Automating bank operations? Keep eyes wide open

Customer experience is the grand basis of competition in today’s business world. Unfortunately, most financial services institutions remain mired in manual, bespoke, paper-based processes—often siloed by customer, channel and product groups within a . That is beginning to change.

RPA can reduce time to perform tasks by up to 90% and lower costs by up to 80%

Automating bank operations? Keep eyes wide open fintech
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A key theme from Accenture’s recent survey of 80 bank COOs in North America is the need for back-office to become more digital and to act as the new front office. The survey report highlights several opportunities for to improve their operations—such as re-skilling back-office workers, creating agility through digital decoupling and robotics process automation (RPA). Sixteen percent of bank COOs we polled are using RPA, while 63 percent plan to use it over the next year or are piloting the . Half of those surveyed are looking towards straight-through processing and almost 75 percent have or plan to use analytics and data automation to truly unlock latent value in operations data.

This presents a unique opportunity for banks to accelerate the use of modern automation techniques given their fundamental ability to enhance the customer and employee experience.

Why is automation so important for banks?

Intelligent automation has the power to impact operations. Here are five key reasons why:

  1. Simplifies work routines. Not all work is created equal and in many banks simple work is intermingled with complex work. This can create issues such as process bottlenecks, complicated workflows and slow customer service. Separating the simple from the complex can go a long way in making bank interactions better for customers and employees.
  2. Reduces process re-work. Enabling repeatability, enhanced predictability and streamlining the process helps a bank reduce hand-offs. Couple this with synergies of combined human-AI skills to run the process as a highly efficient factory and the benefits grow exponentially.
  3. Improves work quality. Automation aims to reduce errors by eliminating human touchpoints and judgment for routine activities across the banking value chain.
  4. Enhances efficiencies. RPA can free up resource capacity to focus on higher value activities.
  5. Speeds up innovation and time to market. Increased throughput, lower re-work and fewer errors all result in quick turnarounds.

Banks should start their automation journey with the goal to look beyond cost savings. Five keys for success:

  1. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. Organizational processes can be repetitive or event-based with different types of data exchange. Assessment of process types and data is required to plan and using RPA or intelligent automation will actually simplify targeted processes to enhance efficiencies.
  2. Cost is only one piece of the puzzle. Automate because you want to create an innovative employee experience by focusing your people on the right activities, thus reducing errors and eliminating re-work. And improve the customer experience and speed to market. Efficiency will be a collateral advantage, but it should not be the going-in driver.
  3. Draw on operational data to drive front-office behavior. Operations is a treasure trove of data—from complaints and service/product issues to customer life events. Data automation with advanced analytics can extract valuable insights that banks can use to delight customers by anticipating their needs based on past transactions.
  4. Think big but start small. Circumvent the product-versus-customer-versus-channel debate by selecting a starting area and get going. Deliver in sprints, build momentum and stay the course.
  5. Agility is a mindset. Work through sprints without over-studying the current state, and then reimagine how the future could work in the context of an automated process.

The power of RPA to invigorate bank operations is real—reducing time to perform tasks by up to 90 percent and lowering costs by up to 80 percent, by Accenture estimations. Before jumping on the bandwagon, however, business and IT must join together to strategically plan an optimal journey to an agile bank future.

Read our 2018 North America Banking Operations Survey for more insights.

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