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While artificial intelligence (AI) has become even more prevalent with the rise of large language models and computer vision capabilities, the question that is often asked is what the difference between these very similar acronyms is.
Firstly, no, they’re not spelling mistakes; but they are related to each other. In this article we debunk some myths and explain these two acronyms on where they are used in the world of automation, and how our business process automation product, IA-Connect, fits in.
IA – Intelligent Automation
Intelligent automation (IA) is not necessarily something that focuses on one “type” of automation, but more a “catch all” broad term that has been in use for decades, and with a worldwide spend that has gone from $5.8 billion in 2016 to $34.2 billion in 2023. Intelligent automation is simply a grouping of one or more automation technologies or skilled automation teams under one banner or tool – including artificial intelligence (AI) – thereby increasing the automation capability.
Often businesses will create and employ automation developers and engineers under the department banner of intelligent automation as a business unit. These teams will then use multiple different technologies in order to achieve their automation goals. These can include, but not limited to…
Runbooks/workflows and/or APIs tend to utilise script-based languages, such as Microsoft PowerShell or BASH, in order to perform a result based on pre-determined scenarios.
Scripting languages are useful for automation scenarios that are referred to as deterministic – whereby what we are automating will always take an expected input and produce a pre-determined output. This could be things such as taking data from one system via an API to another when a new line is created in the first system, or something such as modifying a virtual machine-configuration based on an expected event.
Many applications out there often do not have a way to be automated, from UI-based applications to web-based applications. This is where they are either legacy-based and have no way to be automated, or you simply do not have access to an API. This is a common problem in many businesses, especially where certain technologies are so embedded they cannot easily be replaced or given automation capabilities as an add-on.
However, automation is still possible even in what seems a no-hope scenario, as this is where robotic process automation (RPA) comes in to use. RPA is designed to provide “workers” or “robots” that are pre-programmed to access applications and perform a set task by mimicking how a human would access and use the application itself. This means that automation can be extended in this scenario, and is especially useful where we have repetitive tasks.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also be considered a broad-term in of itself, as this makes up various different subset of capabilities designed to do one thing – determine answers and provide decision making without writing necessarily code or logic in order to achieve this.
In essence, AI is trying to simulate how a human could provide answers when presented with information, where that information takes a variety of forms.
This can range from recognising patterns in a large amount of data and reporting back on these patterns in a human-readable way based on human-based queries (large language models, like ChatGPT) to recognising images and media in a way that a human would (Computer Vision).
IA-Connect, simply put, is an intelligent automation (IA) product because it combines all three of the examples above into one. This then allows our customers to connect their applications together through a wide array of automation capabilities. This means where our customers have legacy applications or applications that cannot be strictly automated, they can still utilise automation, removing those repetitive tasks and alleviate their staff of the mundane without having to reinvent themselves in terms of their systems and applications.
In this article, we’ve talked about while artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation (IA) are very similar to the point where it can look like a spelling error, it’s in fact IA that provides a broad umbrella to automation – including artificial intelligence. With IA-Connect we’re at the automation forefront, giving customers the best possible option of automating their business processes.