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Beyond RPA | Exploring the Future of Intelligent Automation

Parvathy S. Nair

Apr 12 2023
Beyond RPA - Exploring the Future of Intelligent Automation

With the steady rise of automation since its inception, it has become evident that it is now an integral part of organizations across different industries. During this era of automation, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as a powerful tool for transaction processing, data transfer, and data comparison. RPA is a specific type of automation that involves configuring or interacting with computer software to capture and interpret information, making it a valuable technology for streamlining business processes. In simple terms, RPA enables the capture and interpretation of information through interactions with computer software, facilitating transaction processing, data transfer, and data comparison.

Numerous international marketing research firms like Gartner, for example, have noted the success of RPA and predicted that the RPA software market is projected to continue to experience double-digit growth in 2023.

In the following paragraphs, we will present a forward-looking perspective on the future of RPA by going beyond its current capabilities. As we explore the potential of RPA beyond its current capabilities, it’s important to acknowledge its limitations. With this in mind, we’ll cover its limitations, scope, and what the future of RPA could hold. 

If your organization is looking to stay competitive in the ever-evolving digital transformation landscape, these could be important to consider. 

Limitations of RPA

As mentioned above, RPA has gained significant traction in the realm of automation, but it also has limitations.

Limited Cognitive Abilities Through Rule-Based Automation

RPA bots operate based on predefined rules and lack advanced cognitive skills, such as understanding natural language, reasoning, or making complex decisions. This can hinder their ability to handle unstructured data, adapt to changing scenarios, or perform tasks that require human intuition or creativity. 

Organizations can overcome this limitation by exploring other automation technologies, such as machine learning (ML) or natural language processing (NLP), to augment RPA bots with advanced cognitive capabilities. This can enable RPA bots to understand and process unstructured data, reason, and make complex decisions.

Reliance on Stable Environments

Any changes in the underlying systems or processes may impact the performance of RPA bots, requiring reconfiguration or updates. This can result in additional costs and efforts.

Limited Capabilities With Human Interaction

RPA bots may need to be better suited for tasks that require human interaction, such as handling customer inquiries or negotiating with stakeholders. Organizations must consider solutions that blend RPA with other automation technologies, such as chatbots or virtual assistants, to enable seamless human-bot collaboration and provide a better user experience.

To overcome the limitations of RPA, organizations could explore technologies that enhance cognitive capabilities, implement robust security measures, establish a change management process, and integrate RPA with other automation technologies. 

Related article: A Complete Guide to No-code Development for 2023

RPA vs. Intelligent Automation

CriteriaRPA (Robotic Process Automation)Intelligent Automation (IA)
DefinitionSoftware robots that can automate repetitive, rule-based tasksAdvanced automation technologies that can handle more complex tasks and decision making
ScopeAutomating structured and repetitive tasksAutomating structured, semi-structured, and unstructured tasks
IntelligenceUses pre-programmed rules and workflowsUses AI and machine learning algorithms to learn and improve processes
Decision makingLimited to pre-defined rules and decision treesCan make decisions based on data and logical reasoning
Skill requirementLow coding skills required to implementHigh-level programming skills and domain expertise needed to implement
Implementation speedQuick implementation with out-of-the-box solutionsLonger implementation with customized solutions
ScalabilityCan handle high-volume, repetitive tasks at scaleCan handle complex, high-value tasks at scale
CostRelatively low cost compared to IAHigher cost due to the need for advanced technologies and specialized skills
Impact on workforceMostly affects low-skill, repetitive jobsCan automate higher-skill jobs but can also enhance human productivity
Industry applicationFinance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retailFinance, healthcare, insurance, and other industries with complex processes


In summary, RPA is best suited for automating repetitive, rule-based tasks, while IA is more advanced and can handle complex tasks that require decision-making abilities. IA requires more advanced technology and specialized skills, making it a more expensive solution than RPA. However, IA can also enhance human productivity and automate higher-skill jobs, while RPA mainly affects low-skill, repetitive jobs.

Related article: What is Low-Code Automation? Everything You Need to Know

Why a successful Intelligent Automation Model requires more than just RPA

Organizations can go beyond traditional RPA and explore the future of intelligent automation (or IA) by leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, and cognitive automation. This can enable RPA bots to operate in a more intelligent, adaptable, and secure manner and extend their capabilities to handle more complex tasks, overcome limitations in human interaction, and operate in dynamic environments. 

