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Automate

8
min read
November 20, 2019

A Comprehensive Guide to Intelligent Process Automation

Jacob Thomas

Jacob Thomas

A regular contributor to Invisible, Jacob excels in his knowledge and ability to help businesses with marketing, product, and engagement with the power of words.
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Let's be honest, intelligent process automation sounds like something out of a Star Trek episode. But trust us, it's anything but science fiction; it's the future.

In this article, we'll answer the questions:

  • What is intelligent process automation?
  • What are the benefits of intelligent process automation?
  • What are the best intelligent process automation tools?
  • And a whole lot more!

We have a lot to get to so let's dive right in and get started.

For many companies, learning about IPA is a light bulb moment.

Intelligent Process Automation: A Definition

Before we get too far into the weeds, let's define intelligent process automation.

In a nutshell, intelligent process automation is the act of combining standard business process management (BPM) best practices with advanced technology and artificial intelligence in order to complete organizational tasks better and more efficiently.

Still confused? Think of it like this: intelligent process automation orchestrates technology and human labor to accomplish more in less time.

The Main Purpose of IPA

The main purpose of intelligent process automation — oftentimes shortened to just "intelligent automation" or abbreviated to "IPA" — is to improve company efficiency, productivity, and end results while reducing costs.

By using advanced software algorithms to synchronize and assist highly-trained human workers, business tasks get done at a faster clip and with less mistakes. This generally leads to lower production costs and more enjoyable employee experiences.

The Benefits of Intelligent Process Automation

benefits of intelligent process automation
There are three main benefits of intelligent process automation.


We've touched on them briefly already, but let's dive deeper into three specific benefits of intelligent process automation:

1. Improves Organizational Efficiency

Intelligent process automation greatly improves organizational efficiency and productivity. It's not hard to see why...

The more menial tasks your team can hand off to robots or highly-trained, low-wage workers the better. IPA allows companies to focus on core business initiatives, AKA the things that bring in revenue and separates organizations from competitors.

Imagine how much more you'd be able to get done every day of you didn't have to worry about time-sucking activities like lead generation for sales teams, talent prospecting for HR professionals, or data entry tasks for department heads.

2. Reduced Expenses

Contrary to what you might think, intelligent process automation almost always reduces expenses for companies. You might be tempted to believe the opposite is true. After all, new, advanced tech is always expensive, right? Not in this case.

IPA helps to reduce expenses in a few different ways:

  • Cheaper Labor: There are some tasks that simply aren't worth your valuable time, but still need to be accomplished. By delegating these activities to either technology or highly-trained, low-wage workers, you'll be able to get them done at a cost that makes sense for your company, while you focus on bigger, more important things.
  • Less Mistakes: Because IPA uses advanced technology to accomplish many tasks, mistakes are minimized. After all, humans are much more error-prone than computers. But even when a specific business activity is delegated to a living and breathing person via IPA, better accuracy will still be achieved due to the stringent systems in place.
  • Better Focus: Lastly, IPA allows its users to focus more of their time on important, business-building tasks. If you, for example, make $50 an hour, you shouldn't be spending a single minute on data entry jobs that any minimum-wage employee can do. IPA will remove you from these activities so that you can focus on big-picture processes.

3. Better Employee Experiences

Finally, intelligent process automation leads to better employee experiences. Remember what we said about data entry tasks and the like? They're not worthy of your time. They're not worthy of most of your team's time either.

By removing these tasks from their plates they'll be able to focus on more fulfilling work and won't have to suffer through the mind-numbing tasks they hate.

This will obviously lead to a better employee experience, which leads to more inspired work and less team turnover — a growing problem in organizations around the world. Replacing employees is expensive and inconvenient. Better to keep the ones you already have!

What is the Difference Between RPA and Intelligent Automation?

Before we move on to practical applications of intelligent process automation, we first need to clarify the difference between IPA and RPA.

RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation and refers to the automation of standard business processes via the application of technology. For example, many companies use RPA tech everyday in call centers around the world. When you call your cable company to report an outage, you're probably doing so to an automated software system, at least initially.

The difference between RPA and intelligent automation lies in the kinds of tasks each can accomplish. RPA is designed to automate standardized, repetitive activities. Intelligent automation introduces elements of "thinking" to the equation via AI and/or human labor.

An RPA system can't problem solve. It does what it's programmed to do, nothing more. An intelligent automation system can accomplish non-routine tasks because it employs advanced AI technology or a team of highly-trained human workers.

The Bones of Intelligent Automation

intelligent automation (ipa)
The bones of intelligent automation (IPA) consists of four main elements.


So what makes up an intelligent automation system? That's what we'll discuss in this section. Every IPA methodology needs the following four elements:

1. Business Process Management (BPM)

Business process management (BPM) is all about the efficient coordination of people, systems, and data. It's objective is to make sure a businesses' process infrastructure is operating properly at all times. As such, it's a vital element of proper intelligence automation.

In the symphony that is IPA, business process management can be thought of as the conductor, ensuring the entire system runs smoothly and in time for each process lifecycle.

If you're unfamiliar with process lifecycles, they're composed of five parts:

  • Modeling: This stage is where a specific process is planned out. When certain functions happen and who (or what) is in charge of running them needs to be determined.
  • Simulation: During simulation, the planned process is tested before being executed on a wide scale. This allows companies to iron out any unforeseen kinks without risk.
  • Execution: At the execution stage, the process in question is run during real, live situations and all required people and tech are involved. 
  • Monitoring: The monitoring stage refers to the collection of data and overall evaluation process. Oftentimes, BAMs and KPIs are assessed.
  • Optimization: Lastly, the optimization stage is used to take information collected during monitoring and optimize processes for greater future success.

