By Chris Huff, Chief Strategy Officer, Kofax
Global banks continue to invest in digital-transformation technologies as they modernise operations. That level of change is imperative if they want to be more competitive in the new digital and experience economy. However, the sheer volume of data being generated at an extremely fast pace is an obstacle that banks must face.
Just imagine how much data has been created around the world in the past two years alone. Banks simply don’t have the resource capacity or time to mine and analyse this mountain of data at the same pace that it’s being generated, which means they’re missing out on actionable insights that could propel their businesses forward.
But herein also lies an opportunity. When banks combine automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, they’re enabled to consume and analyse large volumes of data rapidly and digitally transform workflows. Jumping on this technology opportunity enables banks to leverage significant insights, which can help these organisations to make faster and higher-quality business decisions while also providing more personalised services to customers.
The recipe for turning the data challenge into a golden opportunity is to use the right combination of technologies. Global surveys from McKinsey1 and Deloitte2 concluded that there are three technologies required for banks to establish and sustain an automation programme at scale—business process management (BPM), robotic process automation (RPA) and optical character recognition (OCR). These technologies provide the foundation for success. But to truly scale automation across the enterprise, banks need an intelligent automation (IA) solution equipped with additional capabilities, such as document intelligence, process orchestration and connected systems.
BPM, RPA and OCR: The essential ingredients for success
While it would be much simpler if banks could look to a standalone technology such as RPA to automate at scale, the truth is that this approach limits institutions to automating single workflows and processes. To truly connect operations end to end and gain the ability to scale automation across the enterprise, banks need a solution that integrates multiple capabilities into a single, intelligent automation platform. A holistic approach contains all the necessary ingredients banks need to modernise and digitise more quickly, delivering a faster speed-to-value and a larger number of benefits throughout the business and those it aims to serve.
Let’s look at BPM first. This technology digitises and automates complex business processes, such as account opening and loan processing. BPM streamlines business processes, improving speed and accuracy. Employees and customers save time, and the bank benefits from cost savings and operational efficiencies.
However, often there are still tasks within these processes that BPM cannot automate. There also may be legacy systems in place requiring manual retrieval or data entry. This is where RPA comes into play. With RPA, software robots take over the manual, labour-intensive tasks from human employees. Bots also reconcile information within legacy systems to ensure the data is accurate and up to date.
The RPA robot may operate independently of a human, performing tasks and entering information on its own, or a human may trigger the robot to perform a specific task, such as retrieving financial information for a customer. When an RPA robot completes a task, the results are delivered directly into the BPM platform, making it easily accessible to employees. Humans spend less time on mundane, repetitive tasks and more time on strategic thinking and higher-value functions. This is not only better for the business and its bottom line but also employee satisfaction.
The combination of BPM and RPA empowers banks to automate complex processes and the tasks within them. But what about the large volumes of content coming into the bank every day? OCR tackles this issue by accurately digitising files, so documents are easily editable, searchable and shareable. Large volumes of previously manual, error-prone data-entry work are automated, reducing the time spent converting files and making it easy to share and manage documents. Banks can even schedule large volumes of files for batch processing for real-time document processing. Managers and employees can capture text with their smartphones and convert pictures to text documents.
Intelligent automation: The secret spice for a truly scalable solution
In addition to BPM, RPA and OCR, an intelligent automation platform provides other complementary technologies:
Document intelligence combines cognitive capture and AI to convert documents into data automatically. Cognitive capture is more than just OCR. It combines OCR with a number of other processing technologies, such as pattern and keyword matching, to intelligently automate the capture, analysis and integration of structured and unstructured data. This works with any type of communication or document, regardless of format and across any channel. AI technologies add even more value to the process by using algorithms to quickly identify and classify different types of documents based on training sets. Entity extraction uses natural language processing (NLP) and contextual data analysis to identify named entities in unstructured text automatically. Machine-learning technology recognises which data is valid then extracts and compiles it into a dataset or for use in an application. As the process continues, the technology becomes smarter, becoming more accurate and adding more efficiencies to business processes.
