Cognitive Automation Explained

Cognitive Automation Explained

Cognitive automation is the use of AI techniques, such as machine learning, cognitive computing, speech recognition and natural language processing to automate business processes that are normally performed by humans. 

Just like robotic process automation (RPA), cognitive automation is a type of business process automation technology that is increasingly being used by various organisations to enhance their workforce performance, productivity and reduce operational costs.

The difference is that while RPA can perform repetitive tasks that have been assigned based on a specific set of rules, cognitive automation is capable of simulating the human thought process in a computerised model in order to automatically learn, discover and make recommendations or predictions. It is therefore able to perform more complex, perceptual, judgment-based, decision-making tasks as well as establish context.

If RPA is rules-based, process-oriented technology that works on the ‘if-then’ principle, then cognitive automation is a knowledge-based technology where the machine is able to define its own rules based on what it has ‘learned’.

However, the lines between the two are now starting to blur as more companies are using a combination of both technologies to dramatically transform their business processes through automation and intelligence. IBM, for example, is using its Watson cognitive technology to drive, manage and improve the company’s RPA offering by applying cognitive analytics to monitor customer, supplier and employee behaviour.

The popularity of cognitive automation is growing rapidly, with IDC stating that cognitive spending was the largest area of AI spending back in 2017 and that still remains the case today. According to IDC’s forecast, cognitive and AI spending will grow to $52.2 billion in 2021, with a large chunk of it going to cognitive applications.

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