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Getting to Know IPA - Intelligent Process Automation

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Cognitive capabilities and advanced intelligence will achieve new levels of automation in document processing

Arvind Jagannath, 
Director of Product Management

Over the course of 2019, we’ve made significant process in automating document processing in the mortgage industry, but there is still more room for improvement. As we look to 2020, what new advancements in technology will help us to further improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase loan processing volume? One technology to keep an eye on, and get familiar with, is intelligent process automation, or IPA.

Getting to Know IPA

So, what exactly is IPA? The website Digital Workforce defines it as “the practice of process automation with solutions that involve smart attributes. IPA solutions are tailored to the specific requirements of the target process by combining technologies like chat bots, computer vision, machine learning and robotic process automation software.” We have covered robotic process automation (RPA) in other blogs, including our recent post on next-gen RPA. IPA is the next frontier of automation and RPA, adding cognitive capabilities and intelligence.

How Does RPA Compare to IPA?

When looking at the difference between RPA and IPA, it is important first to understand the concepts of structured data and unstructured data and how they are different. According to Datamation, structured data comprises clearly defined data types whose pattern makes them easily searchable, while unstructured data is made up of data that is usually not as easily searchable, including formats like audio, video and social media postings as well as text, images and documents. Unstructured data is much more difficult to collect, process and analyze. Knowing this, here are some key features and benefits of IPA, and how it differs from RPA.

Key Features of IPA

  • Understands Unstructured Data – RPA is good for structured data, where no judgement is required, but reaches its limits when unstructured data is involved. According to a 2019 Industry Watch survey by AIIM (In this report: Using Intelligent Automation to Save Time, Money and Effort), 70% of respondents indicated that “unstructured information is the Achilles’ Heel for many RPA implementations.” However, IPA has cognitive capabilities and intelligence that understands text, images, documents and other unstructured data, allowing organizations to automate more processes, thereby improving overall productivity and efficiency.
  • Provides High Transparency (for compliance) – With IPA, you have the full explainability of AI processes, which helps with compliance efforts. This is especially important in highly regulated industries like finance, banking and mortgages. 
  • Helps Unite Technical and Business Teams – IPA allows data science teams and lines of business leads (who know the business processes being automated) to collaborate better. How does this work? With IPA, business leaders get the right technical information and content (in a manner that they can understand) and technical users get the right business process information (in a manner that they understand).

Why IPA is Important to the Mortgage/Lending Business

The characteristics listed above allow IPA to deliver higher levels of automation in the processing of mortgage documents. Building upon what we have already accomplished using RPA, IPA will enable the automated processing of a much wider range of mortgage documents. This is very helpful since the average loan requires approximately 300 different types of documents. This enhanced automation will help improve the overall speed of manufacturing a loan and will allow more people to avoid doing manual “stare and compare” tasks. In turn, this will free up their time to do more customer-facing, value-added work that can help build the business.

So, in 2020, look for IPA to become a more mainstream technology in mortgage processing and other industries. Its combination of machine learning, computer vision and RPA make it a powerful tool that can take automated document processing to the next level.

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