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Definition

intelligent workflow

Intelligent workflow is an orchestration method that integrates analytics, AI, machine learning (ML) and automation to help organizations perform diverse and complex activities more efficiently.

A workflow is a series of activities that are necessary to complete a task. By adding technologies like AI and automation, intelligent workflows increase the visibility, flexibility, agility, value and efficacy of these tasks. These processes are added in an end-to-end approach to essentially remake a workflow.

An intelligent workflow can connect systems or streamline communication channels. Intelligent workflows enable more value by automating normally manual tasks in order to be more efficient. They also help organizations derive more insights and digitize different business processes.

Intelligent workflows can also integrate with hybrid or multi-cloud infrastructures.

Business benefits of intelligent workflows

Businesses will gain advantages to integrating intelligent workflows, including:

  • Decreased operating costs. This can increase ROI by up to 40%-70%, according to IBM.
  • Faster deployments. Emerging technologies used in deployments, such as machine learning, can be implemented quickly to make the deployment of the end product faster.
  • Reduced downtimes. This improves system operability. There is also reduced risk in hardware and software bugs due to mistakes in repetitive tasks when they are automated.
  • Increased speed. Intelligent workflows reduce the time it takes to complete a workflow through the practice of automating normally repetitive or complex tasks. Average processing times can also decrease.
  • Competitiveness. Intelligent workflow automation helps facilitate practices such as digital transformation. It also frees up employees to do other work, increasing productivity, and therefore, competitiveness.
  • Stay agile. Intelligent workflows can be scaled up or down as needed to maintain an expected level of production. Machine learning and analytics software tools help enable this.

Functional benefits

Aside from providing benefits to a business on a larger scale, intelligent workflows also propose benefits for specific areas of an organization. For example, some of the areas to benefit from implementing intelligent workflows and how they can help include:

  • Operations teams. Increase efficiencies in manufacturing, service, quality and delivery of a product.
  • Project management. Increase visibility and control in processes such as resource allocation and tracking, budgeting, risk management and implementation.
  • Marketing teams. Provide AI-enabled marketing This way, an organization can create marketing campaigns that are more dynamic and effective, while being able to shift focus faster based on real-time feedback.
  • Sales teams. Streamline processes that are repetitive and can help create strategies based on forecasts from already collected data using machine learning and AI. Intelligent workflows can also aid in creating more efficient communication processes and protocols.

Industry use cases and examples

Intelligent workflows can work in different industries, such as in healthcare, delivery services, U.S. government agencies or financial systems. As an example, a platform is integrated with healthcare systems to automate checking for patient updates. This increases efficiency in communication between doctors and patients. Similar integrated platforms are used in other organizations to automatically check for hiring potential employees.

Another example includes the management of goods. For example, a delivery service uses a mix of analytics, AI, automation and IoT devices to notify a customer that a delivery is within range of being dropped off. If a delivery truck is within range, an IoT device collects geolocation data and automatically notifies the correct customer that their product is about to arrive. Including intelligent workflow to this system helps mitigate possible disruptions.

In the past, IBM aided a U.S. government agency in integrating intelligent workflows to reduce processing times for claims by a drastic amount. The efficiency gained, according to IBM, reduced the average processing time from 15 days to five minutes.

By remaking or re-organizing certain core processes and supply chains, an intelligent workflow has the potential to exceedingly increase efficiency and visibility.

This was last updated in April 2021

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