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February 8, 2024
13 min

RPA vs. Intelligent Automation — Rules Against Learning

February 8, 2024
13 min
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For a logistics company, the top issue they faced was whether they should go with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for its accuracy and data-centric repetitive tasks or for Intelligent Automation (IA) due to its adaptive decision-making factors. RPA gives the best results in invoice processing in which the structured data are involved precisely. Meanwhile, IA people noticed that RPA may not be suitable for handling more complex scenarios—changing the shipping routes in real-time with the weather and traffic with few price changes—that are formations coming and going every minute. The turning point came when a supply chain disruption occurred, which delayed the process by a few hours. RPA delivers it, but it cannot respond to the quickly changing dynamics of the supply chain. At that point, the people realized there should be a way to integrate RPA with IA. DATAFOREST will do the same, you just need to book a call.

IA and RPA’s adoption

IA and RPA’s adoption

Understanding Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Let us start with definitions to compare and contrast RPA vs. Intelligent Automation. RPA technology allows businesses to automate processes using software robots (bots) or artificial intelligence (AI) workers. This means repetitive tasks can be made up to 20 times faster than humans via a virtual robot or workforce. If you work in a bank, an RPA bot can handle your loan application by extracting data from various forms like loan agreements or earnings documents and then inputting this data into your bank for processing your loan application. It simply works configurable and is rules-based; structured data and structured rules create a consistent approach and output.

Back Office Automation

The client faced the challenge of upgrading their legacy manual and offline processes to new digital and emerging technologies and wanted to change the way suppliers, customers, and contractors interact with each other and improve their delivery process. The solution we implemented was a tailor-made web application that digitized the entire business process - CRM, warehouse management, and product delivery tracking.
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Aleksandr Kharin

CEO Biolevox, Medical Product Distributor
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They immediately understood needs and expectations and assembled an excellent team to ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget. They remain very flexible and responsive.

The benefit of RPA is that it can span multiple applications and systems and generally has little or no IT change, meaning it is low-cost and quick to resolve issues or improve your business processes if we consider the concept of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

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Comparing Robotic Process Automation vs. Intelligent Automation

Let's remember how both differ from RPA vs. Intelligent Automation's viewpoint. RPA is a "Do as you think" rule-based engine that doesn't learn over time and gives us less scope to play around with rules or different system environments. On the other hand, IA will learn and keep improving the recommendations as and when it keeps on learning the behavior patterns, which in turn will effectively have many solutions to business challenges and can be offered to businesses. Then, there is a vast difference in implementation, too, if we talk about the paradigm of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

The Scope of Automation Robots

When discussing the scope of the different robot types in an automation technology like RPA vs. Intelligent Automation, we must understand that each type has its own definition based on its capabilities and usages.

RPA Robots

They interact with software applications like a human does by following a set of predefined rules. These robots are capable of tasks like data entry, form filling, and many other tasks with repetitive nature. They are in structured, rule-based processes that do not require any subjective decision-making. Simply put, RPA robots are excellent at mimicking human actions and doing what humans do. An example from everyday life can be in a finance department, where a robot could be programmed to read an invoice, extract the invoice number, access the supplier's website, download the latest available price per unit, enter that figure into the invoice, calculate the new invoice amount, enter the amount into a ledger, or raise a cheque, enter the amount into each supplier's individual software record, and then send a remittance advice email to each sending a cheque. This is the first part of the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

IA Robots

When using IA robots, you use an RPA, but the robot also extends into using aspects of artificial intelligence (machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision). Whereas a traditional robot doing basic RPA steps would follow the process with unstructured data, AI robots understand language, understand data in the same format every time, learn from past decisions, and make judgment-based decisions. IA comes with machine learning concepts that it learns from data, and as new patterns in the data it works with evolve, so does the code and how it works, making the machine learn over time with repeat use. What falls within the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA. IA robot might be customer service related, but the robot could understand an email or example over my shoulder or chat to support.


The purpose of creating this AI system was to assist human beings in specific tasks or help them enhance some of their capabilities, and this should be considered in light of the simplified comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA. Metaphorically, from a perspective of the concept of this word, it is similar to a copilot's duty to help the pilot control and steer the plane toward the right destination.

