What is Intelligent Process Automation?

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is a fairly new industry term which has started to be used more frequently by software vendors to describe a combination of technology applications used to achieve digital transformation.

The term is an evolution in Business Process Management (BPM), which in its essence is the practice of optimising processes to allow teams to become as efficient as possible by focusing on the tasks that matter. The digital drive of the last 15 years has heavily relied upon computer systems to achieve this optimisation (Digital Process Automation (DPA)), however as our data networks and communication channels have expanded these systems have begun to struggle with the influx of unstructured data being created.

IPA is the next step for BPM because instead of simply using rules-based decision making, as with the DPA approach which relies upon structured data, IPA systems implement approaches such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing or Intelligent OCR to optimise the process of handling semi-structured and unstructured data. Within DPA this process would need to be completed by human operators. It is, however, not all doom and gloom, in fact, IPA is exceptionally human-friendly (The 3 AI Scenarios). For example, Celaton’s Intelligent Document Processing platform, inSTREAM™, collaborates with human operators to support and validate its continual learning through a system called ‘Human in the Loop’.

So, why is all of this important? Firstly, it is important for any organisation embarking on a digital transformation journey to understand the terminology and acronyms being used by the vendors and analysts to enable them to make informed decisions. Celaton’s CTO, Richard Hill, has composed a short list of the most commonly used terms which can be accessed via Glossary of Terms.

Human in the Loop

Secondly, IPA has desegregated the way in which the industry as a whole understands technologies such as RPA, Machine Learning and ICR. Instead of each technology being applied individually to one task within a business process, combinations of these technologies are combined to create an intelligent approach to solving end to end business processes. Thus far extending the efficiency gains and benefits open to organisations.

As with the nature of evolution, IPA and the technology approaches it encompasses will adapt and improve to suit our environment, but what will remain the same is the need to understand and make sense of those requirements and technologies. This understanding and clarity is essential for the continued success of an organisation’s transformation journey.

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