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IPA – what exactly does it mean?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) performed by software robots has become a commonly utilised solution across industries. Today, Digital Workforce’s virtual workers are used in over 50 organisations across the Nordic countries. This means in practice that as the virtual workers take over knowledge work routines human workers’ time is freed up for more value adding work. The next step is to grow the virtual worker’s intelligence and its ability to learn so that it can tackle more complicated assignments.

Jukka Virkkunen and Heikki Länsisyrjä – two of the three Digital Workforce co-founders- sit in a conference room in the company’s Helsinki HQ. Despite busy schedules, time is taken for an important discussion. Today we talk about Intelligent Processes Automation – IPA!

What does IPA really mean?

Jukka: IPA – Intelligent Processes Automation – means maximising business value with the help of processes automation. The job of an IPA-service company is to figure out how far, and with what tools, the client’s processes can be automated in an efficient and high-quality manner.

The automation of a single process may require the use of multiple different technologies: RPA, image recognition, chat bots, machine learning… the list goes on. The term ‘Intelligent Process Automation’ refers to the end goal of applying robotic technologies rather than a specific technology.

Heikki: The form of the solution, and what technologies are applied, depends entirely on the client’s business processes. Within the IPA-repertory, there’s an entire ecosystem of technologies which need to be considered as parts of a bigger picture. By fitting different pieces together it’s possible to tailor just the right solution for any situation.

Why is this worth talking about?

Jukka: As organisations and businesses gain more experience, they also keep developing their ability to recognise opportunities for robotic solutions. Process automation starts by changing information to a digital form, with the second step usually being RPA. In the next phase, the focus shifts to tasks that require a degree of interpretation, which then means the consideration of a selection of smart technologies.

Heikki: Managing knowledge work efficiency is on the management’s agenda because it is the most important factor of our time in terms of productivity – this being true in nearly all industries. Change has been incredibly fast and the amount of routine knowledge work has been increasing. By automating business processes, meaningful gains in productivity have been achieved, and this ability is something most organisations want to develop further.

What is RPA’s position in relation to IPA?

Heikki: RPA is still the best tool for automating repetitive knowledge work. When we talk about IPA, we might just as well talk about smart virtual workers, meaning software robots that have been given smart capabilities depending on process requirements. The virtual worker’s application areas are now even wider, but RPA is still at the center of the execution.

From the client’s perspective, however, it is most convenient that all the required technology for automating a process is delivered as a whole, in a form that is scalable and easy to access. For this, the best solution is a cloud service that integrates different technologies and scales up fast if necessary.


Digital Workforce is currently recruiting new talent to work as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Expert. Do you share our vision for the future? You could be the one we are looking for! Learn more about the job here.

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