by Gabrielle Lukianchuk, Chief Marketing Officer
Like an orchestra, intelligent automation is an ensemble of technologies playing a variety of instruments, with the different sections of the orchestra working together to create a harmonious and cohesive sound.
Businesses looking to employ intelligent automation (also referred to as cognitive automation or intelligent process automation) to reduce operational costs, provide better customer experiences, and achieve greater visibility into their processes aren’t looking for a single solution. Intelligent automation is a wide-ranging term that comprises a number of technologies, often used in combination, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), advanced analytics, and more.
While each of these technologies delivers inherent value in its application, achieving the greatest business outcomes from these technologies is a result of carefully integrating them to work in harmony.
Like an orchestra, intelligent automation is an ensemble of technologies playing a variety of instruments, with the different sections of the orchestra working together to create a harmonious and cohesive sound. Achieving intelligent automation in an enterprise means strategically combining several technologies to create a more sophisticated and efficient approach to automation. A single technology playing on its own—like robotic process automation, for example—doesn’t resonate as beautifully as it does when you add other instruments to the symphony, like intelligent document processing, for example. You’ll only experience the full potential of the music when these technologies play in harmony.
How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?
Each section of the intelligent automation orchestra is responsible for playing a specific range of notes—the notes that it plays best. The artificial intelligence (AI) section includes techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing to become more intelligent and adaptive to new situations. The robotic process automation (RPA) section has bots that can be employed for the more repetitive and tedious tasks that follow a standard routine. So, while you have technology that takes away routine tasks from employees, freeing them up for higher value work; you also have technology that adds intelligence, helping you achieve the insight you need for the tasks that require decision-making and problem-solving skills.
The combination of these different technologies is what delivers the results that truly sing. Eliminating tedious manual work also means reducing errors and inconsistencies that can occur when tasks are performed manually, leading to improved accuracy and quality. In this way, intelligent automation technologies are enabling organizations to work smarter, achieve greater productivity and efficiency, and reduce costs at the same time. The downstream benefits include helping a business be more agile in changing economies and therefore more equipped to stay ahead of the competition.
Finally, using intelligent technologies to automate repetitive tasks impacts both employee and customer experience. When staff are empowered to contribute to higher value tasks, their satisfaction grows, contributing to a more positive workplace culture. There is typically less staff turnover, productivity increases, customer service improves, and the entire brand reputation is positively impacted as a result.
Just like musicians have sheets of music telling them which notes to play, how fast or slow to play them, and how loud or soft to play them, there are prescribed steps in a business process that must be followed to get the best business outcome. But just as there can be one member of the orchestra that is playing out of tune, there can also be one step in a process that is not following the music, either because of a human mistake, technical difficulties, or other unexpected events.
In order to identify where and why your process has gone off course, you need to analyze the whole ensemble. Businesses use intelligent automation technologies like data analytics and process mining to do just this. One of the key benefits of process mining is its ability to provide organizations with real-time insights into their business processes. By analyzing data from existing systems and applications, process mining can create a visual representation of the process, revealing bottlenecks, delays, and areas where process improvements can be made. This information can then be used to make data-driven decisions to streamline processes, reduce delays, and increase the overall efficiency of operations.
Another important benefit of process mining technology is its ability to identify and eliminate waste in business processes. By analyzing event logs from process data, process mining can identify areas where resources are being misallocated or where tasks are being performed unnecessarily. This information can then be used to improve the overall process design, reducing waste, and freeing up resources to be used more effectively elsewhere.
Process mining can also help organizations to better understand their audience’s or their customers' needs and preferences. By analyzing customer interactions and feedback (Are you getting applause or not?), process mining can reveal areas where the customer audience is not satisfied, providing organizations with the information they need to make improvements and provide a better customer experience in the future–after all, any orchestra is happy if the audience wants an encore.
The conductor is the strategic decision-maker of the orchestra. The leader stands in front of the teams and signals them when to start and stop playing; he indicates changes in tempo, dynamics, and expression. An excellent intelligent automation conductor needs to be someone who excels with technical and artistic skills, as well as strong leadership qualities, and has the right strategy in place.
A list of unconnected digital initiatives is not a digital business strategy. The digital business strategy defines how the company will leverage digital technologies to develop its digital business. It is an integral part of the overall business strategy that requires its own approach.
Gartner, “The 4 Critical Components to Accelerate Your Digital Transformation,” 29 April 2022
To be able to develop a digital business strategy with intelligent automation, the leader must understand the technologies involved and what unique benefits they can bring to the business, standalone and in combination with other technologies.
An automation leader in a company knows which instruments from the orchestra are needed to create the perfect performance for the customer. And with a collaborative mindset, they will engage with the team and encourage employee feedback and input to create the best possible technology stack for the enterprise that positively impacts employee experience, customer experience, and operating costs. With strategic consultants and technology partners, an intelligent automation solution can be adapted to the exact needs of an organization and scaled up or down as needed, delivering the flexibility to meet changing requirements.