Why intelligent automation is a better alternative to RPA

May 08, 2019 by Jessica Munday


Robotic process automation (RPA) is not a new term, but in recent years it’s seen a tremendous increase in public interest. Just looking at Google Trends, you can see searches for this topic have quadrupled over the last 5 years, reaching 100 million last year. A new term is now surfacing that’s proving to be a superior RPA alternative: intelligent process automation (IPA).

Robotic Process Automation

Currently, many businesses are starting to depend on RPA for their daily operations. Sixty-six percent of companies plan to fully implement RPA over the next three years, while 18 percent plan to use it selectively. This means at least 84 percent of companies already have RPA on their radar.

Gartner predicts the RPA industry will grow 57 percent in 2019, making it the fastest growing software category by more than double. And while the market is booming, many enterprises don’t realize that most RPA platforms are built with decade-old technology, vastly limited and outdated, which is why intelligent process automation is becoming its successor.



RPA alone has restricted capabilities. It performs one action repeatedly without considering nuances or exceptions. For example, if an RPA system was programmed to sort red and blue balls, it would be unable to react in the case of a yellow ball. It’s only able to perform automations within its predefined process.

RPA automations must have these process programmed. They don’t learn or adapt to different workflows, making it impossible to perform complex, human-like tasks on their own.

However, when you add AI to RPA, the optimization possibilities are endless; this powerful combination is intelligent process automation and a much more capable alternative to RPA.

Intelligent process automation platforms can learn making them flexible in the face of complex processes. IPA’s intelligence and adaptability make it capable of handling complicated, tedious human processes. By giving these robotic processes to the robots, IPA enables employees to be more productive.

The market for intelligent process automation is expected to explode in coming years. Enterprise investment in intelligent process automation and alike technology is expected to reach $232B by 2025, compared to $12.5B today, with large scale adoption expected across several industries.


So what can IPA do?

Eighty-three percent of enterprises are already using an automation platform or plan to implement one into their business processes, according to a survey by OVUM.

Companies across dozens of industries are implementing intelligent process automation with impactful results. A McKinsey study reported companies who are already working with IPA have resulted in:

  • Automation of 50 – 70 percent of tasks
  • Reduction in straight-through process time of 50 to 60 percent
  • Cut of 20 – 30 percent of annual run-rate costs
  • High ROI in the triple-digits for most companies

While the biggest benefit that enterprise leaders focus on is cost savings, there are also several other benefits that come with implementing intelligent process automation, depending on which use cases and which industry your organization is in.