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How Do You Define Automation Excellence in Fintech?

Appian Automation Maturity Index launches, with research into defining automation excellence in the financial services industry.

What separates automation “leaders” from “laggards” in financial services? Appian, the low-code automation platform, is attempting to answer this question with the launch of its own Index. This index is an interactive online benchmarking tool designed to offer powerful peer insights against a survey of 500 global C-level executives, and help financial services firms assess their progress towards automation excellence.

Those initial survey results have helped to define 10 distinct dimensions of automation excellence. By taking the interactive online benchmarking tool, financial services firms can gauge their progress against each dimension, as well as making comparisons by country, sub-industry, and organisation size.

Together, the benchmarking tool and accompanying research aim to answer the critical questions: “What does mature automation mean for a modern financial services company? What defines the companies that have gained significant business benefits from automation, and those that have not?”

Conducted in partnership with Longitude, a Financial Times company, the first wave of study results reveals:

  • Financial institutions can be categorised into “Leaders” (respondents who report using innovative or sophisticated automation), “Laggards” (who say most of their automation fails to add value), and the “Mainstream” (who fall somewhere in between, making up 65% of the sample).
  • 98% of Leaders in banking report significant cost savings from their automation investments, compared to just 7% of Laggards.
  • 98% of Leaders have gained a “significant competitive edge” from their efforts, compared to only 6% of Laggards.
  • There is no single route to excellence in this area. Instead, leading firms demonstrate an ability to seamlessly integrate people, AI, RPA, workflows, databases and systems. Orchestration across a unified workflow lies behind most of the benefits to customers and employees seen in the survey, alongside supporting risk management, compliance, change management, and business strategy.

Mike Heffner, Vice President – Solutions and Industry Go To Market at Appian, notes: “There’s a strong correlation in the research data between organisation size and automation maturity. The world’s largest financial services are, understandably, leading the charge, and the gains they make can help inform the whole industry. But size isn’t the whole story. We’re seeing a huge gap between Leaders and Laggards, as well as a significant majority who fall into the Mainstream across industry sub-categories.”

Part one of the research findings, “The Best Versus the Rest”, is available now. The next two chapters of the research findings, exploring the impact of automation on employees and customers, and what the future holds for these Leaders, will be published later this month.

Among the first 500 C-level respondents were five who provided in-depth insight into their experiences. Commenting as a Leader using low-code automation for speed, Giovanni Gallucci, Head of Process Automation at ICCREA Cooperative Banking Group said: “We generated what I call a ‘wow effect’ — the business was amazed that we could release a change within a week. They could not believe it, because they were used to a different way. The time to market we can now achieve has been truly disruptive internally and created great enthusiasm.”

“The automation of customer journeys can help deliver the benefits customers are looking for, such as mobile services, instant credit decisions, and quicker delivery of services,” adds Stuart Duncan, Partner at NextWave Consulting and former Managing Director at Barclays.

Heffner concludes: “Understanding Leaders’ automation strategies and investments shines a light for the rest of the industry on how to use automation to improve the customer and employee experience, drive revenue and cost savings, and react to regulatory and market changes at speed. I’m excited to launch this first wave of results, and to invite others in the market to see how they compare through the benchmarking tool.”


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