  1. An AI assistant in computer science will produce code with suggestions and complete lines of code for you or even automatically fix code relating to your current coding. The AI buddy will grasp other code and can help you straight away.
  2. In medical care or financial situations, AI sidekicks will examine a tremendous amount of data and share instructions, observations, or anxieties with the professional handling the problem.
  3. In driverless cars, self-driving cars, partially self-driving cars, or any type of driverless cars, a computerized copilot aids in driving and supervises safety, and the car sometimes takes over the wheel. Currently, Automated technology is installed into certain cars and trucks available on the market.
  4. The most helpful thing you could think of for anyone in school would be an AI copilot. It would be customizable to show you stuff to help you study for tests. It could keep up with everyone and have other ways to teach it, not just one way for all people.
  5. The AI copilot is in customer service: you get real-time information, solution suggestions for customer problems, and chat directly with the customer through chatbots.

While RPA provides the framework for automating routine tasks, adding AI (as an AI copilot) extends its capabilities if we consider the concept of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

Differentiating the Automation Capabilities — RPA vs. Intelligent Automation

The main differences between them, in brief, are the following: RPA is rule-based, and you need to give it a lot of directions. Hence, it is less flexible. IA is more dynamic and has a significant influence on automation. IA adds human reasoning and judgment on top of cognition, analytics, integration, and acting toward higher-quality business operations.

Robotic Process Automation

You could think of RPA as automating the boring, repetitive jobs that don't require much brain power or decision-making. This is a relatively simple explanation, but it fits into the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

Structured tasks are usually things such as data entry, taking routine information and filling in forms, generating routine reports, and responding to customer requests such as change in address or product inquiry. There are set rules and patterns that, once you understand, you can be successful.

RPA cannot quite understand things like natural language processing (NLP) and hence have no way with "messy" data inherent in everyday work. They cannot learn from previous experience nor apply knowledge to new unseen situations as they work on the "if-then" predefined conditions. They can't make decisions based on unclear information.

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Intelligent Automation

Intelligent automation includes digital software's capability to link RPA vs Intelligent Automation. RPA builds automation by bringing two kinds of software together as a "robot" with a workforce to carry out a task just like a human.

In addition to the prediction, IA also deals with complex tasks and makes decisions based on incomplete information or unclear rules. It can undertake processes that require unstructured decision-making.

Bots that can provide outstanding customer service through interacting with humans using (1) natural language, (2) advanced predictive analytics systems for banking, and (3) systems that can broadly support clinical diagnoses.

The scope of IA is vast as it can capture knowledge and dynamically adapt and improve its offering to the business and changing process requirements. RPA may be suitable for the automation of simple, repetitive tasks, but for tasks that require any level of guesswork, RPA fails. IA would be required in these situations if we talk about the paradigm of intelligent automation vs. RPA. Schedule a call to complement reality with a profitable solution.

Skillset Showdown: RPA vs. Intelligent Automation

Picture a world in which all the citizens are dominated by repetitive work. The RPA is their very close friend who is perfect with their tasks, and they are great at specifics. It could be the best artisan that can take a single thing through and start to finish without much of a stretch.

Those who approached RPA did not need to be proficient in technology; they just had to know how to programmatically set the steps and recognize the process that could be automatable to RPA.

A unique innovation, IA, has dramatically expanded the automation landscape. IA is an intelligent assistant that performs tasks and learns and improves over time. It works on decisions and problems that are more complicated where broad information is available but insights are hidden. IA transforms raw data into useful information because of two things: machine learning and data analysis.

To communicate with the robots, the people were required to have multi-faceted expertise in coding—mainly coding for advanced computer programming. They also needed to learn practice and study of processing information and how to apply concepts from these practices, technology, and computers to create systems that can perform computational tasks that require the possession and manipulation of complex data in the work environment; it falls within the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

The Early Investment in RPA vs. Intelligent Automation

In most instances, the initial overhead cost is more economically feasible when you deal with RPA vs. Intelligent Automation.

Simply reach out into the vast, bottomless expanse of metallic objects lined up gloriously on a white shelf, several rows tall. Almost gleefully select a rusted, rather sharp piece of steel from many available options. Evaluate its meter in length and assure yourself that it has a comfortable, generally reasonable weight and that it allows your hand to achieve the grip you perceive as perfect. It is produced to have basic, rule-based jobs, like a kind of digital worker, a small step above an automaton, that is really good at doing all the things you would like it to do without needing more than a minute and 45 seconds of training to get it up to speed. In the end, all you have to do to be able to run a robot as your personal assistant is to buy the RPA software and do some basic setup. The sole motive is to figure out how things are already done and what precisely the RPA software has to do with the same task. This can often be an individual or small team of experts that you might need to contract with to facilitate these evaluations at a feasible rate early in the game. The expenses of preparing are moderately low as well. Your team can figure out how to use RPAs easily because the tools are accessible.

