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Unpacking Intelligent Automation

Automation and Artificial intelligence have been around for some time now. They have been revolutionizing the way our businesses work in almost every sector of economy. We now have an integration/collaboration of both, i.e. Intelligent Automation (IA). Intelligent automation, i.e. the combination of artificial intelligence and automation, is already helping companies transcend conventional performance tradeoffs to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and quality.

Applications range from the routine to the revolutionary: from collecting, analyzing, and making decisions about textual information to guiding autonomous vehicles and advanced robots. Automation together with human intelligence is redefining the way enterprises function. Initially, IA was used mainly in the manufacturing sector and in bits and pieces in other functions as well. Now, it is rapidly being integrated into other business processes.

Applications of Intelligent Automation

1. In Processing Situational and Textual Data IA gives machines the ability to capture and analyze situational or textual data and come up with an appropriate course of action.

2. Changing the way our business functions IA helps us address certain issues regarding the functioning of our businesses such as processing vast volumes of data or the problem of high labor costs and labor scarcity, among others.

3. Simplifying performance across various domains With IA machines can scan the data, check for correctness, spot inconsistencies, and come up with multiple courses of actions apt for the required business requirement.

Examples of Intelligent Automation in Decision-Making

1. In Financial Services Investment managers use IA to go through research data to identify consistencies. IA systems are capable of spotting inconsistencies through a vast volume of data that would have been otherwise impossible for a human to go through.

2. Health Care With the enormous amount of data available on medical research, robots could suggest alternate treatments based on the symptoms and medical history of the patient. This could lead to faster diagnosis and treatment of the patient as against a doctor who would have to invest many hours to look into the case. The final decision in regards to treatment would ultimately rest with the doctor.

WellPoint, a health insurance provider in the US, has implemented a utilization review system which utilizes IBM’s Watson cognitive computing technology. After about 15000 hours of training, the system is now able to understand the treatment prescriptions in unstructured English and match them to the WellPoint’s medical policies and guidelines.

This makes the system be able to provide quicker and better-informed decisions regarding the patient’s care and save significant time and costs.

3. Workflow Software and Conditional Logic There are always times in any process, even though automated, that the consecutive steps depend on the logical outcome of the previously completed tasks. A typical automated system might not be able to tackle such tasks. Intelligent automation systems are capable of analyzing the pre-existing data regarding similar situations in the past and decide the direction of the workflow.

Examples of Intelligent Automation Involving Physical Tasks

1. Distributing Products Kiva Systems developed robots for companies such as Crate & Barrel and Walgreens that are able to work and travel in warehouses without colliding with any obstacle, a fellow robot or a human while working on the floor. These robots are able to think for themselves and improve their efficiency with which they are able to fulfill orders.

2. Robots Collaborating with Humans Robots working on the assembly line isn’t a new concept. However, earlier, robots were developed and programmed to complete specific tasks and were thus kept segregated from human workers for safety reasons. Volkswagen has introduced collaborative robots which are capable of recognizing human workers nearby and react to the situation accordingly. Thus, humans and robots are now capable of working together with harmony without concern for safety.

3. Driverless Cars Autonomous vehicles are in the news for all the right reasons. Driverless cars improve the safety on roads better than human drivers as they reduce the possibility of human error or distraction during driving. Autonomous driving technology by Google has empowered numerous cars already.


Advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation, supported by substantial capital investments, are fueling a new era of intelligent automation, which is likely to become an important driver of organizational performance in the years to come. It is important for companies in all sectors to understand and adopt intelligent automation, or risk falling behind.

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