The progress of automation in the financial services industry

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Working across a range of industries as I do, I’m always interested to get the perspective of a peer group on the way automation is impacting their own particular industry. So when I gave the keynote speech at the recent Millennium Alliance FSI event in Palm Beach, FL, I relished the opportunity to meet with leaders from major banks and FinTech organizations and learn more about the opportunities and challenges automation is presenting for them. Here’s what I found out.

Leaders in banking and financial services organizations have a lot in common with their peers in other industries

We heard a lot of something we’re calling post-RPA thinking among organizations which have used robotic process automation (RPA) to speed up an inefficient process but do not view RPA as a strategic solution.

On this point I’d respectfully beg to differ. That’s because IBM sees a huge potential for using RPA across an enterprise to automate and dramatically improve the capacity and quality of operations. So it seems automation advocates like me have a challenge on our hands here — one we think is best tackled by taking a step back and setting an enterprise-wide vision for automation (versus seeing it as a point solution). I can see how financial institutions view this direction as tremendously challenging given the disparate lines of business performing independently across their organization. This gives me something more to think about in how to achieve scale in such environments.

And yet, the opportunities presented by automation are unique to the financial services sector

Major focus areas like customer retention and fraud are somewhat unique to banks. Therefore, they see automation — especially cognitive — as being able to help with those areas through advanced data analytics to enhance KYC programs and in analyzing patterns associated with fraud.

Touchless and paper-free are other areas that are top of mind for the financial services institutions. Frictionless processes can not only reduce banking costs and risk of errors, but serve as the ‘golden ticket’ to customer retention in today’s highly competitive environment. Designing processes for no touch using RPA and cognitive solutions (for example, cognitive compare for documents) are areas we discussed as well.
Finally, thanks to the sheer volume of customer and transactional data flowing through processes, automation around optical character recognition is a hot topic in financial services, more so in fact than in other areas.
All in all, it was an interesting session. Similar challenges, but different opportunities. What does automation mean for your industry?

Find out how your industry can be impacted by cognitive automation.

If you have further thoughts, we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or schedule time with someone on my team.

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Vice President, Globally Integrated Capabilities, Global Business Services

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