Sibos bought together over 18,000 finance professionals under one virtual ceiling last week, and I had the pleasure of speaking with Frank Psoras, SVP Customer Strategy, Innovation and Acquisition at TD Bank to discuss the future of work, and how the pandemic has become a catalyst for driving transformation.
Our conversation highlighted how robotic process automation (RPA), combined with AI and other cognitive technologies, will transform work in the future and how TD Bank, as one of Canada’s largest banks, sees a future based on so called digital workers, or software robots.
RPA is the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market, according to Gartner, which is set to play a key role in building future transformation strategy.
One issue with this is the definition of RPA, some see it as including keystrokes, and scripts. Whereas, Blue Prism see this as “scripting” – and our version of Robotic Processing is trying to get a software robot as close to a human worker as we can, embracing AI, business skills, and team collaboration, both with other robots and with humans.
The magnitude of this disruptive capability cannot be underestimated. It makes a digital singularity possible by augmenting any past, present or future enterprise applications with a digital workforce.
Our vision lies in the concept of delivering a digital workforce for every enterprise. The concept is that future organizations will evolve into 3 essential components: 1/3 people, 1/3 systems and 1/3 digital workforce. All 3 of these aspects need to be working in complete harmony to be successful.
Banking on Intelligent Automation
This takes us back to discussion with Frank at TD Bank. In the past two years, the bank has scaled up to 400 digital workers. This workforce is proving the perfect solution to automate front-to-back office operations that possess a high number of manual processes. Frank’s team has grown rapidly from 3 to 100 people and have shifted focus from cost savings to driving speed and operational agility.
As Frank explains it, “You have a talent base that you have to build, you have people that have to think in that way. We shifted our workforce from doing repetitive exercises, to re-thinking how we do the process, actually enabling it – while managing new types of operational risk.”
Our digital workers are designed to operate securely and compliantly within the world’s most highly regulated industries. For example, in-built safeguarding measures ensure that all automations are published to a centralized platform with a complete audit trail.
Jobs and More Jobs
I’m also glad to see the notion that automation is a “job killer” being dispelled. Frank believes that “it’s far more than just about cost elimination, there’s so much more that you can do.” New job roles have been created too. His team have all transitioned from a diverse range of disciplines across the business into new more interesting roles that involve real end-to-end thinking. His staff relish collaborating with digital workers to generate far greater productivity. For example; to optimize a customer appointment process, a digital worker now pre-fills multiple forms allowing the staff member to have a better conversation with customers.
I also believe there’s no shortage of work. Automation’s impact across manufacturing tells a story too with the sector gaining 50x productivity, without removing headcount. Automation is having a similar impact in the services sector; it’s about driving service predictability, greater quality and the scalability to manage larger amounts of work.
Imagine what humans could achieve in the wider world if some of these tasks were dealt with in different ways.
COVID-19 Shines a Light
Ultimately, the pandemic has highlighted and accelerated the adoption of digital workers across the globe. The NHS is another great example, automating a wide range of admin processes on a vast scale, and these automations are being reused across multiple Trusts. In banking, a new business loan support process went live in an incredible 3-day period. Frank added that digital workers have delivered programs at a speed and scale required by customers; without them they would have been really pressed to execute these demands.
Soon, many more of us will be working with digital workers, and we’ll be happy to be solving more problems with new levels of human creativity. These uncertain times are a forcing mechanism to not only work faster and smarter but to use human ingenuity to solve the most difficult challenges that lay ahead. It’s time to embrace this new world of intelligent automation.
Source: Gartner, Inc., Market Share Analysis: Robotic Process Automation, Worldwide, 2019, 26 May 2020