Few would argue that Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Simone Biles rank among the greatest athletes of all time. Some of what makes them unique is obvious. An 80-inch wingspan makes for a powerful butterfly stroke, an unusually long sprint stride generates blinding acceleration, and exceptional leg power can propel a 4’8” frame a foot or two higher than rivals. But beneath the “it” factor lies another trait that these athletes have in common: the ability to replicate world-class performances time after time under the most intense pressure. Increasingly banks are also getting access to this ability to be “routinely perfect” through robotic process automation technology (RPA).
The promise of RPA is having intelligent and trainable software robots who can serve as invisible virtual workers and can perform at gold-medal level 24/7. These robots sit on top of existing enterprise application software, executing high-volume, low-value-added, rules-based tasks through the same user interface that humans would use. This automation frees up time for banking employees, like mortgage or investment advisors, to spend more time with their clients while also being able to draw on automated analyses, insights and forecasts to offer smarter and more personalized advice. RPA can take a lot of processes and make them faster, better and cheaper, and so avoid some of the unpalatable trade-offs often associated with traditional cost cutting. Instead of blunt-instrument headcount reductions, RPA offers gravity-defying levels of IT and back-office productivity gains that are too big to ignore.
Take, for example, a virtual agent that can create a new loan as part of a residential mortgage loan origination process. Traditional loan origination processes are people-intensive, require extensive manual data input from multiple third parties (often involving double entries), and hence have long cycle times and high error rates. By applying RPA, banks not only get flawless execution but also a cycle time that is 40 percent faster and a process that is up to 80 percent cheaper. Imagine freeing up more time of each FTE over an eight-hour period to focus on customer engagement and higher value-added work. In another example, Accenture used RPA to automate a relatively simple invoice processing task and increased productivity by 70 percent with 100 percent accuracy. With these results, this client’s investment in RPA technology paid for itself in only three months.
RPA can obviously be used as an efficiency tool to lower costs while increasing accuracy and quality. The reality is that over time this type of technology will probably lead to a shrinking overall workforce in the banking industry. However, the real gold-medal opportunity is in using RPA to create a powerful hybrid human/digital workforce in which humans become a lot more productive. It’s like taking a normal gymnast and putting springs in their shoes to be able to tumble like Simone Biles. By getting rid of repetitive administrative tasks, RPA creates the opportunity for employees to be more strategic, creative, productive and valuable.
Enabling humans and machines to collaborate easily will enhance a bank’s ability to become more efficient and effective in serving customers. Yes, the robots are coming—but for bank customers that is going to be a good thing—and the medal count of the banks that use the technology most effectively will undoubtedly rise.
Find out more:
- Watch this video to see how Robotic Process Automation can help improve banking performance
- Read our report, Intelligent Automation: The essential new co-worker in digital banking