Process automation in banking sector
Although lots of progress is finally underway, many banks today still rely on monotonous manual processing methods to complete some of their business-critical tasks, bringing about workforce inefficiencies. Workload automation (WLA) holds the key to optimizing business processes in a secure and cost-effective way, sparing staff resources for value-added projects that will boost customer satisfaction and help to grow the business in the post-pandemic era.
Despite the advantages of automation in banking, however, only 10 percent of financial institutions (FIs) have completed widespread implementation. Another 25 percent, though, already have some process automation projects in place, while another 22 percent have pilots in action, according to a study by Cognizant released in April of 2021.
That’s still a big leap ahead of the results of a similar study performed by Cognizant in 2017. Back then, 65 percent of FI executives in the survey described their organizations as only “in the early stages of identifying and testing process automation proof-of-concept projects, if [they had] done anything at all.”
Pandemic is a major automation driver
As researchers at Cognizant see it, process automation is part of a three-pronged technology strategy, also including artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics, which financial institutions are now using for moving beyond the basics of digital banking and one-size-fits-all services.
Adoption of these technologies has been sped up by needs emerging during the pandemic to personalize the customer experience while also augmenting back-office processes like compliance and fraud detection. Fully 51 percent of banking respondents in Cognizant’s 2021 survey said they’d been forced during the pandemic to take significant actions across the business to support remote workers and handle a sudden influx of customer needs for digital services such as obtaining loans and making credit card payments.
Two types of automation needed
Two types of banking automation are happening. Many early implementations have focused on robotic process automation (RPA), a type of technology for front-end process automation. Geared mainly to business users, software for robotic process automation in banking is typically installed on desktops and is useful for automating common interactions an end-user might have with the user interface.
RPA, however, is not enough to fulfill IT process automation, according to Gartner. Instead, businesses must deliver end-to-end automation beyond RPA by mixing complementary technologies to augment business processes and achieve what the analyst group refers to as “hyper-automation.” RPA is also fragile, in that it can be broken by updates to one of the browsers or program interfaces it’s programmed for. This can make complex RPA installations costly to manage and update.
WLA, the other type of process automation in the banking sector, is used for designing, scheduling, monitoring, and managing scripts and executables across the enterprise. Focused on back-end process automation, WLA is primarily for IT users. It leverages agent technology installed on servers along with REST APIs to integrate with and orchestrate the executables of other applications. We should note that self-service automation can allow non-IT users access to complex workflows without compromising security or giving them admin privileges to core systems.
At SMA Technologies, we believe that RPA and WLA should both be used to produce a comprehensive automation solution. RPA can be highly effective for simple tasks like form-fills, but WLA is capable of handling far more complex IT process automation. WLA also integrates with third-party apps much more efficiently.
OpCon is a global integrator for banking
SMA’s cloud-enabled WLA platform, known as OpCon, operates across all of the computing platforms commonly used in banking, including iSeries midrange systems, mainframes, and Unix, Linux, and Microsoft Windows servers. OpCon also has a Docker image and can replace the built-in scheduler for Kubernetes clusters.
You can eliminate inefficient silos by integrating software applications across departments such as IT, operations, accounting, and HR. Beyond achieving highly advanced job scheduling, you can automate just about any job function, even benefiting from 24/7 lights-out operation. OpCon uses centralized script management to support cross-platform workflows within a single point of visibility and control.
When it comes to third-party solutions, OpCon integrates not only with core banking applications but with specialized applications as well. For example, you can integrate with FiServ’s mobile solution, which supports mobile transactions ranging from banking inquiries to payments through three mobile access modes: SMS, mobile browser, and downloadable mobile app.
Credit unions using Symitar’s Episys core banking solution can also integrate with Symitar applications like SymApp, which provides a single user interface for customers applying for memberships, accounts, and loans from desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone devices.
Integrate with OpCon, too, for automating CommVault data protection[JE1] and data management, ServiceNow workflow management, multivendor back-end ERP systems, and much more.
OpCon’s own tools
OpCon also offers several specialized modules for enhancing workload automation.
- OpCon Self Service empowers end-users and reduces IT requests by translating OpCon workflows into a simple button interface. Non-IT personnel across the company can trigger automated processes with a single click.
- OpCon Vision, a simple dashboard for viewing automated processes, can also be upgraded to monitor SLAs and to automatically take corrective action when SLAs are in jeopardy.
- OpCon Deploy lets users make and manage changes across environments without having to worry about disrupting business processes.
Additional advantages of OpCon
OpCon provides many more advantages for automation in banking, too. These include enhanced security and governance; fully automated disaster recovery; simplified auditing and reporting; the ability to capture and embed knowledge directly into smart tasks; and opportunities to scale the business upward going forward.