Intelligent Automation in Banking: 10 Insights from IABFSI 2020

Intelligent Automation is a quickly growing software segment (if not the quickest). WorkFusion was proud to participate in the 2020 Intelligent Automation in Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance Conference — where speakers and attendees discussed industry disruptors, increasing regulatory and security threats, and how to combine new technology with legacy systems. We hosted an interactive discussion, “Managing, Maintaining and Scaling a Digital Workforce,” and greeted attendees at our booth. While doing so, we made a few observations from our conversations. Here’s a “Top 10” list:

1. ‘We’re just getting started’ is a common sentiment

While Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Intelligent Automation (IA), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in banking efforts have been around for years, many financial organizations are here in 2020 still preparing for or beginning their automation journey — which is just fine. We’re happy to share best practices to get people off on the right foot!

2. Many people first look to ‘start small’

As O’Reilly and others have surveyed, organizations often struggle to determine where they can start with AI and Intelligent Automation trends in banking, and they are hindered by a lack of data or skillsets. At WorkFusion, we’ve simplified this by creating pre-trained bots.

We talked to conference attendees about how they could follow the lead of WorkFusion customers like Scotiabank, Carter Bank, and Deutsche Bank that have had the advantage of automating with pre-trained bots, allowing them to “start small” in the sense of implementation cost without sacrificing value that can be delivered.

3. Speed is key

People who want to bring automation into their organization want to do so quickly. Automation is about work being done more quickly and efficiently; implementing automation should be, too. Conference attendees are looking for value in the near-term, which aligns to WorkFusion’s supreme focus of time-to-value with pre-trained bots, even on AI-focused use cases that can be in production within weeks.

4. Pre-work steps often consider Six Sigma and process re-engineering

Intelligent Automation often starts by first looking for potential efficiencies in the process. These may be available via organizational changes, new technologies, or re-thinking the workflow. We encourage this! At the conference, we demo’ed software that customers have been adopting, with pre-trained bots that leverage our experiences with customers’ best and most efficient means, rather than theoretical approaches.

5. Most common 1st goal: cost savings (but that shifts with success)

Many, if not most, organizations begin their automation journey with a goal of cost savings, often trying to reduce headcount with very clean ROI calculations. Many early-stage organizations at this conference seemed destined to follow the same path. However, as was validated by other companies further along their automation journeys, we find that metrics of success often shift away from a direct cost-reduction figure and more toward measurement of expanded coverage, faster cycle times, or even how much morale is boosted.

Some examples from our customer base: An AML team was able to expand investigations to medium-risk customers, onboarding teams reduced cycle times from weeks down to minutes, and finance teams simplified annoying, stressful end-of-month closeouts.

6. People remain the experts

Another common goal of conference attendees who are early in their customer journey is achieving Straight-Through Processing (STP). Although a useful metric, blind pursuit of STP overlooks an inevitable aspect of automation: People are important. In many automated situations, people may serve in quality control (QC), training, or documentation roles. In other processes, people may still need to review every record, or maybe just high-value items or samples. Either way, people still matter. WorkFusion makes including them easy by incorporating human-in-the-loop (HITL) functionality.

7. Typical 2nd phase: Tackling documents and unstructured data

Many successful automation in banking programs started small with RPA and automated what RPA is best at: digital, repeatable, structured, rules-based tasks. Next, they may see a dire need for automation that can work with documents — especially semi-structured and unstructured data found in sources like insurance forms, emails, and identity documentation. At the conference, we talked to many folks about how they are now looking at document processing automation and unstructured data automation use cases — the use cases where WorkFusion excels, and we love not only talking about but delivering success. But in addition, we’ve seen a number of customers jump straight into Intelligent Automation for addressing their documents and unstructured data, rather than starting with a structured RPA approach.

8. Experienced automation customers are sophisticated and specific

Even mature automation in banking programs that we talked to at the conference are still seeking big returns that have thus far eluded them. They have tested or implemented a tool or two and found limited success, but not yet found a truly valuable solution. When we talked to folks at the conference about our pre-trained bots, we often saw an energetic response. Understanding individual tools and broad functionality is great and all, but what they really want is solutions to their specific problems.

9. Governance and control are essential

As automation in banking and financial services programs scale and grow, issues of governance and control become crucial. Center of Excellence initiatives (CoEs) seek control over the entire automation program, IT seeks governance over technologies being acquired, and both of those teams want the business side to capture value, but with the proper oversight (theirs). As we showed people at the conference, centralized automation solutions like WorkFusion’s answer these concerns and simplify shared ownership.

10. Carter Bank’s Matt Speare is an Intelligent Automation in banking rock star

A final point, and we can admit we’re biased here: Carter Bank & Trust is a WorkFusion customer, and CTO Matt Speare is our champion. But his presentation at the conference, about how this regional U.S. bank is achieving multi-million-dollar cost savings, is a success story that many Intelligent Automation conference attendees would love to replicate. Salute, Matt!

Do you identify with issues facing folks at this Intelligent Automation conference, and have questions? Or do you have something else you’d like to discuss? We’d love to hear from you.

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Kyle Hoback
Nick Poltrack
Stephen Risolo

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