Trying to neatly describe the different kinds of automation in this highly complex world is not easy and our multi award winning SmartFlow solution goes beyond what most automation products can do.
So what kind of automation is SmartFlow?


In this article, SmartFlow is considered against four likely contenders:

Kinds of


  1. Intelligent Automation

  2. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

  3. Business Process Automation (BPA)

  4. Cognitive Automation

Intelligent Automation

This doesn’t have its own Wikipedia entry but is widely defined as the combination of artificial intelligence and automation. Which means, based on the RPA definition below on Wikipedia, it is RPA by another name.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is defined on Wikipedia as ‘an emerging form of business process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.’

It states that in traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language. In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application's graphical user interface (GUI), and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI.

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So, SmartFlow is RPA, but blurs these lines by actually being able to work via the GUI or via APIs, depending on what is available and the best method for interacting with the data/application in question.​


BPA is defined on Wikipedia as ‘the technology-enabled automation of business processes. It is performed to achieve digital transformation or to increase service quality or to improve service delivery or to contain costs. It consists of integrating applications, restructuring labour resources and using software applications throughout the organisation'.

It states that specialist companies are bringing toolsets to market that are purpose-built for the function of BPA. Toolsets vary in sophistication, but there is an increasing trend towards the use of artificial intelligence technologies that can understand natural language and unstructured datasets, interact with human beings, and adapt to new types of problems without human-guided training. BPA providers tend to focus on different industry sectors but their underlying approach tends to be similar, in that they will attempt to provide the shortest route to automation by exploiting the user interface layer, rather than going deeply into the application code or databases sitting behind them.

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So, SmartFlow is definitely BPA, as it fits with this definition as a sophisticated example, it sits as a skin across the top of your existing IT systems and can work with unstructured data, guiding users through

a highly complex process (if required) with minimal training.


Lastly, cognitive automation is defined by Wikipedia as ‘an emerging genus of automation enabled by cognitive computing. Its primary concern is the automation of clerical tasks and workflows that consist of structuring unstructured data’.

It states that cognitive automation relies on multiple disciplines: natural language processing; real-time computing; machine learning algorithms; big data analytics and evidence-based learning. According to Deloitte, cognitive automation enables the replication of human tasks and judgment “at rapid speeds and considerable scale”.

Such tasks include:

  • Document redaction

  • Data extraction and document synthesis / reporting

  • Contract management

  • Natural language search

  • Customer, employee, and stakeholder on-boarding

  • Manual activities and verifications

  • Follow up and email communications

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So, SmartFlow is also cognitive automation as it works alongside humans to replicate human tasks and judgement and can be configured to complete all of the task types listed above.

In summary, SmartFlow is cognitive, intelligent, business, robotic process automation or CIBRPA for short!

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