Banks and financial institutions, like so many sectors of the economy, are still in the throes of managing the wave that seemed to crash overnight – COVID-19. At the same time, conversations are pivoting to emphasize restarting the economy. Banks, financial institutions, and insurance (BFSI) companies are managing a crush of customers who must delay mortgages and other payments, secure loans, and bank completely remotely. At the same, financial enterprises must handle internal changes and adjust business operations accordingly, from instituting new financial models to managing IT strains brought on by remote workers.To learn how RPA (robotic process automation) is helping the BFSI sector emerge from current challenges stronger and more profitable, Kryon Chief Marketing Officer Julie Shafiki sat down with an expert panel of industry insiders.
Tectonic Changes in Lending Caused by Coronavirus
Three major trends in evidence throughout the sector, rising digital adoption, skyrocketing remote work, and volatility in the demand for products and services, are accelerating automation. According to Dr. Alex Balbontin, Senior Expert, Digital Services at global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, banking has seen an increase of about 40% on digital channel usage, with approximately 30% of those users being first-time users. This alone creates challenges. Before the pandemic, about 5% of employees worked from home; now that number has grown to more than 70%. Banks worldwide are part of government loan and assistance programs that must get money into people’s hands quickly. We’ve all seen the struggles of doing that at scale in the U.S. with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Creativity Breeds Innovation in Insurance
Long-term care services and solutions provider LTCG took a proactive approach to these new realities. Instead of reacting and seeking to preserve its existing business model, they looked to balance the need for business productivity with ensuring that people are safe and feel comfortable. Accordingly, LTCG began innovating and offering online services like video-based nursing checkups. Due to preparedness and an agile business practices, the company has been able to institute these new initiatives quickly and see early rewards.
That’s just on the product side. LTCG has also experienced internal demand for improvements. The company has embraced automation to ensure that employees who are now working from home or unable to work full time have some of the more repetitive aspects of their roles taken off their plates. Kryon Full-Cycle Automation has helped them focus on the core aspects of their jobs.
Faster, Better Claims Processing
For global insurance provider Allianz, the need for faster turnaround for claims, property and vehicle quotes, and other insurance services has driven in-house consulting and technology capabilities to be faster, more efficient, and more streamlined. Greater demand from consumers has also forced more product standardization, which requires ferreting out the repeatable elements. “When you need an expert to validate or put a price tag on something, it always drives the cost of the end product higher,” says Thanos Lagios, Head of Project Management Office at Allianz. “Automation has been important to meet customer demands at a faster pace, like reducing our turnaround time of a quote or a claim. But it’s also been a factor in-house to be able to produce that product faster before it goes to the customer.”
Employees’ IT demands, like video conferencing capabilities and fast internet connections stress older legacy systems. Improving these systems drives faster processes internally, which benefits the customer. With increased demand on both sides, the question becomes what to prioritize? There’s a balance between putting the customer first and giving people internally the right toolsets to be successful.
Achieving scale is a challenge for organizations in the best of times. The urgency and financial implications of the crisis have made it even more critical. Having the right fundamentals in place—including senior management sponsorship, robust process management to select and prioritize the right processes, and agile business practices—is essential, not only for new RPA adopters but also for companies with established programs.
Kryon’s Full-Cycle Automation, with integrated Process Discovery and RPA, is helping organizations adapt business models to do more with less, implementing faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective ways to operate without compromising accuracy or service. We have already helped two major health care providers in Israel (Clalit and Maccabi Healthcare Services) and the Ministry of Health in Brazil with their COVID-10 response.
What’s Most Important?
When I asked the panelists for the one piece of advice they would offer a company just starting an automation project or considering RPA, there was more agreement than dissonance. Senior management sponsorship was cited repeatedly as imperative to successful RPA implementation. Choosing your processes well was also universal. As Thanos notes, “Sometimes a process looks like it will be a great candidate for RPA, then when you start to slice and dice it, you realize there’s not much value.” He estimates that 70% of the effort goes at the beginning of an RPA assessment, so it’s essential to work with internal teams to find ways to identify a process quickly.
“If you’re able to change this dynamic and make the process identification 30% and the implementation and value realization 70%, you’ve got a great model,” Thanos continues. “Agile practices are perfect for that because you want to move in an iterative fashion. You don’t want to be stuck in a waterfall mode where you’re spending months upon months.”
Small Can Be Big
For enterprises new to RPA, Justin Kruse, Operations Consultant Policy Owner Services at LTCG, recommends recognizing the value and financial impact of automating smaller processes. “Don’t take on a project that’s huge,” he says. “Some organizations step in with an attitude of we’ve made this investment and we’re assigning big resources to this, so we need to get those high ROI projects started. Often, it’s better to get your feet wet with the tool first.”
Several panelists spoke about starting with “low-hanging fruit.” Justin notes, “It’s useful to assess which processes are most digestible. A ten-step wizard that runs every day and generates a specific report can be very valuable. We found that as we got people doing these sorts of smaller, but more repetitive tasks we can save 150 hours upfront and half an hour every day.” It all adds up to substantial savings over time.
The Next Normal
Looking ahead to the future, all of our panelists agree that there will be a much more holistic approach to automation. AI, machine learning, big data, and analytics will be integrated into comprehensive automation solutions. Automation platforms will be able to ingest any type of data, process it, run it, and make it more efficient.
For much more on the future of RPA and how BFSI is paving the way to a new stage of automation innovation, listen to The Ramp Up: Banks and Financial Institutions Recharge Business with RPA. We want to know what you think. Contact us and give us your thoughts.