If you're looking to outsource intelligent automation operations to be handled by an outside vendor, BPM becomes BPO, short for business process outsourcing.

We'll talk more about outsourcing in a later section  of this article.

2. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

We've already discussed the differences between RPA vs BPO and IPA. But the fact that it's different doesn't mean it won't factor into your intelligent automation systems. It actually plays a crucial role in a successful IPA methodology.

By capitalizing on technology that reduces the need for human intervention, you'll be able to boost team productivity and efficiency, reduce costs, and provide better employee experiences.

Here's how RPA software systems work:

  1. First, data is sent to the RPA system from numerous sources including other software programs and detailed spreadsheets.
  2. Second, the data is processed based on structured rules and parameters that allow the RPA system to act on the information in positive and predictable ways.

The RPA tech used in your intelligent process automation methodologies could be simple and only used to open and send email, or more complex and be called upon to complete difficult equations or fill out lengthy forms.

Either way, it will be able to complete business tasks faster and more accurately than your current team, while freeing them up to work on more important, business-building tasks.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While RPA technology is used to complete standard, repetitive business processes at scale, artificial intelligence can be used to create systems that "learn" and "think" like humans do.

AI is a broad field that includes:

  • Machine Learning
  • Deep Learning
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Visual Recognition, and
  • Big Data

The use of AI in conjunction with RPA makes intelligent process automation smarter than ever before. It also further reduces the amount of work human beings are required to accomplish. But don't worry, we aren't suggesting that AI will put you out of a job.

Instead, we're saying that AI can help reduce the amount of tedious tasks human workers are asked to perform, thus allowing them to focus on more important, big-picture activities.

4. Integrations

Finally, to get the most out of intelligent process automation, you need all of your systems to integrate seamlessly. That way, each of your processes can run smoothly.

If you're handling IPA in-house, this may prove difficult, depending on the software solutions your company uses. You might find that some tools don't connect well or that setting up said connections requires extensive coding knowledge.

This is another reason why you might consider outsourcing IPA; so you don't have to worry about the intricacies of setting up systems. You just receive deliverables.

Let's talk more about outsourcing...

IPA With Invisible

invisible bpo provider
Invisible is the best way to take advantage of IPA.


If you're not familiar with our organization, Invisible is an automation company whose first product is a digital assistant made to outsource repetitive work using a combination of machine learning and human execution.

What? We'll break it down for you…

Invisible automates processes by combining state of the art technology with highly-trained human workers. Once a user delegates a task to Invisible, it enters what's known internally as the Digital Assembly Line or DAL. The DAL then coordinates human workers to complete menial tasks at scale for affordable prices.

This process gives users the best of both worlds: the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of machines and the problem-solving abilities of humans who actually care about end results.

Invisible can be used to quickly accomplish a large amount of different tasks, detailed in the Process Library. But for the purposes of this article, we'll focus on four specific IPA examples:

1. Sales Process Automation

Work in sales? Then you know, first-hand, the drudgery that is lead prospecting. Don't get us wrong, it's an absolutely vital practice — no leads, no sales. But it's menial and time-consuming work that just isn't very enjoyable.

Sounds like the perfect task for IPA!

Sales reps like you can use Invisible to build huge lists of qualified leads, reach out and follow up with them, and organize CRM data on autopilot.

It's incredibly simple and cost effective and will allow you to focus more of your time on what you were actually hired to do: close deals.

2. HR Business Process Automation

Human Resources professionals are also perfect candidates for the Invisible IPA approach. 

What's one of the most tedious HR tasks you're forced to complete on a regular basis? For many, it's talent prospecting. It can take ages to cull through applications and find qualified candidates worth hiring.

Invisible is happy to take the task off your hands!

Delegate a portion of your recruiting process to our AI-powered team and we'll use your sources and instructions to build the perfect list of candidate prospects. Then, if you want, we'll schedule meetings with each of them. You just have to show up and decide who to hire.

And just like the sales prospecting process outlined above, Invisible for hiring is fast, easy, and affordable.

3. Operations Automation

Maybe you don't need any specific departmental help. Perhaps you just want to take advantage of IPA to complete standard business practices. Things like scheduling meetings, booking travel arrangements, and data entry tasks.

You know, the activities that need to be completed but end up eating away at your entire day and rendering you completely unproductive.

Once again, Invisible is here to help.

Whatever business process you need done, from general back office support duties to hyper-specific researching jobs, Invisible can get it done for you. Focus on the important elements of your job; let Invisible take care of the rest.

4. Insurance Business Process Outsourcing

Invisible has also been used in the Insurance industry with great success. Clients regularly use our IPA system to aid in insurance operations, such as application processing, adjustments, claims, and other departments.

Our work with this client has allowed them to get 100 - 300 extra hours of work done every month for the low, low price of $9 an hour. Imagine getting your menial tasks done for you and paying less than minimum wage for it!

To wrap up everything we've just covered, Invisible is the only outsourcing / RPA alternative that helps SMBs get the custom operations support they need to scale, at a revolutionary price point.

In Conclusion

Intelligent process automation is on the rise. In fact, many believe that it will completely reshape the future. Now that you know exactly what it is, you can jump aboard and get a head start over your competitors.

To get you started with IPA as quickly and conveniently as possible, we suggest partnering with Invisible.

Whether you need help with lead or talent prospecting, organizing insurance applications and claims, or general business practices, Invisible can help at an amazingly affordable rate. To boost your organizations productivity, and for more information on Invisible, get started with a free account here and someone on our sales team with be in touch with you.

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