The difference between Intelligent Automation and RPA

For the sake of clarification, it must be noted that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation are related but distinct concepts in the field of automation. RPA is a subset of automation that focuses on rule-based tasks; Intelligent Automation encompasses a broader range of automation technologies that include RPA but also incorporate advanced cognitive capabilities, such as machine learning and AI. Their differences lie in scope, cognitive abilities, integration with advanced technologies, and general flexibility. 

By combining Robotic Process Automation with IA, organizations can leverage both technologies’ strengths to achieve more sophisticated and comprehensive automation solutions.

The benefits of a hybrid model of Intelligent Automation

As mentioned in our comprehensive post covering the Top 10 Intelligent Automation Trends and Predictions in 2023, you’ll know that it offers many benefits, such as cost savings and improved efficiency. We’d also recommend stopping by our Complete Overview of Intelligent Automation to get a more holistic understanding of the concept. 

To provide a quick summary of some key benefits, the benefits of a hybrid model of Intelligent Automation are not limited to cost savings and improved efficiency. Organizations adopting a hybrid IA approach can also experience enhanced scalability and flexibility in their automation initiatives. Combining different automation technologies like RPA, AI, and ML allows for greater adaptability to changing business requirements and processes. This flexibility enables organizations to scale their automation efforts across different departments, functions, or business units and easily accommodate changes in their operations or technology landscape.

Another benefit of a hybrid IA model is the potential for increased accuracy and quality in business processes. While RPA is excellent for automating repetitive tasks with predefined rules, AI and ML can provide advanced data analysis, decision-making, and predictive analytics capabilities.

Related article: BPM vs. Workflow Automation | Which is Best for Your Business?

How Intelligent Automation will change the job market

IA s rapidly transforming the job market landscape, reshaping the way businesses operate and the skills required by the workforce! With RPA, AI, and ML integration, IA is revolutionizing traditional work models, creating new opportunities, and driving significant changes in various industries.

Wrapping Up

As IA continues to gain momentum, it is clear that it will significantly impact the job market in the coming years. While it may disrupt certain job roles, it also presents new opportunities for skilled professionals to leverage the potential of IA technologies and contribute to the future of work.

IA offers a plethora of advantages that are both diverse and multifaceted. By automating repetitive tasks, reducing errors, and optimizing data processing, IA empowers organizations to achieve heightened efficiency and accuracy in their operations. Furthermore, IA enhances scalability and flexibility, enabling organizations to adapt to evolving business requirements and processes. Moreover, IA fuels innovation by leveraging the power of AI and ML, providing data-driven insights and predictive analytics that can unlock new business opportunities and competitive advantages.

Autonom8 and its contributions to the future of IA

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The importance of preparing for the future of automation

Preparing for the future of automation is crucial for organizations to stay ahead in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. As automation technologies continue to advance, organizations must proactively adapt to harness their full potential. This includes identifying areas where automation can optimize operations, reskilling and upskilling the workforce to embrace automation, and redefining job roles to align with the changing nature of work. Organizations that are prepared for the future of automation can gain a competitive edge, drive innovation, and achieve higher efficiency and productivity while ensuring a smooth transition for their workforce into the era of automation!

FAQs on RPA vs. IA

What is intelligent automation?

Simply put, Intelligent automation (IA) refers to integrating robotics with multiple components from different emerging technologies.

What is the difference between RPA and intelligent automation?

RPA is a specific type of automation that involves the use of software robots to automate tasks, while intelligent automation is a broader term that refers to the use of technology, including RPA, to automate tasks.

What types of tasks can RPA automate vs intelligent automation?

RPA can automate structured and repetitive tasks, while IA can handle structured, semi-structured, and unstructured tasks.

Can RPA and intelligent automation be used together?

Yes, RPA and intelligent automation can be used together to achieve even greater automation capabilities.

How do RPA and intelligent automation impact the workforce?

RPA mostly affects low-skill, repetitive jobs, while intelligent automation can automate higher-skill jobs and enhance human productivity.