9 Types of Automation
John Spacey, updated on March 22, 2021
Information technology comes in two major flavors: automation and user interfaces. Technologies such as information visualization, communication tools and digital media are examples of user interfaces. Automation tools generally fall into one of the following categories:
Process OrchestrationThe automation of business processes by a central controller that invokes process steps in response to events and data.
ChoreographyA process automation technique in which processes react independently to events like dancers reacting to cues from music. Choreography often uses a publish/subscribe model for events whereby an event is published once and all subscribing processes are notified.
WorkflowWorkflow is a common term for the semi-automation of processes that include both human and automated steps. In practice, most business processes involve human tasks and aren't full automated. Workflow engines may use process orchestration, choreography or both. Humans typically interact with the workflow using interfaces that visualize a task with relevant information.
Business RulesRules of automation that are used to direct the flow of processes, validate information or make decisions. Tools such as a business rule management platform may allow business users to configure rules directly. This allows changes to be made on the fly without the need for heavyweight development and change management processes.
Event ProcessingTechnologies that examine streams of data for actionable events. Such events can be used to trigger processes or notifications.
Machine AutomationAutomation that performs physical work such as manufacturing a product.
RoboticsAn type of machine automation that has advanced features such as sensory perception. The term robotics also implies machines that are adaptable and flexible enough to handle a range of tasks.
Decision AlgorithmsCode that makes business relevant decisions such as the decision to execute a financial transaction. The term algorithm implies a level of sophistication that results from a rigorous design process. However, the term is also commonly used as a buzzword in ways that lack concrete meaning.
Artificial IntelligenceArtificial intelligence is a class of software that learns. It is widely used for decision automation and robotics.
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