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Intelligent automation and applied AI matter: here’s why.

Investing in new technologies, like Intelligent Automation is something any business can do. Smart tools can help businesses carve out a new niche or seize the advantage in markets that are increasingly global and competitive.

But before your business goes all-in on the latest technology trend, it’s vital to pause. Consider which shiny new offerings will work for your company’s situation and give you maximum return-on-investment (ROI) to boot.

We guarantee, if you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. That’s why we’re demystifying two of 2021’s fastest-growing technology trends: Intelligent Automation and Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI). That way, you’ll gain the clarity you need to decide whether these smart tools are right for your business.

What are Intelligent Automation and Applied AI?

It’s hard not to avoid hearing these terms and the hype that surrounds them at the moment. But what are these technologies? And how can businesses like yours use them?

Let’s start with Applied AI. AI in its purest form is intelligence, knowledge and action demonstrated by machines (sometimes called ‘Generalised AI’). Ultimately, it aims to create thinking and doing machines to equal or surpass humans in problem-solving and task execution by using the concepts of neural networks, deep learning and machine learning algorithms. For decades, AI was blue-sky research and the stuff of sci-fi movies, best confined to research laboratories. Applied AI, (sometimes called ‘Narrow AI’) however, relates to the way AI concepts, such as deep learning and machine learning, can be applied to provide real-world solutions for real-world problems. Applied AI is already part of our everyday lives. It’s hiding in plain sight in commercial settings, such as corporate offices and even production lines as well as the digital realm. Think Mindsphere the predictive manufacturing maintenance tool from Siemens, Avanade a joint venture analytics platform for business insights from Microsoft and Accenture, chatbots for online service and sales and closer to home Alexa from Amazon. Intelligent Automation refers to the fusion of Applied AI and robotic process automation (RPA). Now, if you’re wondering what’s RPA? And why does it have to team up with Applied AI? These are two questions we’re about to answer.

The rise of the machines

RPA is technology that enables humans to automate a manual process. RPA is best described as process-driven because it automates a pre-determined or set process. This technology tends to be an organisation’s first foray into the world of robotic automation. And it often leads to a later adoption of Applied AI in the form of Intelligent Automation. For these reasons, RPA is becoming increasingly accepted. And currently the uptake of these smart tools is growing at 30-40% a year.

When to use RPA

RPA is great for repetitive, rule-based, mundane tasks that are scalable and usually done by humans.

How RPA benefits businesses

  • Accuracy: RPA helps businesses achieve repetitive tasks with almost 100% of accuracy. It removes the potential for human error from the equation entirely.
  • Speed: If your business is looking for fast-turnarounds on repeated set-piece tasks, then RPA is for you. Robots can work faster than is humanly possible, so they make light work of your heavy lifting.
  • Increased productivity: Unlike their human analogues, robots can work around the clock, all-year-round with no breaks, no holidays and no sick leave. That means the productivity of your company’s rule-based tasks will increase stratospherically.
  • Cost savings and flexibility: With the jump in both the volume of your repetitive task and the speed at which your robotic assistant is completing them, your business will chalk up significant cost savings. Another plus point is you can scale these repeat-operations up and down at a moment’s notice and no additional cost. No need to hire new staff, change rosters or buy new equipment.

Before you stop reading this blog so you can place an order for a robot helper, let’s consider RPA’s limitations.

The limitations of RPA

RPA is not intelligent technology, and it lacks discretion. By that, we don’t mean it can’t keep a secret. We mean standard RPA can’t accommodate those exceptions that occasionally crop up with rule-based tasks. This is where RPA needs human help or AI to transform it into Intelligent Automation.

Autodidactic robots

While RPA is process-driven, AI, in its various forms, is data-driven. RPA technology can understand and use structured data. But it cannot understand unstructured data, let alone analyse it, draw inferences and learn from it. If you want robotic technology to analyse and learn, you need to enlist some AI. Once AI teams up with RPA, then you have Intelligent Automation.

When to use Intelligent Automation

If your business could benefit from technology that learns from data without being explicitly programmed, then AI — in the guise of neural networks and machine learning — could be just the ticket. Or if you need to analyse images, then AI-powered computer vision can assist you with this process. Deep learning and neural network AI is suitable for reading scanned documents that don’t contain the kind of electronic information regular RPA can cope with. The technology utilises the latest in image processing and statistics to recognise and predict with accuracy what the pixel means. Maybe your business could transform if robotic technology, assisted by deep learning AI, delved into multiple layers of data to produce valuable insights?

How Intelligent Automation benefits businesses

  • Intelligent automation is the step beyond RPA.
  • Business can harness its power to remove the roadblocks that trip up standard RPA.
  • In doing so, they can further enhance the speed, accuracy, productivity, cost savings and flexibility benefits of RPA.

The limitations of Intelligent Automation

Intelligent Automation is not a cure-all for traditional business operations that are sub-optimal. Neither can it replace your human workforce. Fully autonomous robots that can think for themselves at, or beyond the capability of adult humans, remain out of reach. So businesses should approach Intelligent Automation with the aim of strengthening their human and digital workforce and ultimately benefit their customers.

Finding the right technologies for your business

If you’re considering RPA or Intelligent Automation for your business, or you want to learn more about how leading technologies can assist your projects, portfolios or business transformation, ProjectAI can help. Contact us today on +61 8 6280 2040 or at [email protected] to start gaining new clarity and control of your business and your projects.

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