What is intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation (IA) is the process of using artificial intelligence (AI) to make self-improving software automation. Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software technology that automates repetitive and labor-intensive back-office workflows like filling in forms, searching for information, or sorting invoices. RPA robots are software robots that interact with any digital system like people do. Intelligent automation technologies make RPA bots smarter to self-learn more complex tasks and use cases. Intelligent automation combines AI technologies like natural language processing (NLP), generative AI, and optical character recognition (OCR) to streamline business operations.

What are the benefits of intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation uses machine learning (ML) and other cognitive technologies to continuously collect, process, and analyze data. This continual stream allows it to suggest data-driven insights to your business. Your organization can make informed and strategic decisions. And over time, the repeated use of data-driven decision-making can streamline many business processes. 

IA also has several customer-facing benefits. With automatic responses, chatbots, and recommendations, it can provide 24/7 support to your customers. It also uses customer data to provide a better user experience. As IA continually refines itself, it can customize workflows to your individual customers more than people ever could. 

IA allows businesses to reduce the manual time spent on repetitive business processes and reduce human errors. With less human input, companies save time and money, decrease resource expenditure, and enhance workflows.

What are the use cases of intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation streamlines back-office workflows and has numerous applications in various industries.

Business processes

Business process automation reduces manual work and streamlines current workflows. It increases the efficiency of operations across data entry, financial logging, and even supply chain management. You can scale existing processes without needing to expand your workforce, which helps to increase the overall efficiency of your business. Intelligent process automation can remove some potential for human error, which saves resources and increases cost savings in the workplace.

Customer services

IA helps to create a positive customer experience and foster loyalty across several domains like retail, healthcare, marketing, sales, and finance. For example, it automatically updates appointment forms, sends reminders, automates scheduling, and gives real-time updates. You can analyze the customer data collected by intelligent automation tools and offer productive methods of honing the customer experience.

Business planning

In business intelligence, research, and data analytics fields, intelligent process automation helps to drive growth, future thinking, and strategic positioning. Intelligent automation can track repetitive tasks and locate unproductive areas. By automating tasks that take too much time in a business, you can free up employee time for more important matters. Employees can spend more time focusing on innovation and strategic thinking tasks. With many manual tasks done by IA, you can create a culture of continuous improvement.

How does intelligent automation work?

Intelligent automation involves a series of software processes that work collaboratively to optimize workflows. Several technologies work together to facilitate the process.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of computer science that solves cognitive problems typically linked to human intelligence. It's also a broad field that encompasses other technologies like ML and deep learning. AI uses existing data to become more effective every single day. 

Traditional automation tools can run predefined tasks. With AI, automation systems learn from data and user interactions. As you feed the tools more information, you expand the automation’s abilities. For example, it can recognize patterns and then use those skills to solve new problems. This is particularly useful in environments that are dynamic and change over time.

Read about Artificial Intelligence (AI) »

Machine learning

Machine learning (ML) is the science of using statistical models and algorithms so machines perform tasks without instructions. By using patterns, historical data, and inference, machines predict outcomes and act upon them.

ML algorithms use large volumes of historical data to train the IA on inputs and outputs. Without human intervention, intelligent automation develops more precise and efficient workflows.

Read about Machine Learning (ML) »

Natural language processing

Natural language processing (NLP) is a technology that allows computers to interpret and understand human language. You can feed text data like social media posts, emails, and texts into NLP software. The software will process this data, detect trends, and respond to real-time human communication.

NLP in intelligent automation improves the automated analysis of large text-based documents. Automation tools can also comprehend customer engagement and options in a better way.

Read about Natural Language Processing (NLP) »

Computer vision

Computer vision gives software human levels of accuracy when the software identifies people, things, and places in images. It helps automate image extraction, identification, and classification. You can rapidly upload an image library to gain a method of effectively detecting scenes, faces, and objects.

Computer vision technology can feed a continual stream of new images and objects into your automation system. You can use computer vision to build IA systems in fields like medical imaging, manufacturing process control, and autonomous driving. 

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Optical character recognition

Optical character recognition converts images of text into machine-readable text. It can process these images incredibly quickly. OCR allows the automation system to act upon information otherwise locked away in image files.

Because of OCR, you can integrate images of scanned physical documents into your business process management. For example, you can include hand-filled reports, forms, legal documents, and hand-written notes in business workflows. 

Read about OCR »

What's the difference between intelligent automation and robotic process automation?

Robotic process automation and intelligent automation both refer to the process of automating business workflows with software. However, RPA is a traditional technology where users recorded the tasks and the software copied the recording. For instance, the user could record a task. They could open a folder, open a file, copy the data into another system, then close the file. Then, RPA could repeat the same process at scale.

Building on that, IA is the future of RPA. It uses advanced technologies so RPA can automate increasingly complex tasks with minimum human intervention. Moreover, IA can learn and improve over time. For example, IA can extract relevant data from scanned invoices. Over time, it learns the frequent invoice templates your organization uses and gets faster and more accurate at data extraction.

How can AWS support your IA requirements?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has many offerings to support your work with IA. Machine Learning on AWS details a range of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) services that you can integrate into your automation workflows.

For example, here some AWS offerings you can use:

  • Amazon Personalize to quickly build and deploy curated recommendations and intelligent user segmentation at scale
  • Amazon Rekognition to automate image recognition and video analysis tasks
  • Amazon Textract to automatically extract printed text, handwriting, and data from any document

You can integrate these and many other AI/ML services with AWS Step Functions. Step Functions is a visual workflow service that helps developers use AWS services to build distributed applications, automate processes, orchestrate microservices, and create data pipelines at scale. You can process data on demand, visualize new workflows, and automate existing ones for customized intelligent automation.

Alternatively, you can browse the AWS Marketplace and choose from hundreds of existing and customizable IA solutions for a range of use cases.

Get started with intelligent automation on AWS by creating an account today.

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