28 Jan, 2019· read

Intelligent Automation - think about it

Think About It

In the minefield of hype and bluster about all things artificially intelligent, robotic and generally threatening to the human species, an explanation I found recently described Intelligent Automation as ‘thinking’. It was as simple as that!

But it only resonated when compared to another solution grabbing the headlines; robotic process automation (RPA), which was described as ‘doing’. So that made things clearer still: Automation can be ‘Doing’ or ‘Thinking’ (or a combination of both), which is what businesses do all the time; we do stuff and we think about things and together those combine to deliver great services, create products, solve problems etc.

How does business 'think'?

When businesses do the same thing again and again, we tend to put a process around it and measure it until we can do it faster and cheaper than ever before. The era of Automation now means that software robots can handle these processes just as effectively as humans, but also faster and more consistently.

Thinking is generally required when the doing gets complicated. When the business task needs some level of expertise, either to do something more complex which needs knowledge and expertise, or to tackle challenges and problems in the fastest and best way possible, so that the simple doing can continue.

Putting thought into action

For example, when making an investment, a bank will consider all sorts of parameters before deciding where to place their bets, including risk, regulation, return, exchange rates, mood, sentiment….. a complex and dynamic thought process. For a simple order process in retail, the customer picks an item online for the right price, availability and delivery slot; the order is placed and the customer waits for the parcel to come through letter box (or get left behind the bins). The thinking is required by the retailer if this is one of 200 hundred customers, in the same postcode and there’s a limited delivery slot, or the customer asked to pay on credit and their credit score isn’t great, or there’s limited stock available. There are countless examples of intelligent thinking making the difference to an underlying business process.

Intelligent thinking

Coming up with consistently the best answer to these challenges means knowing what questions to ask, of which sources, with what level of confidence, and what balance of judgement, and relies heavily on Intelligence. Intelligence by definition is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. To automate Intelligence, we need a way of acquiring those skills and putting them to work.


The best of human and machine intelligence

So, having applied some of my own rational thinking, my conclusion is that Intelligent Automation isn’t a product, or a solution, or application: its an approach or method; taking the best nuggets of knowledge, skill, insight and brain-power for the complex problem your business is trying to solve.

The mix of brain-power that you point at business tasks or challenges, like….

  • Should we approve this personal loan request?
  • What happens if the equipment breaks down on this production line?
  • What’s the best level of risk for this type of insurance policy?
  • Is this a valid application for planning permission?

…can come from a number of sources. The critical success factor is finding the right balance between smart humans and smart machines. We know that machine learning and AI services can deliver incredible insight from data at a volume and speed which humans could never replicate. We also know that humans have powers of judgement and reasoning based on a breadth of experience that data could never replicate. 

The right approach fully integrates the knowledge of experts with the power of AI in a single, combined, automated action.

So think about it!

How could Intelligent Automation solve the every day challenges in your business, with an approach that puts Intelligence at the heart of everything you do?

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