Blog | Feb 2, 2021

Preparing for Life After COVID 19: Post-Pandemic Innovation in the Banking Sector

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Along with ‘you’re on mute’ one of the most used terms throughout the pandemic is digital acceleration. For banks, it has been anything but business-as-usual, with operations transferring to work remotely, government assistance programmes creating thousands if not tens of thousands of new customers applying for loans, and processes that relied on the exchange of paper documents replaced by more efficient, automated approaches.

So, while the pandemic could have been an existential threat to banks, it has also presented unique opportunities for forward thinkers to emerge from the downturn stronger, sharper and better equipped than ever. Financial services companies now have the opportunity to be part of the post-pandemic solution, guiding customers out of difficulty as many individuals and businesses rebuild their livelihoods.

There’s now a golden opportunity to do away with cultural and organizational inertia to transform work operations. But this involves fighting any indecision that’s inevitably permeated across banks’ thinking and removing the restraints of systemic paralysis. It also means making greater investments, not just financial ones, but in extra effort and courageous thinking too.

Take Bold Action with Intelligent Automation

It may be difficult in the coming years to secure large-scale funding for IT investment, especially when liquidity is king, and cash is being carefully conserved by every bank. But building a business case can be helped along its way by asking a simple question: what happens if we fail to make the decision to invest in a platform that will help us accelerate our digital programmes of change?

Will we be able to keep up with new digital first brands in the consumer, SME and corporate banking sectors? Will we lose out to faster-paced competitors? How long will our customer base accept uncompetitive levels of service and support before they decide to take their business elsewhere?

This brings us to the implementation of intelligent automation, which is the easiest and most effective way to help deliver work much faster, smarter, more efficiently and almost without limits – and with less human intervention.

Our global report The Impact of a Digital Workforce on Business Agility & Survival, which surveyed 6,700 knowledge workers and senior IT decision makers reveals a positive link between global productivity, business agility and resilience as well as with intelligent automation. More than eight in 10 respondents (81 percent) believe intelligent automation will be essential for businesses to remain competitive over the next five years.

Intelligent automation runs a digital workforce, which is trusted and run by business leaders to collaboratively hyper-automate, streamline, expand and accelerate work across the world’s largest most innovative organisations.

Many financial institutions are already using our digital workers to automate business processes to generate hundreds of thousands of transformative use cases and seize new opportunities - on a massive scale and at the pace the market requires. They are achieving in months what it would take IT departments and vast teams of people years to complete - and even then, would achieve less impact.

They are not only seeking multi-currency savings, new levels of operational agility and efficiencies, but also improving business performance, delivering more strategic value-generating roles and saving and re-utilizing billions of hours to fulfil ever greater customer demand. We are seeing transformed service delivery and quality, faster expansion of new services, effortless coping with COVID-19 lock-down via remote working, and most of all speed and scalability.

This is truly a collaborative, large-scale, work revolution. The sophistication, breadth and maturity of these outcomes are years ahead of what’s actually being achieved with any desktop robot or bot – and without introducing the risk of wide-scale digital chaos too.

Why Digital Workers Work Better

A digital workforce is at the heart of any intelligent automation project. A digital workforce is an AI-enabled, ever-evolving, super resource that’s business-ready, IT approved and that can be trained to deliver all process work much faster, smarter, more securely, successfully and in a more scalable way than any other. They perform ever more complex work, not just across the front, middle and back office of a bank, but across the entire enterprise. They operate with total integrity and up to 650 times faster than people, with zero errors, 24x7.

You’d expect digital workers to perform any repeatable and predictable process, but they also do complex and stressful stuff that humans struggle with; from sophisticated diagnostics spotting money laundering, to managing the whole know your customer (KYC) checking process. Think of any work process, design it and they’ll deliver it.

Digital workers work proactively by interweaving AI capabilities to interoperate effortlessly across ever-changing digital environments. They can read different screens, layouts or fonts, application versions, system settings, permissions and languages. They ingest and sort semi-structured and unstructured data from any source, across all IT systems, while providing quality checks, detecting errors and passing exceptions to people to action.

So, What About Your Best Assets, Your People?

They’re freed from being the soul-destroying ‘middleware’ that really drags them down, free to work better and deliver more value. We’re talking about not only managing digital workers’ exceptions, but making critical judgements, applying newly gained insights from automated process data to continually improve work, spending more time with customers, serving them faster, enhancing their experiences, thinking, problem solving and innovating to drive growth.

To perform work, digital workers uniquely access and read the user interface of any current and even future technology without requiring coding. It’s this universal interoperability capability that enables any new technology, especially from our Digital Exchange (DX) online marketplace, to be easily business-consumed, safely tested and swiftly drag-and-dropped into enterprise process flows. This is already driving a new culture of accelerated innovation, with enterprises now able to leapfrog from the past, to the present and into the future at an unprecedented pace.

To compound even more value, all automated work is being hugely multiplied by organizations across their businesses. People can not only centrally design, draw and ‘publish’ processes that digital workers automate, but share, improve and re-use these automated assets anytime, anywhere – with zero coding required.

Crucially for the banking environment, everything is done securely, compliantly and transparently, as there’s a centralized irrefutable audit trail of all process automations, including all digital worker actions and training history. This, coupled with digital workers never impacting the back-end IT estate, prevents technical debt and digital chaos, which also wins the IT department’s approval.

But none of this is possible without a Robotic Operating Model we created almost 20 years ago. Since then, it’s been constantly evolving, continually enriched with insights gained from our customers’ world-class implementations to help better launch, maintain, scale and sustain a successful digital workforce.

Best Practice for Intelligent Automation: A Blend of Human Talent and Digital Workers

To gain optimal results with digital workers, having the best methodologies and human talent is key to success. Once an operating model is defined upfront, including an ambitious, inspiring vision of desired outcomes backed by senior stakeholders, you can start delivering and widely communicating achievements. This allows the digital workforce to really thrive as it scales across the business.

Streamlining, accelerating and digitally automating work, means it will be digital workers that drive organizational adaptation and resilience in the future. They’ll drive an engine for sustainable growth, helping to deliver strategic goals that make the global enterprise and its people smarter, more agile and more efficient in our brave new world.