Robotics Process Automation is not an end in itself – it is a transitional technology which, when coupled with others, helps FS enterprises transform their business. This is what Accenture calls Intelligent Automation.
The financial services industry — which encompasses the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors — continues to deal with difficult strategic challenges. These include cost reduction, regulatory adherence, customer satisfaction, security, resilience, agility and competition from digital outsiders. Automation helps address many of these challenges and financial services has been relatively quick to embrace automation over the past few years, particularly in the form of Robotics Process Automation or RPA.
RPA is well suited to tackling point issues and repetitive, routine tasks such as account opening, claims processing, markets trading, reconciliation, audit and much more. Financial services firms using RPA solutions in these areas have seen the benefits of reduced handling and/or turnaround times, lower error rates, improved customer satisfaction, and better, clearer audit trails.
Financial services firms seeking profitable growth over the long term, however, understand the need for end-to-end business transformation. In this journey, RPA is a transitional stage, forming part of what Accenture has termed “Intelligent Automation.” Intelligent Automation integrates RPA, cognitive RPA, machine learning and other artificial intelligence (AI) as elements of a broader digital transformation.
Accenture research indicates that more than three quarters (76%) of global technology and business executives believe that within three years, most banks will deploy AI as their primary point of interaction with their customers; and 79 % of insurance executives also agree that AI will revolutionize the way they gain information from and interact with customers. As Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017 noted, “AI is the new UI,” meaning that artificial intelligence is increasingly serving as the interface between customers and financial services firms. Firms relying on AI for some internal and external interactions will help elevate the customer experience and will be able to move staff to more judgment-based and higher value added roles.
It follows that RPA – including RPA implementation at scale – is just the start towards transforming the FS business at the enterprise level through automation. There is much more to address than just the back office or the finance, HR or risk functions. RPA is evolving, moving into the front office where man and machine can work together to serve customers’ banking, investment or insurance needs. Cognitive RPA can then be used for even more complex interactions where inputs are less structured.
Leading financial services firms are embarking on the automation journey with the end – a transformed business vision – in mind. They are often starting with RPA to build confidence, then scaling out both across the organisation and the spectrum of automation technologies. Through assessing end to end customer and colleague journeys for automation potential and then implementing in a holistic way, they are better meeting customer needs and maximising business value. Intelligent Automation can address strategic challenges, but this is a major undertaking, requiring a partner ecosystem and skilled advisors to find the most suited path to the desired end state.