By now we all know of RPA, but what is IPA (Intelligent Process Automation)?

mediumThis post was originally published by Mark Bridges at Medium [AI]

Note: This article originally published by my colleague David Tang.

We’ve all heard of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA is the emerging form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or artificial intelligence (AI) workers. When an organization undertakes Digital Transformation, RPA is typically the lowest hanging fruit driving most immediate impact.

But, what is Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)?

In short, IPA essentially augments RPA technology with additional emerging Digital Transformation technologies. In its full extent, IPA is comprised of 5 core technologies:

  1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  2. Smart Workflow
  3. Machine Learning (ML) & Advanced Analytics
  4. Natural Language Generation (NLG)
  5. Cognitive Agents

IPA replicates activities traditionally performed by humans (via RPA) and, over time, learns to do them even better (via Machine Learning).

The disruptive power of IPA is that it supplements traditional rule-based automation with decision making capabilities driven by emerging Deep Learning and Cognitive Technologies. Through this, IPA creates the following primary benefits:

  • Enhanced Efficiencies
  • Increased Employee Productivity and Performance
  • Reduction of Operational Risks
  • Improved Response Times
  • Improved Customer Journey Experiences

Let’s go into a bit more depth into the 5 component technologies of IPA.

1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA automates routine tasks, such as data extraction and cleansing, through existing user interfaces. The RPA “robot” has a user ID just like a normal employee. It can perform rules-based tasks, such as accessing emails and systems, performing calculations, creating documents and reports, checking files, customer complaint processing, etc. End-to-end processes can be fully automated and executed by the robot. The employee will only handle exceptions

For more information on RPA, take a look at our RPA Primer and Impact of RPA frameworks. Both of these are part of the Digital Transformation Stream.

2. Smart Workflow

These are algorithms that identify patterns in structured data, e.g. daily performance data. This is done through “supervised” and “unsupervised” learning algorithms. Supervised algorithms learn from structured data sets of inputs and outputs before beginning to make predictions (based on new inputs) on their own. Unsupervised algorithms observe structured data and begin to immediately provide insights on recognized patterns.

Advanced Analytics has already been implemented extensively within HR organizations to determine and assess key behavioral attributes in leaders and managers, so as to better predict behaviors, develop career paths, ad plan leadership successions.

3. Machine Learning (ML) & Advanced Analytics

The Smart Workflow process management software integrates tasks performed by groups of humans and machines. It can do this by sitting on top of RPA to help manage the full process. This allows employees to initiate and track the status of an end-to-end process in real time. The Smart Workflow software will manage handoffs between various groups, including between robots and human employees, and provide statistical reporting on process bottlenecks.

4. Natural Language Generation (NLG)

These are software engines that create seamless interactions between the human employees and technology by following rules to translate observations from into natural language. Structure performance data can be imported into an NLG engine to write internal and external management reports automatically.

5. Cognitive Agents

These are technologies that combine ML and NLG to build a completely virtual agent that is capable of execution tasks, communicating, learning from data sets, and even making decisions based on “emotion detection.” Cognitive Agents are being utilized to support employees and customers over the phone or via live chat.

As IPA handles more mundane business processes, human employees can focus on delighting customers and intellectually challenging work.

With all the benefits IPA, the business case for IPA Transformation as part of the overarching Digital Transformation Strategy should almost be self-evident. To undertake a IPA Transformation initiative, we can follow a 6-phase approach:

  1. Operating Model Alignment
  2. IPA Portfolio Buildout
  3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Development
  4. Value Creation
  5. Capabilities Development
  6. Change Management

Want to learn more about this approach to IPA Transformation? Take a look at our framework presentation on the topic, Intelligent Process Automation (IPA).

This framework is part of the Digital Transformation Stream. The Digital Transformation Stream also includes frameworks on the adjacent Digital technologies–e.g. RPA, ML, Analytics, etc.

Gain the knowledge and develop the expertise to become an expert in Digital Transformation. Our frameworks are based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. Click here for full details.

Digital Transformation is being embraced by organizations of all sizes across most industries. In the Digital Age today, technology creates new opportunities and fundamentally transforms businesses in all aspects — operations, business models, strategies. It not only enables the business, but also drives its growth and can be a source of Competitive Advantage.

For many industries, COVID-19 has accelerated the timeline for Digital Transformation Programs by multiple years. Digital Transformation has become a necessity. Now, to survive in the Low Touch Economy — characterized by social distancing and a minimization of in-person activities — organizations must go digital. This includes offering digital solutions for both employees (e.g. Remote Work, Virtual Teams, Enterprise Cloud, etc.) and customers (e.g. E-commerce, Social Media, Mobile Apps, etc.).

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library. FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“As a small business owner, the resource material available from FlevyPro has proven to be invaluable. The ability to search for material on demand based our project events and client requirements was great for me and proved very beneficial to my clients. Importantly, being able to easily edit and tailor the material for specific purposes helped us to make presentations, knowledge sharing, and toolkit development, which formed part of the overall program collateral. While FlevyPro contains resource material that any consultancy, project or delivery firm must have, it is an essential part of a small firm or independent consultant’s toolbox.”

– Michael Duff, Managing Director at Change Strategy (UK)

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients. In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over! The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight — it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

“Several times a month, I browse FlevyPro for presentations relevant to the job challenge I have (I am a consultant). When the subject requires it, I explore further and buy from the Flevy Marketplace. On all occasions, I read them, analyze them. I take the most relevant and applicable ideas for my work; and, of course, all this translates to my and my clients’ benefits.”

– Omar Hernán Montes Parra, CEO at Quantum SFE

Spread the word

This post was originally published by Mark Bridges at Medium [AI]

Related posts