are some examples of how all departments can drop IA technologies into their business processes

Artificial Intelligence 

  • Marketing: BuzzFeed swept social media attention with quizzes musing over which Twilight character wanted to marry you. Now, they use AI to craft on-the-spot short stories gazing into your future like the middle-school game MASH.
  • Operations: A predictive maintenance process picks up an IoT sensor: a delivery truck’s tire pressure is running low. IA can schedule an available technician to have a look when the vehicle returns to HQ. 
  • Customer Service: Chatbots and virtual agents can hold lifelike conversations with customers. Retailers can provide delivery updates, or e-commerce brands can use them to dispense product advice on chat apps.

List of benefits of intelligent automation reflected in pie chart

Machine Learning

  • Sales: An RPA bot imports information from a signed agreement into your accounting system. 
  • Marketing: Some online shopping sites, such as flight booking or drop-shipping, use machine learning to price dynamically. Algorithms analyze competitor pricing, demand, and historical sales to adjust prices in real-time.
  • Accounting: Machine learning algorithms can analyze transactional data and identify unusual patterns that might indicate fraudulent activities like money laundering, embezzlement, or unauthorized transactions. 

Natural Language Processing

  • Marketing: NLP can scour thousands of product reviews to rate customer sentiments. Determine whether your users are having a positive or negative experience and tweak accordingly. 
  • Human Resources: HR executives use NLP to help computers read incoming data from resumes and applications. They can then use the insights to shortlist rockstar candidates. 
  • Manufacturing: Use NLP to analyze materials like maintenance and service reports to identify patterns and trends related to equipment failures or breakdowns. NLP can yank key information like issue descriptions or timestamps (even from handwritten text!) to identify common maintenance problems and predict potential failures. 

Watch our webinar about global search and natural language processing to learn how you can reap the benefits.

Intelligent Document Processing

  • Records: Medical offices use intelligent document processing to process patient charts, lab reports, and physician notes. IDP can turn handwritten notes into digital documents, and then extract relevant information like medications, diagnoses, and treatment plans. 
  • Legal: IDP is a boon for patent analysis, a process that’s rich in technical information. IDP systems enlist NLP and machine-learning algorithms to scour claims, descriptions, and citation data to identify potential infringements.
  • Onboarding: Banks use OCR and ML to extract relevant data from new account openings or loan requests. Extract relevant data from passports, driver’s licenses, or utility bills to run through automated KYC processes. IDP bolsters regulatory protections by categorizing and filing incoming paperwork, too. 

These are just some of the ways you can supercharge your business processes with the near-magic of artificial intelligence. 

Request a demo to see ProcessMaker IDP in action.

Creative ways businesses use intelligent automation

Your boardroom is probably buzzing with intelligent automation ideas. Most likely, they revolve around chatbots, social media content generation, and spreadsheet management. Contribute to the next session with a few creative, untalked-about ways organizations are also wielding IA:

Unexpected intelligent automation use cases in marketing

AI in marketing works for more than just digital products. How can you use AI for physical products, too? 

Instead of A/B testing, you can run tests until you’ve run out of letters in the alphabet. One florist uses artificial intelligence to test thousands of bouquet arrangements. Once they hit on the most popular combination of colors, blooms, and vase styles, they add it to the official line-up. 

How businesses use AI in travel and itinerary planning

Businesses are using artificial intelligence as travel agents. IA considers factors like budget constraints and travel restrictions to suggest itineraries for sales reps or conference attendees. This approach saves time, enhances the travel experience, and helps plan business trips that juggle multiple destinations. 

AI reinvents industries from 10,000 BCE

Computer vision technologies are also revolutionizing an industry that’s 12,000 years old: farming. Recently, Walmart filed a patent for pollination drones. Instead of crop-dusting a massive field, leading to waste and environmental concerns, drones can home in on a growth of weeds with a solitary zap.
The artificial intelligence industry is on the move, showing no signs of slowing. Each day, innovators launch new tools—and businesses in every industry are quick to seize the opportunity. PwC forecasts AI will have a $15.7 trillion impact on the global economy by 2030. How will your business tap into the revolution?


Exploring the benefits of Intelligent Automation? Contact us to transform your workflow and business processes.

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