Banks, insurers, pension funds and other financial services organizations are among the early adopters of RPA. They’ve upped the speed and accuracy of many routine operations previously performed by employees.  And achieved significant productivity and efficiency gains. Few of them, however, are tapping the full potential of this emerging technology.

Increasingly sophisticated RPA systems are capable of more than just mundane and repetitive tasks. Scalable and easily integrated, RPA solutions can now be rolled out across the organization, raising the efficiency of all aspects of the business. Their growing ability to understand and learn from the actions they perform enables them to address highly complex activities.  And continually improve their effectiveness.

New-generation RPA applications don’t just focus on automation. They also deliver information and guidance to knowledge workers. They augment the skills and experience of the workforce.

This offers enormous benefits for financial services companies. Workers throughout the organization can make faster and better informed decisions. Executives, freed from a lot of mundane decision-making, can focus on more complex and strategic thinking. The potential of this technology to enhance the performance of human capital is staggering.

Yet, many financial services firms are delaying the deployment of RPA applications. Or still limiting them to back-office functions.

Why are they hanging back? The reasons are varied. But here are some of them:

Failure to see the big picture: Many organizations still see RPA solely as a means of improving back-office processes. Certainly, robotic automation can boost productivity substantially. Cost savings as high as 80 percent and cuts in the time to perform tasks by as much as 90 percent can be achieved in some financial services operations. But the potential benefits are much bigger. The convergence of RPA with cognitive computing and big data has substantially expanded the capabilities of this technology.

Baffled by the complexity of the market: While advances in RPA have increased its ability to enhance business performance, they have also multiplied its complexity. The boundaries between RPA and cognitive computing, big data, analytics, intelligent machines, machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming more blurred. New-generation RPA, sometimes termed intelligent RPA or cognitive RPA, has yet to be adequately defined. Furthermore, the marketing of RPA solutions and services is often diffuse and sometimes contradictory. Vendors supplying such offerings are also highly diverse. They range from traditional IT suppliers and niche product suppliers to consulting firms and broad-based solutions providers.

Overawed by scale: To realize the full benefit of RPA, organizations need to think big. They must adopt a holistic approach that focuses on transforming how work is conducted throughout the enterprise. Ramping up a few successful pilot projects or implementing RPA applications piecemeal is unlikely to be effective. A comprehensive strategy is vital. It should define how the organization plans to benefit from RPA, identify what work can be automated, select the most appropriate applications, and carefully manage the impact on the workforce. A successful implementation of RPA demands extensive resources and strong commitment from senior management.

Increasingly sophisticated RPA systems offer financial services firms the opportunity to substantially raise the effectiveness of their human capital. And enhance the performance of their businesses. The potential rewards are certainly high. But so are the obstacles.

In my next blog post I’ll discuss how advances in RPA and cognitive computing are going to affect a key segment of the workforce – management.  Until then, have a look at these links. They contain plenty of useful insights.

Robotic Process Automation: Future Technology in Financial Services

Managers and machines, unite: Intelligent machines are poised to dramatically shift management roles and recast the workforce of the future.

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