With the Covid-19 pandemic ramping up digital transformation across several industries, the financial services sector has seen a particular uptake. Automated processes have become a crucial part of business operations, and organisations need to keep up in order to better serve their customers.
Vijay Kurkal serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Resolve where he oversees the strategic growth of the company as it helps maximise the potential of AIOps and IT automation in enterprises around the world. Vijay has a long history in the tech industry, having spent the last twenty years working with numerous software and hardware companies that have run the gamut from mainframe to bleeding-edge, emerging tech.
Here he shares his thoughts on why Financial Services firms should consider Centres of Excellence to start their automation journey.
Succeeding in the financial sector over the past year has relied heavily on IT infrastructure given the dramatic shift to digital channels and a predominantly remote workforce. With 73% of UK consumers now regularly using online banking applications, rapid digital transformation has become a crucial component of business operations. As overstretched IT professionals attempt to keep up, automation is essential to helping them meet the ever-growing demands they face.
While there is increasing recognition that automation helps teams do more with less, many organisations are still early in their automation journeys. In order to maximise value from automation, financial services firms must advance their automation maturity and think holistically about where automation can be implemented across their organisation. They must move beyond task-based automation to consider more creative, complex applications of automation that can solve big business challenges, accelerate transformation, and drive innovation. As automation shifts from a tactical technology to a strategic enabler, organisations are increasingly creating Automation Centres of Excellence (CoE) to focus their initiatives and ensure success.
Defining a Centre of Excellence
The concept of a Centre of Excellence isn’t unique to automation. In fact, CoEs exist across many functions. Typically, these centres are comprised of a cross-disciplinary team focused on the success of a specific set of technologies. By bringing together specialists from diverse areas of the business, the CoE benefits from a variety of viewpoints and expertise.
CoEs are responsible for developing the overall strategy and framework for rolling out automation and then scaling it across the organisation. Their mission is to leverage automation to achieve better outcomes and benefit the business as a whole by focusing on the effective implementation and innovative applications of the technology.
Automation CoEs are also inherently involved in optimising and selecting the right processes to automate. By first thinking collaboratively about how best to improve existing workflows, they can bake automation into better processes from the start.
For businesses with legacy, outdated technology, as big banks oftentimes have, an automation CoE can be transformative – both mitigating the overhead of day-to-day management while also accelerating migration to a more modern tech stack. As digital-first challenger banks continue to gain market share – having grown from 60 to 256 between 2018 and 2021 – legacy banks and financial services firms must invest in the latest technology tools to remain competitive.
Optimising outcomes with data
To ensure ongoing executive sponsorship and investments in automation, it is vital that the CoE measures the outcomes of automation and clearly articulates the ROI to stakeholders. A CoE should strategically prioritise automation initiatives. While automation will always be a long-term project, quick wins can demonstrate short-term benefits and bolster support early on. Employing a crawl-walk-run approach allows decision-makers to see clear benefits out of the gates, so they can better visualise the longer-term potential.
Over time, accurately measuring the impact of each automated process fuels a data-driven approach to selecting new automations to deploy. By reviewing the impact of similar automation, the CoE can forecast projected gains across a variety of factors, from cost and time savings to customer satisfaction. Additionally, by honing their scoping skills, the CoE can weigh the benefits of automation candidates against the effort required to build it.
Fostering a culture of collaboration
It is not often that staff come together from multiple business functions to ideate on improving a specific area, yet this is often where the magic happens. The CoE creates a melting pot of different perspectives from a diverse group of people to cultivate ideas that no single member would have fathomed alone.
Collaboration also helps seed the cultural shift that is necessary for automation to succeed. While some employees may fear that automation will replace jobs, the reality is that budgets have prevented IT teams from expanding for some time, and automation frees people up to focus on problems that require critical thinking and innovation. Automation ambassadors in different departments can help communicate this message as they are living proof of it. When people across the business fully understand how automation can positively impact them, a flywheel effect ensues and fosters new ideas for automation.
There is no stopping the avalanche of automation within the finance sector. FS firms can maximise the invaluable benefits of this technology for the whole organisation with an Automation Centre of Excellence. As an entity that demonstrates clear ROI and many other measurable outcomes, creating a CoE should be a no brainer for any FS business looking to strengthen its future standing by adopting intelligent IT automation.