Banks and Credit Union Look to Move to New RPA Solutions

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No doubt about it, robotic process automation (RPA) is here to stay. According to a recent survey conducted by Blueprint Software Systems, banks across North America and Europe not only have automation estates now extending into the hundreds, but increasingly are focused on expanding those estates to other areas of their organizations.

The apparent love affair between banks and automation doesn’t stop there, however, with survey respondents reporting plans to substantially increase the size of their automation teams and their annual spend on RPA, which now stands at $480,000 on average. All of this comes despite the significant challenges faced by many institutions due to their RPA’s excessive technical complexity and ongoing issues tied to automation support and maintenance.

It also helps to explain why so many banks, spurred by a strong desire to automate more complex, end-to-end business processes rather than smaller, rules-based tasks, are looking to shift from legacy automation tools to a newer generation of cloud-based intelligent automation platforms. If and when this transition happens, the survey indicates the most likely beneficiaries will be institutions’ IT and Finance and Accounting departments, which currently own 71% of all automations.

The four platforms that are continuing to dominate the market (Microsoft Power Automate, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and UiPath) also seem most likely to profit from this change, despite the introduction of numerous new platforms, according to the survey. Microsoft Power Automate in particular has proven to be popular, with users attracted to its reduced licensing fees (which help to reduce the cost of ownership), ease of use, and extensibility with the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Despite this marked preference, more banks seem to be open to considering multi-platform strategies for their automations. Drawn by a newer generation of cloud-native platforms boasting more specialized capabilities, banks increasingly are looking for RPA tools that are compatible with their enterprise architecture even though this approach would appear on the surface to be more expensive and less efficient.

Before deciding what platforms to use, banks are well-advised to take a step back to determine exactly what automations they currently are employing and how well those automations are performing. On average, about 30% of all automations in service are either redundant or failing to deliver value, both of which represent an expense in terms of maintenance and licensing costs that could be readily eliminated.

As part of this process, many banks are discovering that the process design documents that provided the blueprints for the automations on legacy systems they initially adapted are outdated or missing altogether. In many instances, the subject matter experts who helped to put those automations into place are also long gone, leaving these programs with a complete lack of governance.

As a result, improved governance was one of three objectives – along with automating more complex, end-to-end processes and applying RPA more broadly across the entire organization – identified by institutions in the Blueprint survey as critical areas on which they plan to focus their automation efforts in the near term.

Clearly, re-platforming provides banks with the opportunity to completely digitize their automations as they look to achieve these objectives and, in doing so, modernize their automation estates. Re-platforming will enable institutions to finally have an accurate visualization of everything that is contained in their automation portfolios, as well as the opportunity to assess each automation, determine what is working (and what isn’t), and do away with those automations that are failing to deliver expected value.

It is important, though, for banks to recognize that re-platforming is not necessarily the right move for every institution at this time. Before going down that path, it is essential for them to take stock of their automation estate and decide what represents a good fit for re-platforming and what should be done away with.

Given the priorities identified by those participating in the survey, though, it would appear that a move beyond task-based automation to complete, end-to-end intelligent automation is in the not-too-distant future for most banks. The introduction of machine learning and artificial intelligence undoubtedly will speed this trend, bringing with it the ability to automate entire business processes instead of just rules-based tasks. This, in turn, will enable many of the workers currently providing automation support and maintenance to shift to more meaningful work as an ever-growing amount of work across the entire organization is automated.

Irina Lunin is the Vice President of Research & Development at Blueprint Software Systems and is responsible for the vision and evolution of Blueprint’s Business Transformation Platform, a powerful solution that helps large enterprises understand how work is getting done today, so that they can improve it as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Irina has a proven track record of delivering innovative solutions and is passionate about building technology that helps organizations consolidate all of their process information in one place, allowing them to optimize and automate their business processes. For more information, visit https://www.blueprintsys.com/