Darren Clarke from OpenSky reveals why financial services organisations need to pay attention to Robotic Process Automation.

When we look at the financial services sector, we see an industry that is replete with challenges. I know from my own personal experience working with financial services providers that they frequently deal with operational processes that are quite manual, repetitive and run on legacy systems, many of which do not “talk” to one another.

While Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that can be used in many sectors of business, for the financial services sector, its flexibility, consistency and adaptability offer a real opportunity to transform an organisation′s performance.

“Happier staff results in elevated morale levels which consequently returns higher employee engagement and delivers an overall increase in productivity”

Even though RPA isn’t a new technology, many organisations are unaware of the business benefits it can deliver and haven’t even considered introducing it. But why? Perhaps in-house IT departments don’t have the skills or budgets are constrained, therefore implementing an RPA assistant into operations may not be on the top of the “to do” list.

I would argue that fear is one of the biggest obstacles that prevents organisations from adopting RPA technology and I would also argue that this is possibly damaging their long-term business growth prospects.

Improving staff and company performance

Some people may find it somewhat intimidating to let a robot in. However, let’s not forget RPA isn’t a real robot; it is a software that sits on your current system. You are effectively engaging an invisible, virtual assistant that will work alongside your team members, making their work lives easier.

RPA is the automation of processes, imitating and completing the tasks that a human can do in a shorter timeframe, at a lower cost and with greater accuracy (100pc accuracy in fact!).

Most importantly and during an age where work/life balance is a top priority for most of us these days, RPA can work 24 hours a day without a break – meaning the work gets done when we log off and go home, a  particularly useful advantage during the challenges of COVID-19 when some workforces are reduced.

In other words, your staff can rely on RPA to give them back the time they spend on lengthy and often tiresome tasks, enabling them to focus on more business-critical activities and avoid longer working hours.

Happier staff results in elevated morale levels which consequently returns higher employee engagement and delivers an overall increase in productivity. And when productivity rises and operating costs reduce, profitability increases, and long-term business competitiveness is secured.

Enhancing the customer experience

With improved employee engagement, customers also receive a better, more personalised experience and, as we all know, customer satisfaction is a vital part of the financial services offering. Similarly, introducing RPA can improve the consistency and speed of key business processes, again impacting directly on customer service standards and experience.

As customers’ expectations continue to increase for seamless and speedy interactions with service providers, RPA enables companies to increase their competitive advantage and uphold business continuity. RPA should be an essential part of any strategy to digitise the customer experience and meet the continuously evolving expectations of the customer.

Simplifying data processes

Insurers and banks work with many highly data intensive processes, where data is often held on individual legacy systems and must be moved around for processing purposes. This can mean that the data needs to be transferred or copied from one system to another on a regular basis.

Financial service providers also frequently need to take in data from their customers, carry out assessments on that data and make judgements based on the information provided. Examples include bank loan administration, the adding of beneficiaries to insurance policies, and annual insurance policy renewals. RPA can be the facilitator technology that links up these disparate systems in an overall process to deliver a seamless process for both staff and consumers.

Getting the approach right

So, while there are many advantages to integrating RPA as part of one′s digital transformation journey, many transformation projects are deemed to have failed because not enough attention has been given to the two critical elements which support the project being a success – process and people. A bad process on new technology is still a bad process, but one that is just amplified – potentially doing more harm than good.

Equally, people need to know how to use the new technology effectively if they are to truly adopt it and realise the potential it offers to the business, as well as to them and their roles. It is critical that sufficient time is invested in educating and supporting users to utilise the technology, removing the “fear factor” by showing them that RPA can actually empower them. 

Implementing RPA to your organisational processes doesn’t mean a complete U-turn in terms of your IT strategy or in fact your IT budget. RPA delivers a return on investment usually within 12 months and achieves transformative results instantly – provided, of course, that the critical elements of people, process and technology are aligned.  

Man in grey suit, blue shirt.

Darren Clarke, Head of Customer Success

Darren Clarke is the Head of Customer Success at OpenSky. In his role, he works with clients to build strategic relationships and deliver successful customer outcomes. He has more than 20 years′ experience at management level in business development and account management. Darren has built an extensive career in the financial services and IT industries, across the public and private sectors in both Ireland and the UK.

Published: 9 December 2020

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