In traditional automation, software robots complete repetitive processes based on predefined conditions and rules. In cognitive automation, on the other hand, complex, unstructured data is processed. This is the next step in the age of robotization.
A necessary evolution
Before understanding what cognitive automation is and how it can improve business processes, we must stop for a moment and analyze where we are starting from.
Process automation is an increasingly common formula in companies of all types that helps to alleviate the heaviest part of the work. All those repetitive tasks that do not require analysis and show structured data are the target of RPA. The idea is to free workers from the most tedious part so they can focus on more productive tasks. But what if we could go one step further, if we could make it possible for robots to gain a deeper understanding of the documents and applications they are dealing with?
Well, that is precisely what the next major evolution of process automation enables us to do.
What cognitive automation is
Much of the information that companies process comes from unstructured documents. This means that the extraction of this data cannot be done automatically, but requires an understanding and analysis of the document. Until now, this has required a person to perform this task. Cognitive automation solves this problem.
Thanks to optical character recognition technologies, natural language processing and machine learning, software robots are capable of understanding information as a human would, in order to extract the necessary data for processing. We are talking not only about writing, such as an e-mail, but also about phone calls or videos.
This information extraction is carried out thanks to the training of the artificial intelligence that governs the robot. It does so in a precise and constantly evolving manner (making it more and more efficient).
This will further accelerate the digital transformation of companies. Thanks to the increased processing power of robots, people’s working time continues to be freed up. As a result, this time can be used for better analysis of data for further use.
Unstructured data can be analyzed with cognitive automation. | Photo: Charlotte May.
The advantages of cognitive automation
It is clear that thanks to this advance in the automation of processes, taking them to the next level and allowing a greater penetration of the robot in the daily tasks of the company, a series of advantages are achieved.
The main one can be seen in the decision-making system, which can now be automated based on the data extracted. All this has a direct impact on increasing the efficiency of procedures.
It also enables a more automatic response to possible incidents, as the robot will be able to learn from them and correct them on its own. This means that human supervision is less and less necessary, which again leads to improved efficiency.
Another aspect that can be improved is customer service. Thanks to chatbots that are able to understand what the customer is saying, a series of responses can be automated. For example, in a reservation center, a robot could be capable of handling most cancellation or modification complaints. Only when human involvement is really necessary would control be handed over to a human. This obviously results in better and faster handling of the needs of consumers, who will be served in a similar way as usual.
A further step that entails a number of challenges
Of course, moving forward on the automation path also requires facing different challenges.
The first, and perhaps the most important, is that this type of automation requires a higher degree of customization. Obviously, this customization will depend on the complexity of the process and the technologies needed to support it.
Another aspect that should be emphasized is the search for biases within the artificial intelligence that governs the robot. This problem is inherent to all AI systems and requires a fine-tuning process to return the results in the best possible way.
Finally, the return on investment for cognitive automation takes slightly longer than for traditional automation. This is quickly understood as soon as we analyze the scope of each method. But there is no doubt that, in the long term, the benefits of cognitive automation far outweigh those of traditional automation.
So, as we have seen, the next step in automation technologies is a deeper understanding of information. An improvement in the processing of what a robot is capable of analyzing and greater advantages when it comes to processing and managing all that data. A necessary, unstoppable evolution that many companies can start to benefit from today.