By Peter Walker, CTO EMEA at Blue Prism
The global finance sector is continually undergoing innovation to cater for ever-changing customer demands, new disruptive market entrants and continued waves of increased regulatory and security challenges. The pandemic is also driving further accelerated change across this sector that’s now operating with increasingly constrained and distributed work resources too.
These challenges must be overcome even though many organisations possess operating environments of complex, disjointed, difficult to modify legacy systems, disparate data, and manual workflows. Old operating models are therefore swiftly being discarded and replaced by a radical re-thinking of how front to back office knowledge work is performed to fulfill the fluid demand surges of business operations – and at the unprecedented pace required. Those that fail to action this fast, will rapidly become slow or no-growth organisations.
Digitally transforming work across the financial sector
Any solutions that can make the finance sector work smarter, faster, more efficiently, cohesively and with less, now top the corporate change agenda. Just like the robotics revolution in manufacturing that increased productivity in the 20th century by some 50 fold, the same automation revolution is occurring across white-collar jobs – especially across the global finance sector. It will change every aspect of the way work is performed, the types of services offered, and the way technology is consumed too.
Increasingly delivering all these capabilities across the operations of over 50 percent of the world’s largest banks, is our intelligent automation technology running a smart Digital Workforce of software robots. This is a Digital Workforce that can unify people, technologies and processes that gets the best out of all, to digitally transform the way work is done.
In a recent 2020 ‘future of work’ survey looking at how organisations around the globe are using Digital Workers to stay resilient, positive and competitive in this new economic reality, 95% of business decision makers in the financial services industry revealed they already have plans in place to extend the use of automation across their businesses.
We’re talking about Digital Workers run by business operations – supported by IT teams, that are securely performing all work ill-suited to people across front, middle and back offices, and crucially, up to 150 times faster – and crucially with zero errors. This work may include routine tasks dealing with large amounts of sensitive information adhering to strict processes, or work that humans struggle with such as spotting money laundering or reducing cybercrime with payment clearing checks.
Digital Workers are increasingly automating more complex work too by ingesting, processing, and understanding semi-structured and unstructured data from any document or source – while providing quality checks, detecting errors and passing exceptions to humans.
This means instead of performing soul-destroying navigation between functions, systems and processes as ‘human middleware’, which is the silent killer of performance, responsibility and effectiveness, people are freed to employ their innate skills to manage higher value, more strategic activities. We’re talking about analysing and interpreting data that Digital Workers can’t understand, making critical judgements, applying this business intelligence to continually optimise or reinvent processes, spending more time with customers, improving their experiences, thinking, problem solving, innovating.
To deliver results fast, non-technical business people collaboratively design, draw, and publish a process that Digital Workers then automate – making use of any tools and third-party technologies as it needs. People centrally share improve and re-use these automated assets – any time, any where – as a single, highly productive, unified team, to compound incredible business value.
Crucially, in these highly regulated and secure environments, all Digital Worker activities can be done totally safely, compliantly and transparently by non-technical people, without the need for changing existing systems or performing any costly IT integration effort that prevents operational agility.
Digital work in action
In response to the pandemic, Digital Workers are operating harmoniously with people to enable financial services organisations create new loan processing and mortgage repayments products, and services in just days, to deliver work that’s helping save jobs. For example, investment management firm T. Rowe Price has used Digital Workers to process tens of thousands of monthly transactions and also help with CARES Act withdrawals, to support the high COVID withdrawal volumes and meet over 400,000 participants’ needs.
The ability to respond and automate at this hyper-level made a real difference to people’s lives at First Home Bank – saving around 85,000 jobs and $770 million (US) in loans secured, with 99 percent of loans being processed on the day of application. Digital Workers are also automating upstream and downstream activities like application validation and loan closures, and will be automating the loan forgiveness process too.
Leeds Building Society increased its deployment of Digital Workers to cope with the high demand for mortgage holidays requests that now exceed 2,000 a day. This is reducing call centre calls by 75% and providing answers to most of these requests within 21 seconds. This also allows front-line colleagues to focus on quickly resolving issues, delivering better customer experiences and enabling back-office processing teams to work on other priorities for the business.
The future of automation in the sector
The global finance sector performs a vital role in the economy, so it will be key in the recovery from the pandemic. But the pandemic also provides an impetus for organisations in to transform their operations. In fact, intelligent automation is already playing a key role in driving real change across this sector by enabling organisations to work collaboratively and achieve much more – faster and more efficiently. By also enabling organisations to stay resilient, responsive, innovative, and competitive, to create sustainable value – will also ensure that they thrive in this brave new world.