Due to the conception of RPA vs. Intelligent Automation IA, productivity is concerned with more than getting things done. It involves taking in data, making choices, and growing over time. The investment needed at the beginning is usually more than usual. You often have to use things like AI and machine learning, which are expensive and complicated. It is very complex and has many high-level gears and components that must be set up correctly to get the desired result. Such combinations could be combining AI algorithms such as regression with AI models such as a decision tree and using ML and a whole bunch of other data to learn about a system even when we can't easily see the results. Due to the sophisticated nature of IA systems, you will likely need more extensive training for your team to operate the software correctly, which will cause the initial investment price to rise. This should be considered considering the simplified comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

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Data Handling: RPA vs. Intelligent Automation

The processing of structured and unstructured data by RPA vs. Intelligent Automation differs in that they handle them separately, with each having its pros and cons.

Automation Type Structured Data Unstructured Data
RPA Excellent at routine processing and manipulation Limited in handling, struggles with interpretation and complexity
IA Effective processing plus analysis and predictions Highly capable, excels in interpretation and analysis

Impact on Infrastructure: RPA vs. Intelligent Automation

RPA vs. Intelligent Automation impacts your IT landscape but has different means of doing so.

  • RPA is just an automation tool. It just requires some configurations within some significant areas like business rules and any kind of structured or semi-structured data that is manipulative if we consider the concept of intelligent automation vs. RPA.
  • No need for significant changes, remodeling, or starting from scratch like you would with most technologies. RPA allows you to make adjustments to what you already have.
  • Robotic Process Automation enables integration with existing applications and achieves a better outcome.
  • Implementing RPA is relatively simple. All it entails is adding new software, which will integrate with the software you are currently utilizing.

Intelligent automation requires a substantial potential infrastructure modification that fits into the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

  • IA is a groundbreaker in your IT configuration; however, similarly as with different advancements, for example, enormous information, it's not the brilliant utensil it is by all accounts in all the build-up right now.
  • IA, and AI as a rule, could be an essential asset, yet it should be coordinated into your frameworks at a profound level to get its full advantage.
  • Machine learning that goes into all these new patterns is precious. Unless you genuinely find a way to be coordinated, you're just scratching the surface of what you could utilize the ML for.
  • To undertake AI, you must change current software or possibly the hardware entirely, draft new tech, or introduce systems to handle the data and information the AI requires.

Implementing IA is more complex than implementing RPA. It's like putting in a new tool and fusing ludicrously clever technology into the inner beats of your IT systems. It gets tricky because the technology is complex, and you need experts to handle it if we talk about the paradigm of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

Deciding Between RPA and Intelligent Automation

Using the example, let's illustrate the choice between RPA vs. Intelligent Automation.

The organization must enter many accounts, open and deal with transactions, and generate reports based on specific criteria. It is a good candidate for implementing RPA due to the volume of repetition and rules-based tasks. RPA bots perform data entry of account opening transactions with high accuracy and speed and process transactions based on the validating criteria. They generate the same outputs and reports as before without new IT work. The time to process the transactions will be decreased significantly as the time for data entry of many account opening transactions.

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Due to the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA and the situation the company is facing, they are looking to improve on customer services and offer more personalized options for their customers. They have a vast amount of customer data they can go through to understand the type of customers, how they behave, and what their preferences are. After analyzing the situation, the company introduced Intelligent Automation and used AI and machine learning algorithms. So, they improve customer experience through personal services, raising decision-making in credit scoring, and getting a deeper understanding of customer behavior, which leads to better business decisions if we consider the concept of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

Implementing RPA resulted in an immediate payback from efficiency improvements and cost reductions. They then deployed IA for things like more complex, data-driven decisions and obtaining a degree of customer insight. IA proved its strategic value much more in learning from data and making better decisions due to the RPA vs. Intelligent Automation comparison.

