Banks, insurers lead the way in RPA
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Banks, insurers lead the way in RPA

Robotic process automation (RPA) is gaining momentum inside banks and insurance companies as part of digital transformation, says the global research firm IDC.

"RPA is an important part of most organisations' digital transformation strategy, in particular the financial service insurance sector," said Sneha Kapoor, research manager of IDC Financial Insights.

The adoption of RPA in Thailand is growing fast among banks and insurance companies, standing out in the region.

At its latest annual Financial Insights Innovation Awards at the Asian Financial Services Congress 2019 in Singapore, Bank of Ayudhya Plc won two awards: Best Bank in Asia and Asia's Most Transformative Bank. One key reason was the successful deployment of RPA projects.

The main reason for the increase in adoption of RPA for automating key tasks and decisions is its potential to increase business process and IT operational efficiency, but it can also impact customer experience, business and manufacturing processes, and strategies.

The most common processes considered for automation in financial services are mortgage processing and loan restructuring, as well as performance-related tasks such as compliance reporting, performance and financial reporting.

Insurance-specific tasks such as claims processing, underwriting and pricing, policy administration and servicing can also be automated.

Financial and insurance companies can achieve costs savings in the range of 30–60%, Ms Kapoor said. But actual numbers would ultimately vary based on the cost base, the market, the business process itself and the investments needed to support  RPA.

The implementation time required is also short, usually ranging from six to 12 weeks.

Based on IDC research, technology buyers can break even on RPA investment within 10 months to two years.

With RPA, the turnaround time to complete a process can decrease significantly. Early indicators point to a reduction of turnaround time ranging from 50% to 90%.

Kapoor: Efficiency and cost savings

"By 2021, we expect 60% of Tier 1 Asia-Pacific banks and insurance companies to deploy intelligent digital workforce solutions for increased automation, intelligent decision-making and improved operational efficiencies to achieve an exceptional business value and deliver a more real-time and contextual customer experience," Ms Kapoor said.

The intelligent digital workforce comprises intelligent digital workers -- essentially software robots that can perform both deterministic and non-deterministic tasks by continuously understanding and analysing structured and unstructured data.

In other words, the intelligent digital workforce is progressively graduating from merely mimicking human actions to augmenting human intelligence, as well as evolving quickly to achieve the potential of autonomously emulating this intelligence.

The term intelligent automation is also used by the industry to refer to the intelligent digital workforce.

These "workers" represent rules and judgement-based automation and, like their human counterparts, they are both self-learning and self-healing workers that can discover patterns to predict decisions and even offer recommendations to improve them.

Automation should proceed in financial services because of RPA, as well as across the entire intelligent automation spectrum.

Ms Kapoor foresees growing demand for skills in several areas, ranging from data science, machine learning and other cognitive technologies, big data and analytics, design thinking, cybersecurity, risk management and compliance and governance.

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