How can robotics be a key enabler for operational excellence within your financial services company? Leveraging robotics will not only save you time and money but will also empower you to enhance value to customers. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the backbone of the growing robotics ecosystem.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the backbone of the growing robotics ecosystem. As it is increasingly complemented by AI technology, the term robotics embraces both RPA and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Unlock Investment Capacity

Every financial services organization has a core business, ideally generating a profit. Given the headwinds facing the industry, continuing business as usual won’t give you a profitable future.
We observe that new entrants solve problems better, faster and cheaper. Embracing this new competition can be challenging. To confidently grow towards a profitable future, financial services organizations must transform their core business, assure they maximize profits and build investment capacity to make the shift towards newer businesses possible.

Robotics as key enabler for operational excellence can play a significant role in unlocking core value.

Robotics as a key enabler of operational excellence can play a significant role in unlocking your core value. It’s a first step into successfully attracting and embracing new businesses.  By rotating to the New, you’ll leave your legacy systems behind, paving the way for double-digit growth in sales more than 50 percent growth in EBITD.

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Financial Services Organizations Have Kicked off Their Robotics Journeys

A wide variety of financial services organizations - be it an asset manager, bank or insurer - have already started implementing robotics in their processes and the excitement is tangible. Robotics journeys seem to have been given the green light and many organizations are heavily scaling up their initial pilots. The bottom line is that the robotics technology has proven itself as a success that can rapidly unlock high value against relatively low investments.

Image: Morphing into Leading Operational Excellence with Robotics - Operational Excellence Drivers - by Accenture

The main drivers for operational excellence that has drastically been improved by implementing robotics are:

  • Optimize operational costs in order to maintain and restore profit margin;
  • Free up human capital for higher value activities and increased customer satisfaction;
  • Increase quality and lower error rates;
  • Speed up processing time and improve time to market.

Over the last couple of years, robotic solutions have proven to be capable of supporting business operations to excel. The robotics ecosystem will only further grow as AI technologies mature and unlock even more value in financial services.

Next to the undeniable upside potential, there are also downsides. Undoubtedly, when you are part of a journey striving for operational excellence, not everything always flourishes on the first go. Somewhere in time, you probably started based on an inflated promise that inevitably yielded disappointment. As a result, the robotics journey can be a bumpy ride with a consequent mismatch of expectations and actual results. Let’s take a deep dive into the playing field of promises, expectations, and actuals.

Image: Morphing into Leading Operational Excellence with Robotics - Operational Excellence Drivers - by Accenture

The Math Always Works out

Although you may have already encountered a mismatch of expectations and actual results at an earlier stage, we are convinced the math is working. Meaning that expected benefits can be realized in line with promises and expectations. So, what do you need to anticipate to make this journey a great one and avoid disappointment? How to do the so-called math work?

No matter whether you are a smooth operator or on a slightly bumpy ride, retrospectives are vital. Also, in case you’ve not encountered a real mismatch (congratulations, you live in the ideal world), optimization of the process by continuous improvement should be your next step. Reflect on what happened and check what can be improved going forward.

The root cause of misbalance between expectations and actuals lies, in most situations, in the operationalization of capabilities, or the lack of it, to be precise. Normally, robotics capabilities would be operationalized and prioritized over time since not all capabilities are needed at the same time. You’ll start somewhere, you will scale and then you’ll internalize. The gradual internalization process flows as follows.

Image: Morphing into Leading Operational Excellence with Robotics - Internalization Flow - by Accenture

Wave 1: Start
Most companies start and first operationalize capabilities critical to deploy and manage bots in production, usually starting with a proof of concept to prove it works.

Wave 2: Scale
In the next wave, fully operational capabilities like governance, people, technology next to delivery (deploy and manage robots) are incorporated.

Wave 3: Internalize
In wave three, a fully operationalized strategy is secured and the organization is in the driving seat of the robotics agenda and robotics is an integral part of the business.

