A growing number of South Africa’s major banking and finance firms are turning to automation to reduce mundane tasks for human workers, says Greg Newton, country manager of Blue Prism.
Blue Prism is a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) whose major clients include major financial services organisations such as Old Mutual, Nedbank and First Rand, plus an array of large enterprise clients across multiple industry sectors.
Newton says the technology effectively combines the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver digital workers that take away the mundane tasks human workers are overloaded with empowering them to focus on important profit-driving initiatives.
“Before RPA, at every stage of a business process where one system needed to communicate with another, if the systems were not integrated, you would need a human to manually plug the gap and typically enter information into multiple systems.
“This need is repeated across the entire organisation as every process involves multiple systems. RPA can automate many of these manual tasks.”
This includes tasks such as:
- Back office tasks dealing with locked accounts or password resets;
- Dealing with onboarding new staff or leavers in HR;
- Automating large parts of applications such as loans, mortgages and credit cards;
- Security and compliance checks;
- Automation can also improve the accuracy of this work and speed up decision and fulfilment timescales.
This will improve the customer experience and massively improve productivity and increase revenues, Newton said. “For example, one bank was able to process 30% more loans per month which added millions to the bottom line.”
Newton said that there are a number of other industries and jobs which are expected to see more automation going forward.
“The service industry is where some major automation opportunities exist. This industry will undergo the same level of transformation as the automotive industry did in the last century, although this time it will be software robots as opposed to physical robots.
“In the future, digital workers and human workers will work together to create much more efficient and productive business operations. This will mean many dull and boring jobs such as data entry will disappear as a robot can do this far quicker and 100% accurately.
“However, the improved business outputs will create many more jobs that focus on humanistic behaviours – empathy, sensing, perceptions and emotions.”
Newton noted that the initial reaction is commonly a negative one as people believe jobs will be lost to automation.
“The reality is that many more jobs are created within the economy. Take Amazon as an example – they have completely automated the retail buying process. This as a result has put some companies out of business with old business models – Catalogue retail stores are one type of shop that became redundant.
“However Amazon have built thousands of warehouses to cater for the stock, this provided business to architects, builders, plumbers etc. They also bought thousands of delivery vehicles increasing business for manufacturers and other firms that are in that supply chain. They also recruited delivery drivers.”
“We cannot stop natural evolution as technology develops. If we work with it and don’t fight to keep things the same as they have always been, there will always be the potential to improve opportunities for everyone.”
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