Process orchestration provides the agility banks need to excel by making it easy to add and manage digital workforces on demand. Banks can monitor the time, resources and costs associated with every step in a given workflow, so they can identify opportunities for improving efficiencies. As requirements or needs change, it’s simple to add a new step to a process or modify an existing step. This can be accomplished quickly with a no/low-code intelligent automation platform, so banks aren’t bogged down with long development cycles. Process orchestration is the key to scaling an automation programme and optimising the quality of services offered across the business.
Connected systems bring together all of a bank’s business systems—applications, legacy infrastructure, mobile, chatbots and more—across internal and external business processes. An intelligent automation platform that seamlessly integrates with other systems through open architecture reduces complexity and saves time. Prebuilt adapters connect to core systems, and the ability to deploy and scale on the cloud of choice makes it possible to leverage efficiencies and low costs of ownership of platforms such as Amazon Web Services. The best platforms include capabilities to simulate keystrokes in legacy-thick client or web-user interfaces and connect to the latest RESTful (representational state transfer) web services to unlock any integration requirements. Connected systems streamline data across all operations and make valuable insights available to disparate systems. Banks gain the edge needed to bring new business models to market faster.
With all its data integrated into a single platform, a bank can access the information needed to make informed, real-time decisions. Advanced analytics provide a truly holistic view of the business and full visibility into all systems and processes. While prescriptive analytics deliver the insights needed to make immediate improvements to business processes today, predictive analytics provide the information required to adapt and meet customers’ changing needs tomorrow.
An intelligent automation platform gives banks a complete toolbox for scaling automation, delivering many benefits:
- Increased revenue: The ability to make faster and more informed business decisions opens new business opportunities for banks. Employees also can get more work done in the same amount of time, further adding to the bottom line.
- Reduced costs: Improved accuracy reduces the number of time-consuming and costly errors. The deployment of RPA bots enables banks to increase workforce capacity for manual tasks without adding to headcount.
- Superior customer experience: Faster and more accurate response times drive customer loyalty. Customer interactions are smoother and more impactful, creating the frictionless experience the modern customer has come to demand and expect.
- Improved employee productivity and satisfaction: Employees have more time to focus on higher-value tasks, creating a better customer experience and contributing to revenue. Human workers enjoy spending less time on manual, repetitive work, so automation also raises employee morale and overall job satisfaction.
- Improved compliance: Intelligent automation makes it easier for banks to adhere to compliance and regulation requirements, such as KYC (know your customer) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), reducing the occurrence of violations, which can hurt the bottom line and a bank’s reputation.
- Enhanced agility: Faster, smarter decision-making and the ability to easily scale automation as business needs change create a more flexible and agile organisation. An institution can become (and remain) a leader in the marketplace.
Start with the proper technology to taste success.
Having the right ingredients for automating at scale and unlocking the full potential of data is the first step in the right direction. But these ingredients need to be combined in the right amounts and properly implemented (or baked) to yield results. Multiple solutions from different vendors result in a complex implementation process, which is difficult to support and nearly impossible to scale. Not to mention, it’s a more costly approach and less likely to deliver the improved productivity, employee satisfaction, customer retention and other benefits described here. A piecemeal approach will leave many banks disappointed with the results—much like a souffle that fails to rise.
A single, integrated intelligent automation platform brings together a full suite of complementary technologies, allowing banks to automate the entire business process journey faster and more easily. A solution with embedded AI technology further supports scalability, making application throughout the enterprise a reality. Think of it as the secret ingredient to successful automation at scale.
As banks continue to digitally transform, they need a modern solution to support their efforts today and well into the future. An integrated platform lets banks easily whip up the right combination of technologies to implement end-to-end automation, delivering greater insights and enhancing business decisions so that they can Work Like Tomorrow™—today.
1 McKinsey & Company: “The imperatives for automation success” survey, August 25, 2020
2 Deloitte Insights: “Automation with intelligence: Pursuing organisation-wide reimagination”, Richard Horton, Gina Schaefer, Justin Watson, David Wright, Dupe Witherick, Anastasilia Polner, Tanya Telford, November 25, 2020