Evolution means change, and today, the Financial Services sector can deliver unexplored possibilities by deploying automation and AI capabilities unheard of in the past decade. And women leaders are indisputably driving that change.
Introduction — Automation and AI technologies transforming the BFSI industry beyond years
Twenty years ago, there was much hype surrounding the BFSI industry; it was one of the hottest industries to pursue. It’s now 2021. Has the industry hit a roadblock? The truth is in order to remain relevant, organizations need to challenge traditional ways of functioning, going above and beyond what’s expected.
Today, emerging technologies like AI and Automation are fully harnessed by organizations across all industries to succeed in the new age of digital. The Financial Services sector is one such industry where technology implementation into specialized banking areas is not a novel phenomenon. But, are financial institutions adopting new technologies to meet the evolving landscape? Does it see AI & Automation as a threat or an opportunity?
The BFSI industry needs to evolve into being technologically savvy to maintain a competitive advantage, avoiding the fear of becoming defunct. One of the fastest-growing industries globally, the BFSI market is undergoing a paradigm shift in customer expectations, competition from fintechs, and the launch of new, digital tech innovations. The coming century will see banking companies play the role of technology platform providers to their customers, and it is inevitable if they have to stay relevant.
In India, where most banking captives or GCCs are housed we have witnessed a move up the value chain in the last two decades. This move up the value chain has been triggered to a significant degree by technology playing the role of a catalyst. Automations, deploying AI for processes have increased, rendering process-driven activities obsolete.
The Finance function is overwhelmed with mundane activities during the month-end or quarter-end, despite having ERP and other technologies. Moreover, interfaces require manual interventions and are characterized by complex systems, and the lack of a seamless financial tool can cost the organization big. This is particularly so in organizations that have had inorganic growth. Multiple systems that come with acquisitions take time to decommission, leading to manual interventions resulting in loss of productivity and increasing errors. Implementing technologies like RPA and AI can help simplify or transform these interventions across the banking value chain.
Apart from automation, GCCs also have to look at their delivery model. Third-party providers are going strong post the pandemic as they deliver value for money. In such a scenario, GCCs have to stay relevant and benchmark themselves to these players. The right mix of outsourcing and insourcing can help meet the cost targets that their group has set for themselves.
Here are a few use cases where automation plays a key role in digital transformation in the BFSI Industry
Automation helps provides a hassle-free customer experience as they are available 24×7 by supporting digital self-service. The bots automate routine work, freeing up staff to focus on building customer relationships. From driving personalized engagement to drastically reducing errors, automation is the way forward to enhance customer satisfaction.
Financial Planning & Reporting
RPA bots can be leveraged to update budget forecasts, run validation checks based on historical data, leading to error-free reports and accurate financial planning.
Automation can be deployed to eliminate manual collection operations, thus streamlining the process and improving debt recovery time and efficiency.
Automation of time-consuming financial reconciliation processes helps eliminate errors and the risk of fraud. Automating general ledger banking & month-end reconciliation is a breeze, allowing the team to focus on more value-added tasks.
Due to the data-driven nature of the banking and financial sector, RPA undoubtedly helps them to capitalize and gain from growth opportunities, thus providing a competitive edge that’s responsible for the overall market growth.ⅲ
With digitization growing leaps and bounds, employees are embracing change, deploying workplace automation than ever before. The desire to contribute to more value-added work is higher, transforming the way some sectors like BFSI operate. What do banks and financial institutions require to transition to the new world of work? With high automation potential in the banking sector, can the new, evolved workforce become the “agents of change”?
Leading and shaping the future workplace
The workforce has evolved substantially; with the millennials entering the workforce, they are questioning obsolete ways of working, and women are leading the way.
For instance, an employee from my team resumed work after her maternity break. She wanted to adapt to the new world of work to bring about enterprise-wide transformation. She identified repetitive tasks that could be automated using bots and wished to focus on more value-added and complex responsibilities.
This is an example of how automation can augment and amplify human capabilities in the workplace. Undoubtedly, organizations have no choice but to adopt cutting-edge technology; the new generation is asking for it; they know where to use their grey matter and what can be left to the machines. With automation and AI technologies, this is not a pie-in-the-sky goal anymore!
It’s time we challenge the perception that there is a dearth of women pursuing tech. It’s time women participate in technological disruption in some of the most competitive industries by shattering the glass ceiling. In a world constantly shaken by new technologies, the very root of suffering is the inability to accept change and create promising avenues.
Women leaders indisputably spearheading change in these unprecedented times
We need more women leaders to revolutionize the way we work and think, laying the foundation for a new digital world. For instance, amid COVID-19, BFSI companies had to make a complete shift to the new concept of working from home, especially on such a large scale.ⅴ
In my conversation with one of the leading women’s network vendor, they pointed out that post-pandemic and switch to WFH, they have seen a significant rise in women interested in joining the workforce. Flexibility is here to stay, and it allows every organization to tap into the talent that otherwise would have been wasted. The leap that technology took in the last 12 months to facilitate the new ways of working is unprecedented, and the momentum is here to stay.
With the pandemic transforming the way we work, live, and think, women leaders in tech are capitalizing every bit on the opportunity to determine the best path forward by adopting innovation at scale.
“The pandemic can be an opportunity for change and catalyst for growth for women in fintech, as indicated in Deloitte’s research.” ⅵ As remote working is the de facto norm, women are making the best use of automation technologies to free up their staff to focus on higher-value tasks, in the process, ushering in transformative change.
Achieving gender diversity in technology areas will not only activate a flexible workforce but also help organizations, especially the BFSI sector, navigate these uncertain times. As mentioned in the example, overcoming resistance to change will ultimately transform the way a process functions. Faster technology adoption is the need of the hour; the question is, “How many things can we automate?”
Today, women leaders are questioning stereotypes, rising above the unconscious bias, and are being the catalysts of driving change in organizations. They are thinking of ways to eliminate mundane jobs such as updating excel sheets and collating data; instead, focusing their time on identifying opportunities for automation that will enable organizations to create digital experiences.
How can we make life much easier for our team and customers? How can we focus on tasks that provide intellectual stimulation? These are some of the pressing questions that we need to address, besides tackling the elephant in the room: How can we make the BFSI industry more inclusive and adaptive to change?
Disclaimer Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the respective institutions or funding agencies