IDC predicts that by 2020, at least 55% of organizations will be digitally determined, transforming marketing and reimagining the future through new business models and digitally-enabled products and services. Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) platforms are playing a large part in this transformation.

In this article IDC’s Neil Ward-Dutton, VP AI and DX Practices, Europe, answers the essential questions you need answers to before embarking on your project with IPA.

To read Neil’s latest report on the topic, download IDC’s Technology Spotlight: ‘Intelligent Process Automation Unlocking True Digital Transformation’.

1 – What exactly is Intelligent Process Automation?

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) refers to the group of software technologies that individually or collectively manage, automate and integrate business processes in an organization. The main categories of technology that contribute to IPA today are AI, RPA, workflow/BPM and application integration/API management.

The Four Main Elements of Intelligent Process Automation

IDC elements of intelligent process automation

Source: IDC, 2019

2 – If I’m already using RPA and AI, is that enough for digital transformation?

Both RPA and AI (when used to complement RPA) have drawbacks that all spring from one key fact: by themselves, they only make an impact at the level of individual work tasks.

A truly strategic approach to automation – one that reflects the true needs of digital transformation initiatives – needs more; and that’s where Intelligent Process Automation comes in.

3 – Is an IPA platform necessary to drive digital transformation?

Organizations cannot hope to improve their digital transformation maturity beyond a state dominated by islands of innovation unless they invest in a platform that drives orchestration between systems on the outside edge of the organization and those on the inside; links capabilities that are changing quickly to capabilities that are forced to change more slowly; and enables new initiatives to build on old.

IDC’s Maturity Model for Digital Transformation Platforms

IDC maturity model for digital transformation platforms

Source: IDC, 2019

4 – How can an IPA platform assist my organization’s workforce?

A modern IPA Platform can leverage machine learning algorithms to make recommendations to human task workers that help them make decisions (for example, on whether a customer should be eligible for a promotion, or fast-tracking through a process).

Similarly, AI services can be used to build conversational digital customer-support channels that are seamlessly integrated into automated workflows that also enlist human experts, so customer queries that can’t be handled automatically can be addressed by humans – with the resolved queries being automatically fed back to drive further training of the conversational AI.

5 – How can I drive greater value from my IPA platform?

Analyze the ways that an IPA Platform can add value to automation initiatives. Look beyond the immediate value associated with orchestrating the activities of people and automated bots.

Also, explore how an IPA platform can improve end-to-end business process visibility and drive performance and improvement insights; mitigate the risks and manage the errors that can occur with task-level automations; and open up more opportunities to apply AI technologies to improve decision-making accuracy and consistency within processes.

To find out the benefits of using IPA to overcome the limits of task-based approaches and how to take your automation enterprise-wide, download IDC’s Technology Spotlight: ‘Intelligent Process Automation Unlocking True Digital Transformation’