Written by Rakesh Sangani (CEO of Proservartner)
Put simply, automation is doing more than enabling organisations to either make money or save money. By automating business processes, companies can improve customer experiences, create efficiencies and even improve employee satisfaction through the removal of mundane transactional activities from their jobs.
But ultimately, while the benefits from automation are broad, and there’s lots of expert commentary about the automated industries of the future, there is little research out there about what automation is doing to jobs right now.
That’s why we launched The Proservartner Automation Index, to provide a clear picture of the impact of automation today and its likely impact in the near term. Our report reviews the attitudes of businesses towards automation, where they see opportunities and what is driving them to automate – or not automate – particular processes.
And while we were able to paint a broad picture of automation in the UK economy, perhaps the most striking scene in the automation panorama came from the financial services industry.
FS and automation
The financial services industry is unique. It’s the only sector to take part in the Proservartner Inex and claim to have unanimously adopted automated processes – 100% of the industry chiefs surveyed said they have incorporated automation services in some form into their business over the last six months.
Recognising the benefits of automation is not exclusive to financial services by any means, in fact, 81% of industry leaders across various different sectors believe that automation will drive cost efficiency in their companies. Yet, financial services bosses appear to be best capitalising on a formidable combination of robotics process automation and artificial intelligence to boost global revenues and enhance customer satisfaction.
Looking more closely at customer satisfaction, financial services decision makers are making use of innovative chabot software, embracing online, instant customer service systems, using social media sites such as Twitter and creating their own dedicated applications to offer rapid responses to customer queries.
And whilst the industry is wooing customers with modern, dynamic means of communication, behind the scenes it also harnesses the cost-cutting power of digital HR processes, such as automated payroll, record keeping and data capture. Productivity is up and costs are down.
So, this is the industry, above all others, that is taking advantage of automation technology – and will likely continue to do so. With the meteoric rise of fintech start-ups like Monzo encapsulating this spirit of innovation, industry heads elsewhere are looking to financial services firms as automation trailblazers at the vanguard of the AI and automation movement.
The Brexit factor
But if we take a step back, and consider streamlined processes, boosted profits, and instantaneous customer service to represent the automation carrot; what does the stick look like? A dark, ominous, Brexit-shaped stick. At least, this is the image conjured by those who took part in our report.
One in four business leaders claim Brexit will increase their uptake of automation. This reflects considerable fears that the UK’s severance from the EU will inflict dramatic labour shortages in the country. Falling international student numbers and the migration of swathes of the skilled workforce to economic powerhouses within the EU threaten to create a deficit in skilled-workers, whilst tighter immigration laws look set to provoke a dramatic decrease in unskilled labour, with dramatic ramifications for companies’ staffing. As such, is it unreasonable to conclude that automation is being implemented as much out of precaution as innovation? A fail-safe for a post-Brexit Britain where the employees just aren’t available? Certainly, companies in the financial services sector are not waiting and are planning on increasing levels of automation.
Ultimately, however – whatever the reason for it, automation is here and here to stay. For those that want to remain competitive, automation does not represent a choice. Brexit or not, precautionary or innovatory, its adoption will be crucial to providing the dynamism and agility customers will demand in the future and it is essential for companies to remain streamlined and efficient in current and future uncertain economic waters.