Making sense of automation in financial services

Robotic process automation, intelligent automation, intelligent data extraction... what should I do about it?

When you hear the word “bots,” your mind goes to physical robots; the kind of factory floor automation you see in a car plant. But it means something very different for financial services companies, and it can be the thing that helps you get the edge over your competitors.

Let's start with some quick definitions. Automation is a suite of technology options to complete tasks that would normally be completed by employees, who would now be able to focus on more complex tasks. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the entry level of automation. This is a simple software “bots” that can perform repetitive tasks quickly with minimal input. It’s often seen as a quick and cost effective way to start the automation journey. At the far end of the spectrum is either artificial intelligence or autonomous intelligence, which is when the software is able to make intelligent decisions while still complying with risk or controls. In between is intelligent automation and process orchestration, which is the next step in making smarter bots.


What is intelligent automation?

Intelligent automation (IA) consists of a broad category of technologies aimed at improving the functionality and interaction of bots to perform tasks. When people talk about IA, they really mean orchestrating a collection of automation tools to solve more sophisticated problems. IA can help institutions automate a wide range of tasks from simple rules-based activities to complex tasks such as data analysis and decision making.

For background on intelligent and robotic process automation, start here:
  • An overview of both RPA & IA technology implemented by financial institution, challenges met along the way, and how firms can overcome them.
  • The do’s and don’ts of implementing digital labor and defining what a successful transition to RPA technology should look like.
  • How to get the most value out of your RPA/IA project, and how you can create a business case to expand the project.
For a deeper dive into our latest thinking:
  • Smarter bots: PwC’s 2019 financial services intelligent automation survey features the latest findings from our 2019 intelligent automation survey, as well as issues that are affecting the industry today. Learn barriers to adoption our clients have found along the way and some practical next steps on your automation journey.
  • We, robot: Solving the RPA/human capital puzzle in financial services provides a peek into the relationship between human capital and intelligent automation. This article tackles the tough issues surrounding the fundamental changes in how a workforce can co-exist with automation technology. We discuss in detail how you can deploy RPA/IA without damaging your hard built human capital.
  • Who minds the robots? Financial services and the need to control RPA risks provides a discussion on risk and controls around RPA/IA technology and questions to keep in mind as you build out a set of controls to monitor the bots’ work.

The technology continues to evolve rapidly, and new ideas will emerge that none of us can predict. For example, we envision a world where IA technology takes a basic set of rote steps that currently need structured data and eliminate the pre-formatting that we still need to do today. These technologies could create automation that determines its own workflow and formats its own data sets to do the work that would take days in a matter of minutes.

How PwC can help

Any automation solution, no matter how prescient, is only as good as its execution. This is where PwC excels—by offering proven expertise in managing complex implementation programs from start to finish.

What PwC delivers:

  • Business and functional requirements
  • Design, development, testing and training of blockchain solutions
  • Integration and management of third party implementation partners
  • Rigorous PMO and proactive management of overall efforts

Learn more

Contact us

Kevin Kroen

Partner, Intelligent Automation Leader, PwC US

Anand Rao

Global AI Lead; US Innovation Lead, Emerging Technology Group, PwC US

Marie Carr

Insurance Consulting Principal, PwC US

Cathryn Marsh

Leader, Financial Services Institute, PwC US

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