The Robot Revolution Transforming the Finance Sector

  • Adriaan Kom, CCO at Visma | Onguard

  • 12.01.2022 09:45 am
  • #finance #data

Once brushed off as a science fiction trope, the ‘robot revolution’ is already here and transforming the way the world does business. For the finance sector, the rise of robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation (IA) is driving efficiency and saving time and money by performing cumbersome tasks previously assigned to teams of people. The 24/7 performance of robots – or ‘bots’ – ensures greater operational accuracy and faster turnaround, as well as increased accountability through automated audit logs. Consequently, financial institutions that fail to engage and incorporate this technology into their systems run the risk of falling behind their competitors.

The recent rush in the uptake of RPA is mirrored by the finance sector’s pivot towards big data. As data sets grow in scale and complexity, comprehensive business insights and analyses are proving invaluable to organisations, particularly in light of the rapid adoption of mobile technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT). When RPA and big data intersect, companies can build the foundations for lasting innovation, productivity growth and customer satisfaction.  

The rush towards RPA

Recent research data confirms there has been a significant uptake of RPA. Visma | Onguard’s 2021 Fintech Barometer survey reveals that 61% of financial businesses now either use RPA or are developing ideas on how to incorporate the technology into their operations. This represents a 15% rise from 2020 figures.

Clearly, automated data is playing a prominent role in reshaping financial business strategy, creating a range of opportunities for companies by improving the efficiency of processes, cutting expenditure and adding value to daily repetitive routines.

Intelligent automation (IA) technology has seen an even greater take-up in the sector, with 53% of those surveyed reporting the use of tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in their businesses. A great deal of this is likely to have been driven by the need for financial organisations to harness data-driven insights and use them to inform decision making and define business strategy. This is reflected in the fact that almost two-thirds (65%) of financial businesses are now either fully data-driven or have data supporting their key processes.

Significantly, close to half (47%) of those who took part in the survey said AI was the largest trend to make an impact across the financial sector, increasing from 36% in 2020 and 29% in 2019. In addition, AI also came out on top in terms of its perceived impact on order-to-cash processes - jumping from 36% in 2020 to 40% in 2021.

Contrary to past fears, robots are not taking our jobs – in fact, they’re empowering finance professionals. RPA and IA will ensure financial sector institutions are better able to utilise their employees and add value to their business operations, while also delegating mundane and repetitive tasks to automated machines.

Big data is now a big deal

44% of those surveyed identified big data as one of the top three trends to have positive effects on the financial sector, representing an increase from 36% in 2020. The collection and analysis of vast volumes of historic and existing data can inform the development of personalised products based on customers’ behaviours, likes and dislikes. It is therefore unsurprising that big data is fast becoming a key pillar driving change in customer engagement.

Through the application of analytical techniques, intuitive technologies and algorithms, companies can also share reporting and advanced metrics to optimise business processes, identify areas for improvement, and achieve defined goals or benchmarks. In an increasingly digitised and data-driven world, this technological trend is proving to be a valuable asset across the finance industry.    

As the importance of data becomes more widely known to the financial sector, it is playing a more prominent role in shaping business strategy. Indeed, only 8% of businesses are not planning on becoming fully data-driven at some point in the future - down by 5% compared to 2020 (13%).


Data-driven change is coming in 2022

The 2021 Fintech Barometer shows that many financial organisations are beginning to embrace the concepts of RPA and IA, even if they have yet to fully utilise it in their operations. A great deal of this uptake is because data is now driving processes and technology solutions, with big data among the most transformative trends across the sector.

Disruptive digital technologies are changing the way financial businesses interact with customers and their data. We expect to see emerging solutions, such as RPA and IA, become even more prevalent through 2022 and beyond. By leveraging the benefits of automation and the vast amounts of data generated in the sector, companies, specifically finance organisations, can make business processes more efficient and accurate, thereby gaining that all-important competitive edge.  


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