Very often, when we talk about 4.0 industries, we tend to confuse automation and artificial intelligence. Although they have some aspects in common and work in synergy, they are two very different technologies.
Both technologies are used by companies that are investing in digitization.
Intelligent automation: what it entails
Nowadays, automation is everywhere, not only at the service of large companies, but also in private homes. For instance, automated systems are created to send mail, but also to turn on the lights or the heating of a house using an app on the smartphone.
In practice, automation, or rather Robotic Process Automation, includes the use of software that replicates repetitive activities, saving time, resources and money.
Thanks to automation, many companies can transfer the management of certain processes and activities from human beings to a robotic workforce, accelerating processes and managing them effortlessly, 24 hours a day, without the risk of error.
Artificial intelligence: an extra gear
Unlike automation, artificial intelligence not only allows you to free your company from repetitive and time consuming jobs, but like a human brain, it is able to learn and respond to any unexpected events.
Just like human beings, artificial intelligence creates models and categories to organize the surrounding world and to perform known actions. Similarly, like humans, artificial intelligence grows and improves with experience. The latter process is called machine learning.
The birth of intelligent automation
From the above definitions, it is fairly simple to understand the substantial difference between these technologies. To give a concrete example: Robotic Process Automation does a great job at handling repetitive rule-based tasks that previously would have required human effort, but it is not continuously learning, unlike what happens in machine learning.
If something changes in the automated activity, the automated bot will generally not be able to figure this out on its own and change certain parameters accordingly.
As automation is paired with branches of artificial intelligence, such as natural language processing or computer vision, the possibilities for more effective automation increase.
This convergence is known as “intelligent automation“, a term that refers to a “digital worker”, or the software robot or machine that functions as a human employee. As AI algorithms become more sophisticated, software robots can move from automating specific processes to functioning as fully cognitive business assistants. As such, they can automatically deal with all kinds of repetitive tasks in real time and ultimately free humans from a job that could otherwise be trivial and repetitive.
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