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The race to scale up automation in financial services

20 February 2020 |

The race to scale up automation in financial services

As financial services organizations look ahead to the new decade, they will be aware the next ten years are set to bring about dramatic changes in how they go to market.

Digital transformation and increasing consumer expectations will place heightened pressure on banks and insurance companies to deliver intuitive and personalized customer experience, far beyond what we currently see in the market.

This need for innovation will play out against a backdrop of worsening skills shortages and a fierce war for talent within the financial services sector. Businesses will need to find ways to maximize the productivity of their people and ensure they are deriving maximum value from key talent.

Little wonder then that banks and insurance firms are looking to scale up their automation programs over the next few years. Digital labor will be absolutely critical in delivering improved customer experience and ensuring compliance, whilst freeing up people from mundane and repetitive to focus their efforts on innovation, strategic relationships and commercial growth.

Our recent research paper, Taking Automation to the Next Level revealed the extent to which organizations are looking to accelerate their rate of automation and deploy digital labor in more strategic, business-critical areas.

Currently, just 7% of organizations claim to have automated more than 20% of all of their operational processes to date. In the next five years, this number is predicted to rise to 50% within the financial services sector.

The quest for productivity

Banks and insurance companies have traditionally been at the forefront of automation adoption, using virtual workers to streamline back-office tasks across the organization, from HR and accounts through to contact centers and field sales.

More recently, however, the focus has shifted away from tactical deployment to more complex and strategic initiatives. Intelligent Automation (IA), which combines traditional Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Artificial Intelligence (AI) functionality, now allows firms to automate a far wider range of workplace processes, faster, more effectively and securely.

As a result, the drivers for automation have evolved. No longer are banks looking to RPA technology to reduce cost; instead, they are ramping up their use of Intelligent Automation to tackle widespread skills and productivity issues.

We have reached a tipping point where automation is now less about tactical cost-reduction and more about customer experience, strategic growth and speed to market.

Financial services firms are re-defining how ‘work’ is resourced across their operations, based on the relative strengths and capabilities of human and digital labor. For business leaders, it’s a game-changer, providing the agility to respond to market disruption and adapt to regulatory change, and also to pursue new opportunities that would otherwise be impossible with a traditional approach to resourcing.

A third of strategy leaders within financial services believe that this type of Intelligent Automation could transform part of their business, whilst 8% feel that IA could in fact transform the organization as a whole.

The possibilities are endless. Without doubt, it is the ability of banks and insurance firms to build, manage and optimize this blend of human and digital labor which will decide the winners and losers in the 2020s.

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