A systematic literature review on intelligent automation: Aligning concepts from theory, practice, and future perspectives

Kam K.H. Ng, Chun Hsien Chen, C. K.M. Lee, Jianxin (Roger) Jiao, Zhi Xin Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


With the recent developments in robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), academics and industrial practitioners are now pursuing robust and adaptive decision making (DM) in real-life engineering applications and automated business workflows and processes to accommodate context awareness, adaptation to environment and customisation. The emerging research via RPA, AI and soft computing offers sophisticated decision analysis methods, data-driven DM and scenario analysis with regard to the consideration of decision choices and provides benefits in numerous engineering applications. The emerging intelligent automation (IA) – the combination of RPA, AI and soft computing – can further transcend traditional DM to achieve unprecedented levels of operational efficiency, decision quality and system reliability. RPA allows an intelligent agent to eliminate operational errors and mimic manual routine decisions, including rule-based, well-structured and repetitive decisions involving enormous data, in a digital system, while AI has the cognitive capabilities to emulate the actions of human behaviour and process unstructured data via machine learning, natural language processing and image processing. Insights from IA drive new opportunities in providing automated DM processes, fault diagnosis, knowledge elicitation and solutions under complex decision environments with the presence of context-aware data, uncertainty and customer preferences. This sophisticated review attempts to deliver the relevant research directions and applications from the selected literature to the readers and address the key contributions of the selected literature, IA's benefits, implementation considerations, challenges and potential IA applications to foster the relevant research development in the domain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101246
JournalAdvanced Engineering Informatics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Adaptive decision making
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Innovative robotic process automation
  • Intelligent automation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence

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