According to Forbes, ‘The intelligent process automation market is expected to reach $13.75 billion by 2023.’

The global pandemic has accelerated the shift to digitisation, with companies increasingly realising the importance of handling complex customer queries remotely. However, robotic process automation (RPA), which simply replaces manual rule-based processes and activities with bots, is no longer enough. Intelligent automation – the ‘next generation’ of RPA – offers a solution which can be applied to the full customer journey. 

Enterprise-Wide Process Efficiency: Reduced Costs, Reduced Risk 

Combining the existing RPA technology with natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), intelligent automation can interpret complex, unstructured information without human intervention. This provides a framework to build solutions to solve specific business problems and deliver an improved employee and customer experience.

Research by Gartner states that ‘by 2023, almost all major RPA vendors will offer a broader process automation and integration platform.’ 

As it requires no in-depth understanding of the underlying technology, or specialist training in data science for users, intelligent automation reduces costs and increases process efficiency in a way that RPA alone cannot. 

Intelligent Document Automation: Saving Time, Increasing Compliance  

For businesses with an existing document management system, intelligent document automation systems – such as that offered by our partners at Salesforce can be used to extract, interpret, classify and verify relevant information within documents. Not only is this a demanding and labour-intensive task for humans, but it is essential for regulatory and legal compliance.   

‘Intelligent automation can help companies stay in compliance by automating many routine tasks, dramatically reducing human error and providing a full log of all actions.’ – Jason Cripps, former Head of Intelligent Automation at Zurich Insurance 

Tools such as optical character recognition (OCR) and image detection aid in reducing error, optimising processing speed, and potentially detecting fraud. In highly regulated sectors such as insurance and healthcare, the extracted data can then be fed into an analytics engine to identify areas of potential risk and can be used to automatically generate reports required by regulatory bodies.  

Rise of the Robots: the Next Generation of Intelligent Agents 

Intelligent automation has transformed the customer service landscape. Simple rule-based chatbots, which have limited functionality and can be frustrating to customers, are gradually being replaced by more sophisticated conversational AI models, which can interact, verify identity and execute processes with high accuracy.  

Solutions such as those offered by our partners at Laiye, previously Mindsay, provide additional support for sales staff and generate automated data analysis, which in turn can be used to customise the internal knowledge base. Their chatbot technology offers semantic understanding with up to 95% accuracy, making it suitable for even complex and sensitive customer scenarios such as life insurance. 

In Jason Cripps’ words, ‘Businesses can’t ignore the advancements in intelligent automation, as its uptake by competitors drives higher expectations from customers.’  

While customers undoubtedly value the human touch, it’s clear that they also increasingly accept the benefits of automation: technologies such as chatbots and voice assistants are now widespread, and ‘smart’ technology is built into many household devices. Despite concerns around potential abuse of AI – such as bias or unethical use of data – 69% of customers say they’re open to the use of AI to improve their experiences 

Challenges and Opportunities: Addressing the Skills Gap 

The rapid rise of intelligent automation has led to a corresponding demand for an appropriately skilled workforce. According to the UK government, over 80% of jobs now require digital skills – but employers say the biggest factor holding back growth is the lack of available talent. It’s estimated that the digital skills gap costs the UK economy as much as £63 billion a year in potential GDP. 

According to Gartner, ‘by 2023, attended forms of RPA will evolve into voice, mobile app and/or other user-experience-driven automation.’  

To address this issue, it’s critical for employers to identify the new skills and roles emerging, and to undertake training and reskilling of existing staff so that they can work alongside intelligent automation systems. This frees up those staff to concentrate on the skills that cannot be automated, such as empathy and relationship-building – ensuring higher satisfaction for both customers and employees. 

Here at redk, we approach intelligent automation from a holistic perspective, focusing on people, processes, and business functions as well as technology. Together with our expert partners, we harness the power of AI, machine learning, and RPA to integrate cloud-based omni-channel solutions into your CRM. Get in touch now to find out how we can help you optimise your performance, improve ROI and enhance your customer experience.