The business leader’s guide to robotic and intelligent automation


The business leader’s guide to robotic and intelligent automation

'Automate this'

As the nature of work has changed, so too have the methods of automation. Robotic process and intelligent automation tools can help businesses improve the effectiveness of services faster and at lower cost than current methods, but with important limitations.

Robots performing human tasks

We have seen it in the movies... we have read fantastical futuristic fiction about it as youngsters in school...and now it is upon us: Robots performing human tasks. The future posed by visionary film creators and novelists is still a bit further away, but the technological advancements which could make it possible are coming, and potentially with great speed. There is a buzz around how robots can transform business processes. We have been talking for years about robots – the droids that mimic humans in a factory – but now we are on the verge of seeing robots that replicate the human brain, rather than only arms and legs. Just like their physical cousins transformed manufacturing, these “virtual” robots are likely to change the way we run our business processes.

Smarter and more efficient processes

There are actually two separate types of genres of automation tools emerging, both of which the potential to make your processes smarter and more efficient, in very different ways. The first is a set of tools classified as “Robotic Process Automation (RPA)” which has been maturing quietly over the last decade, to the point where they are now used for enterprise-scale deployments. The second genre is “Intelligent Automation (IA)” – tools enabled by cognitive technologies, nascent, but with hugely transformative potential in the near future.

The benefits of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Classic process candidates that can benefit from RPA typically have repeatable and predictable interactions with IT applications including those that may require toggling between multiple applications (swivel chair). Rather than requiring fundamental process redesign associated with IT-driven transformation, RPA software "robots” are able to perform such routine business processes by mimicking the way that people interact with applications through a user interface and also by following simple rules to make decisions.

Once in place, new processes can often be assigned to them in days if not hours. Thus, RPA solutions generally:

  • have lower implementation costs
  • require shorter implementation time 
  • carry lower risk than large IT transformations

However, it is important to find the right processes and apply RPA judiciously. In most organizations, there are many routine processes performed manually that lack the scale or value to warrant automation via IT transformation, but for which macros and other such desktop automation tools are too limited to effectively address. RPA can help address this gap, reducing the ‘minimum viable scale’ of process automation compared to other traditional options.

Artificial Intelligence: automate non-routine tasks

By contrast, non-routine tasks – those involving intuition, judgment, creativity, persuasion, or problem solving – would appear to be very difficult to automate. But the decreasing costs of data storage and processing power are enabling rapid developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and creating a new breed of cognitive technologies with human-like capabilities, such as recognizing handwriting, identifying images, and natural language processing. When combined with robotic automation and powerful analytics, these cognitive technologies can form “IA” solutions that can either directly assist people in the performance of non-routine tasks or even automate those tasks entirely.

The business leader’s guide to robotic and intelligent automation

Download the business leader’s guide to robotic and intelligent automation ‘Automate this’ and read more about:

  • Process automation: What and why?
  • Nuts and bolts: Basics of enterprise automation using robotic process automation
  • Breaking through the hype: Six myths of robotic process automation and intelligent automation
  • Dip your toe … or dive in? Look before you leap
  • A glimpse of the future


More information on Robotic Process Automation? 

Do you want to know more on Robotic Process Automation? Please contact Kees Wim van den Herik at +31 (0)6 8333 9562.

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