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What Are Robotic Process Automation and Intelligent Automation?

Employees invest substantial time in mundane tasks like data entry, invoice handling, or order acknowledgments. Manual document processing not only drains resources and ties up talent, but also hurts employee engagement, introduces errors, and slows down your operations

Established technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and newer solutions such as Intelligent Automation can transform workflows by taking over repetitive tasks from employees.

Read on to learn more about RPA and Intelligent Automation, and discover how Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) offers an approach that provides the best of both.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

RPA leverages software programs known as “scripts,” or “bots” to handle high-volume, repetitive tasks typically performed by employees. RPA bots mimic keystrokes and mouse clicks to carry out a wide range of manual tasks just as a human would, including filling out forms, moving files, and extracting information from documents.

What Are the Benefits and Limitations of RPA?

While RPA is a useful automation tool with many benefits, it also comes with some caveats you should consider. Let’s take a look at the advantages and limitations of RPA:

What Are the Advantages of RPA?

  • Increased Efficiency and Productivity: With RPA taking over tedious, repetitive tasks and driving greater efficiency, human employees can refocus on higher-value work better aligned with their skills, increasing both engagement and productivity.
  • Reduced Errors and Improved Accuracy: Bots can keep processes running consistently without fatigue or distraction, boosting accuracy and eliminating

    human error

  • Cost Savings: As RPA reduces the need for manual labor, you can achieve more with the same headcount and fewer overtime hours.
  • 24/7 Availability and Scalability: Software robots work around the clock without breaks. Bots can be built and deployed rapidly, so processes can be scaled by adding more bots without hiring extra employees.

What Are the Limitations of RPA?

  • Narrow Application: RPA works well for standardized, repetitive, and rules-based tasks but struggles with unstructured data, exceptions, and dynamic decision-making.
  • Brittleness: Bots depend on static user interfaces and consistent data formats. Changes in workflows or updates to systems can easily stump them and require manual intervention.
  • Lack of Intelligence: While efficient, bots cannot learn, understand or interpret data, or respond to novel situations. Human oversight is still crucial.
  • Increases Technical Debt: By automating existing systems without fixing inefficiencies, RPA can increase technical debt. RPA scripts also require updates and maintenance.
  • Becoming Outdated: Maintenance needs and inability to adapt make RPA less efficient and cost-effective compared to newer technologies. Businesses are shifting towards AI, machine learning, and intelligent process automation for more flexible solutions.

What is Intelligent Automation?

Intelligent Automation (IA) combines robotic process automation with technologies, such as AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to enable the smart and efficient automation of complex business processes.

What Are the Key Components of IA?

Let’s take a look at how the key automation technologies are leveraged by Intelligent Automation:

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): As we have seen, RPA is used to automate simple processes. In Intelligent Automation, RPA is combined with AI to create more flexible and adaptive automation solutions.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Enables machines to learn, adapt, and make decisions based on data and past experiences. This allows IA to handle more complex and unpredictable tasks than RPA.
  • Machine Learning (ML): ML algorithms enable IA systems to learn and improve performance over time without being explicitly programmed, enabling the accurate and efficient automation of tasks like data analysis, pattern recognition, and predictive modeling.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Allows IA systems to understand, interpret, and generate human language, allowing for more accurate automation of tasks like document processing.
  • Character Recognition: Optical Character Recognition (OCR) identifies text in scanned documents and images.
  • Computer Vision: Crucial for interpreting the patterns and features of visual information such as signatures and unusual fonts.

The Advantages of IA Over RPA

Augmenting RPA with technologies such as AI and ML allows Intelligent Automation to deliver additional benefits, such as:

  • Handling Unstructured Data: Technologies like NLP, OCR, and machine learning enable IA to process unstructured data such as emails and images, extracting relevant information and understanding context.
  • Cognitive Capabilities: Cognitive technologies that mimic human intelligence, allow IA to reason, learn, make decisions, and undertake complex tasks such as dealing with novel scenarios and resolving exceptions.
  • Adaptability: Thanks to its ability to learn from experience without reprogramming, IA improves with new data and feedback. Highly effective in dynamic environments with changing processes, regulations, or customer behaviors.
  • Flexibility & Scalability: IA allows easier scaling across departments or regions, enabling organizations to start small and adopt an iterative approach to scaling automation, optimizing processes based on performance data and feedback as your business grows.