Cost and Implementation in RPA vs. Intelligent Automation Paradigm

Considerations in deciding RPA vs. Intelligent Automation should be cost-effective and implemented. RPA usually offers lower upfront costs and is probably easier to implement, which means it is the way to go for routine tasks that need to be automated without significant IT infrastructure changes. IA, if we talk about the paradigm of intelligent automation vs. RPA, calls for higher upfront investments and more complex integration as it involves advanced IT infrastructure and more skilled resources to implement it as it requires a lot of AI and machine learning technology. IA needs a higher initial cost but, in turn, also gives a higher value as it can do more complex tasks, analyze data, and, even better, adapt to changes; it fits into the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

Navigating the Shift from RPA to IA

If you decide whether to go with RPA vs. Intelligent Automation, workforce and skill fit will significantly impact. RPA generally requires fewer specialized workforce skills geared toward automating high volume repeatable simple to moderate complexity tasks and may result in workforce re-allocation instead of re-training. IA, however, needs more advanced technical skills, including things such as AI, machine learning, and data analytics, some of which may be acquired through significant training, and it falls within the comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA.

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Intelligent Process Automation Across Key Industries

Such cases can be considered in light of the simplified comparison of intelligent automation vs. RPA:

  • IPA takes care of the tedious work regarding healthcare, like paperwork and records and stuff, so that everything goes smoothly and patients get better faster due to the concept of intelligent process automation vs. RPA.
  • In banking and finance, IPA can assist with loan underwriting, anti-money laundering, know-your-customer due diligence, and risk analysis while providing customer support and services. This allows operations to proceed faster and with a higher degree of accuracy.
  • IPA has the necessary tools to help significantly in the retail industry. It makes personalized suggestions, manages inventory, and also assists in optimizing supply chains. By doing all of these things, it can enrich the customer's shopping experience and increase sales. It fits into the comparison of intelligent process automation vs. RPA.
  • Using IPA software in the insurance industry can cut processing claims and handling times to mere minutes and counseling hours. Using IPA software can enhance customer service by being a friendly learning device. The more you use it, the better the service gets. And it suits the paradigm of intelligent process automation vs. RPA.
  • Regarding manufacturing, IPA can lead to cost reductions and increased productivity by streamlining supply chain operations, managing inventory, optimizing logistics, and even predicting when maintenance will be required.

A unique business and enterprise requirement and governance can also be considered in intelligent automation vs. RPA.

RPA Adoption and Investment Rate Trend

RPA Adoption and Investment Rate Trend

The Unity of RPA and Intelligent Automation?

Comparing RPA vs. Intelligent Automation is comparing apples to apples; they are different points on the spectrum of automation technologies, each with strengths and use cases. However, they are connected by DATAFOREST, which uses RPA to remove the initial work of the data. Then, IA takes over, applying more advanced techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing in the analysis and interpretation of data. RPA removes the initial work, but IA uses artificial intelligence to interpret information. How does this work in the business? Please fill out the form, and we will answer this question together.


Can RPA and Intelligent Automation coexist in an organization's automation strategy?

Like a power duo, RPA and Intelligent Automation can coexist in an organization's automation strategy. RPA handles the routine, structured tasks efficiently, while IA steps in for complex, data-driven decision-making, complementing each other to create a comprehensive automation ecosystem. It's the basis of intelligent process automation vs RPA.

Which is more cost-effective: RPA or Intelligent Automation?

RPA is more cost-effective in the short term, as it's easier to implement for routine tasks and requires less specialized knowledge. However, while initially more expensive and complex, Intelligent Automation can offer more excellent long-term value through its advanced analytics and adaptive learning capabilities. The intelligent process automation vs RPA comparison illustrates it.

Can RPA and Intelligent Automation be applied across different industries?

Intelligent Automation and RPA are versatile and can be applied across various industries—from finance and healthcare to retail and manufacturing. Their adaptability allows them to automate various processes, streamline operations, and enhance data-driven decisions in diverse business contexts. It falls within the comparison of intelligent process automation vs RPA.

Can RPA and Intelligent Automation be integrated with existing systems?

RPA and Intelligent Automation can be integrated with existing systems; RPA is particularly adept at adapting to current infrastructures with minimal disruption. While requiring more intricate integration, intelligent automation can significantly enhance system capabilities by adding layers of advanced data processing and decision-making if we talk about the paradigm of intelligent process automation vs RPA.

What are the main postulates of the intelligent process automation vs. RPA concept?

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) combines Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, aiming to manage, automate, and integrate digital processes. While RPA focuses on automating routine, rule-based tasks, IPA integrates AI elements like machine learning, natural language processing, and data analytics to handle complex, non-routine tasks and decision-making processes. The simplified comparison of intelligent and robotic process automation should be considered.

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