The proof-of-concept type of project is an excellent approach to demonstrate that ‘it works’ in a small and lean deployment model, to showcase business benefits. You have ‘built a bot’ and can maybe even control it. In an ideal world, a Proof of Concept (PoC) is used to think over an optimal organizational set-up, based on what the organization values most, and deploy co-creation sessions on this topic. A successful PoC usually shows that your organization is ready to scale. However, with added scale comes added complexity and points of failure. Here's where the Robotics Scale Cycle comes in.

With added scale comes added complexity and points of failure.

The Robotics Scale Cycle

The Robotics Scale Cycle is based on an agile way of working in which capabilities are expected to advance over various iterations. The cycle is an easy-to-understand point of reference that helps in all phases, from start to scale to internalize, to recalibration and assess ownership allocation over eight critical capabilities.
Image: Morphing into Leading Operational Excellence with Robotics - Robotics Scale Cycle - by Accenture

The Robotics Scale Cycle Capabilities Explained

Operating Model - What Do We Want?

There is no one optimal organizational set-up. Depending on what your company value most, centralized or decentralized models, a different set-up may prove more successful. Is a Center of Excellence desired? Is a more divisional approach justified? You should co-create the optimal operating model together with the right stakeholders.

Delivery Model - How to Deliver?

To realize the expected value, a clear and supported delivery model should be agreed upon. This means that delivery processes need to be defined and, in place, guiding principles need to be set and the methodology will have to be incorporated. Defining this clearly will lead to a delivery cycle in which you build and control in an agile way and adopted by those people doing the actual work.

Pipeline - What Processes?

Identify, qualify and analyze opportunities for automation to fill the pipeline. This starts with a discovery phase in which specific business areas are scanned for potential and a roadmap is built. Leverage Design Thinking techniques to ensure a natural adoption of robotics by the business in the discovery phase.

Governance - How to Steer?

Having the right governance is crucial for the success of your robotics implementations. Understanding the various bodies needed to effectively make and enforce decisions is vital to steer robotics while taking existing governance into consideration.

Value Lab - How Do We Benefit?

Whether you implement robotics in a medium-sized company, a division or in a multinational organization with a worldwide roll-out, keeping track of value realized by robotics, covering both revenue gains and cost improvements, is crucial. A real-time overview of created value, thereby even enabling the potential of self-funding initiatives like complementary AI technologies, is a must.

Image: Morphing into Leading Operational Excellence with Robotics - Workforce - by Accenture

People - Who Does What from Where?

Managing the workforce and changes in the workforce caused by automation is key to realize value. Leaders need to reimagine work as well as assess internal capabilities that are needed to scale. An organizational model with role allocation will help the organization to reskill and source (new) talent over time.

Technology - What Do We Use?

Robotics is a business initiative, not a technology tool. However, don’t forget to involve IT. This is a no-brainer but needs serious attention. The journey should be governed by IT in a compliant and secure way: no grey IT.

Ecosystem - How to Build an Ecosystem?

Robotic Process Automation is at the ’simpler’ end of the robotics spectrum and the backbone of most robotics initiatives. Artificial intelligence technologies are evolving and have the potential to unlock even more value for companies when combined with RPA. An understanding of were AI could fit in should be present from an operational, partnership as well as organizational perspective, though ‘raising’ your AI responsibly is a challenge to keep into consideration.

Reflect the Operational Excellence Journey till Date

Now that the capabilities from the Robotics Scale Cycle have been explained, ask yourself the question: “Am I in the driver's seat?" Are you realizing the benefits expected when starting the robotics journey? And looking ahead, do you have a roadmap for the coming months?

Grab a cup of strong coffee (or how you like it), make yourself, and the core team, comfortable and start the conversation using the operating model as a starter. Don’t have one, make one. Evaluate why you do things and how you do them; check in on the Robotics Scale Cycle and reflect on the maturity of each capability.

Are you a starter, scaler or already internalizing on all capabilities or are you in different phases for each capability? Is ownership allocated and are the right people on board? Needless to say, execution is fundamental. In a time when machines seem to be reigning supreme, humans are still the ones who execute and drive success. Have a safe trip!