What is intelligent automation? Here are 3 key capabilities

I recently read a quotation from a professional who described intelligent automation (IA) as “a more advanced form of robotic process automation.”

Robotic process automation (RPA) is technology that lets organizations configure software “robots” to automatically perform the highly repetitive, tedious, error-prone tasks that give employees eye-strain headaches and prevent them from doing more strategic work.

So, is this professional’s definition of IA correct?

Well, no. Not really.

Ok, not at all.


It’s easy to understand why, as the internet is full of definitions of intelligent automation that equate IA with AI, or artificial intelligence. And while AI is certainly a part of intelligent automation – which includes robotic process automation – it’s not the only defining factor.

Here’s how Forrester Consulting defined IA in a recent study commissioned by Hyland:

Intelligent automation: Built-in logic, robust workflow, and learning abilities to anticipate user/customer needs and enable smarter processes, equipping the organization to be more productive and efficient.

– “Content at Your Service,” Forrester, March 2019

In fact, intelligent automation goes far beyond RPA and AI to include the smart application of the technology itself. A focus on evaluating the organization and truly applying technologies where they can increase productivity and efficiency is key.

3 key capabilities of intelligent automation

Looking at it through the lens of the specific content services capabilities that provide intelligent automation in key process areas can be a useful way to further define exactly where and how you can use IA to deliver information, reduce costs, improve speed and accuracy, and remove bottlenecks.

Let’s take a quick look at three of the key content services capabilities that could help your organization intelligently automate processes.

1. Intelligent capture

As its name suggests, intelligent capture comes with built-in, human-like smarts based in artificial intelligence. The right intelligent capture solution should provide flexibility and learning capabilities that allow it to process completely new documents with limited human intervention.

In fact, data extraction and capture that uses intelligent automation allows organizations to better serve customers by enabling them to classify, extract, and validate critical incoming information and provide faster, easier access to content to those who need it most.

With that critical information, employees make more-informed decisions to provide better service.

2. Customer communication management

Customer communication management (CCM) lets organizations intelligently automate the workplace with tools that have built-in logic, intelligent routing, and machine-learning functionality. This allows you to serve the right information to customers via their preferred communication methods.

Forrester’s study, mentioned above, uses data to make some important recommendations for organizations around intelligent automation.

Here’s one that speaks directly to CCM: “Customers want consistency in their communications – regardless of delivery channel or format. Look for opportunities to use intelligent automation services to categorize, tag, and summarize content for easier consumption. Use content services to delivery meaningful information via preferred apps and interfaces.”

3. Workflow

This is an important content services capability for organizations large and small. By automating processes that support customer service, workflow improves customer satisfaction – the top digital transformation goal for many modern enterprises.

Workflow can be as minimal as routing of documents for approval. But it’s best when it uses IA functionalities like build-in logic, intelligent routing, and contextual information retrieval.

“Better processes mean faster service and better experiences for customers,” as our ebook states.

Agility and flexibility

If you’re starting to get the idea that intelligent automation is a much larger concept than just one or two specific technologies, you’re on the right track.

Here’s another recommendation from Forrester Consulting’s study to keep you going: “Build a road map that acknowledges the need for agility and flexibility.”

With so much competition, traditional business models are becoming less and less viable by the second. The answer, the study says, is ensuring your organization is making the right technology investments. To set yourself up for success, look for a flexible platform that uses intelligent automation to learn and optimize processes.

Is your enterprise ready to win with content services that feed into your intelligent automation and customer-focused digital transformation strategies?

To learn more, download the full Forrester study.

Beth Politsch

Beth Politsch

Beth Politsch is a content strategist and writer for Hyland. She has been writing about subjects that range from interior design and food science to materials science, technology and software... read more about: Beth Politsch

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