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The difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation

As the world of business continues to evolve with new technologies, we look at the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation.
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So far, 2017 has been all about artificial intelligence – but what is intelligent automation? And what is the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation?

From Facebook chatbots and machine learning, lights out production lines, to the rise in robotics and IoT (Internet of Things) enabled supply chains, the maturity of artificial intelligence is creating a wave of excitement – and fear – across business.

However, artificial intelligence cannot be considered in isolation. This is a technology, and it is the way in which this technology is deployed that has the opportunity to be truly transformative.

As such, considering the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation, it is the concept of the latter that is truly the game-changer for businesses in 2017.

A main point of the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation is that while artificial intelligence is about autonomous workers capable of mimicking human cognitive functions, intelligent automation is all about building better workers, both human and digital, by embracing and working alongside intelligent technologies.

Intelligent automation has the potential to free up individuals from mundane tasks, scale up operations and reduce costs – but this is not just about cost reduction and efficiency. It is those organisations that actively redeploy those individuals to drive innovation through intelligent automation that will lead the way.

How can organisations benefit from intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation enables large-scale data analysis and improved productivity. According to IBM, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much that 90 per cent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

Thanks to mobile technology and growing digital infrastructure, today, data and information are everywhere.

For data-driven organisations, this abundance of data is both a blessing and a curse, as there comes a point where a human’s ability to manage large quantities of complex data is no longer viable due to the sheer volume of information.

And that is where artificial intelligence comes in. While intelligent devices such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana are in daily use by millions, in the near future customer service is set to be revolutionised by the arrival of chatbots, self-driving cars are expected to dominate our roads within a decade and the health service will increasingly look to leverage intelligent diagnosis tools.

But that’s where intelligent automation can assist – it enables large-scale data analysis and improved productivity.

With intelligent automation solutions, organisations can amplify their ability to process and analyse information through automation, essentially taking care of the “heavy lifting”.

Rather than straightforward process automation, intelligent automation is capable of understanding just what processes are relevant to the organisation’s operations.

They can make intelligent decisions based on the information available to provide organisations with exactly what they need.

Ideally, for organisations to get the most out of intelligent automation, it should be embedded into a clearly defined processing environment where humans review and approve machine decisions to drive better outcomes.

Intelligent automation is cost effective and highly accurate

With the complexity of today’s digital landscape, large-scale manual analysis and processing is far too slow, inefficient and error-prone. Intelligent software enables consistent, efficient and accurate analysis – something which is impossible for a human operator at a large-scale.

Intelligent automation software is more than capable of handling most routine manual tasks at a large-scale, such as validating a series of processes across a cloud environment or running thousands of data-driven scenarios to ensure accuracy. 

With intelligent automation, once the processes have been refined and validated, organisations can then automate back-end processes, scenarios, data capture, analysis and much more – all unsupervised and while other operations are going on.

Intelligent automation is driving innovation

As the Royal Society’s recently published report Machine learning: The power and promise of computers that learn by example revealed, there is growing understanding of the potential for machine learning to address large-scale societal challenges such as climate change.

Ultimately, beyond the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation, both the technologies continue to infiltrate the workspace.

Therefore, it is vital that organisations not only include both technologies to ensure future success, but also understand how the difference between artificial intelligence and intelligent automation solutions can help them to be more effective overall – and deploy them in the right areas of the organisation.

As we move toward an increasingly digital world, intelligent automation represents an amazing opportunity for organisations to be more responsive towards the demands of the economy. Organisations which adopt intelligent automation solutions now to support their existing staff will be in an excellent position later on!

Ian Smith is finance director and general manager at Invu

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