Challenges in Implementing IA

As with RPA, there are some downsides to consider when implementing IA:

  • Complexity: The complexity of IA requires a deeper technological understanding and an ability to design and optimize AI models for specific applications. It can also be challenging to integrate IA seamlessly with existing systems.
  • Specialized Skills: Skills in data science, machine learning, software engineering, and domain-specific knowledge are essential for designing AI models, integrating them into systems, and ensuring they meet business and regulatory requirements.
  • Longer Timelines: The development of AI models involves a lengthy process requiring extensive data handling, experimentation, rigorous testing, and compliance checks to ensure reliability, security, and adherence to regulations.
  • OCR Limitations: Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, crucial for extracting text from images and documents in IA, faces several limitations including difficulty with handwriting recognition, confusion between similar characters, and limited support for non-Latin languages.

Intelligent Document Processing: The Best of Both Worlds

Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) is an application of Intelligent Automation that focuses on automating document-centric workflows. IDP combines RPA, AI, and ML to extract, classify, and process data from structured, semi-structured, and unstructured documents, enabling end-to-end automation of document processing tasks and eliminating manual document handling.

How IDP Combines the Strengths of RPA and IA

IDP leverages the benefits of RPA and IA in the following ways:

  • RPA for workflow automation: IDP software bots can perform tasks such as data extraction, validation, and routing of documents through predefined business rules.
  • Leverages AI and ML for intelligence: Advanced AI and ML capabilities enable the accurate extraction, classification, and interpretation of data from unstructured documents.
  • Multi-Format Handling: IDP leverages advanced algorithms to process structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data-rich documents, including scanned copies.
  • Connects end-to-end process: IDP integrates the entire document workflow into a unified automated process, enhancing efficiency, reducing cycle times, and improving accuracy.
  • Improves accuracy and scalability: IDP surpasses RPA by offering higher accuracy, efficiency, and scalability in automating complex document processing tasks. IDP can adapt to changing requirements, handle a wider range of document types, and improve over time through learning.

What Are the Benefits of IDP?

Automating document workflows with IDP transforms efficiency and unlocks a variety of compelling advantages, including:

  • Improved Customer Service: By slashing document processing times from days to minutes, IDP enables faster order and invoice processing.
  • Increased Productivity: Automating repetitive manual document tasks allows employees to focus on more intricate, creative, or customer-focused activities that are better aligned with their skills.
  • Enhanced Data Accuracy: Advanced AI algorithms reduce the opportunities for human error and improve data extraction accuracy.
  • Streamlined Operations: Instant data capture and extraction, along with automated document handling, enable smoother workflows and faster exchange of information, orders, and invoices.
  • Cost Savings: Thanks to reduced manual labor, faster processing times, and fewer backlogs, IDP reduces the expenses associated with manual document handling, and ROI can be realized in weeks.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Automated audits strengthen compliance and reduce the risk of errors and penalties.
  • Seamless integration: IDP solutions can be easily integrated with your existing systems and processes from ERPs to EDI.

Field Fastener significantly improved its customer service and revenue growth thanks to Conexiom’s IDP Solutions for sales orders, accounts payable, and order acknowledgements, saving thousands of hours annually to re-invest in customer experience.

Choose Conexiom as Your Partner for Intelligent Document Processing

While RPA has been widely adopted for automating simple, repetitive tasks, it falls short when it comes to handling unstructured data and complex processes. IA, on the other hand, leverages AI and ML to tackle these challenges effectively but it requires more extensive implementation efforts.

Conexiom's platform bridges the gap between RPA and IA, providing an easily-implemented and comprehensive solution for automating document-centric workflows. By combining the strengths of both technologies, Conexiom’s cutting-edge IDP platform empowers you to unlock the full potential of your digital transformation.

Conexiom also offers:

  • A proven two-decade track record of success in automating document-centric workflows
  • Unparalleled 100% extraction accuracy
  • Seamless integration with existing systems and processes
  • Dedicated support and expertise throughout the implementation journey

Take the first step towards a more efficient, accurate, and streamlined future by exploring Conexiom's solution today.

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