The Hyperautomation Playbook: C‑Suite Buy‑in, Cultural Change, and End-To-End Process Automation
A pragmatic and insightful exploration of low-code development and the impact of business process automation trends in the financial services industry.
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From hyperautomation to the remote-work revolution, the post-COVID world is changing at blazing speed and organizations everywhere are struggling to keep up.
In the financial services industry, for example, the largest wealth and asset managers are struggling to keep a lid on rising operating costs amid fast-changing regulations and customer expectations. The volatility is like a pressure cooker that’s driving demand for business process automation in an industry traditionally slow to embrace digital.
As a sidebar:
- Wealth management is the professional work of investing and growing assets while minimizing risk and preserving wealth.
- The industry represents an estimated $89 trillion in assets under management.
- More than half of these assets belong to institutional investors like banks and funds. The rest belongs to smaller organizations or individuals.
Enter: Gurdeep Batra, Business Transformation and Technology Consulting Leader for Wealth and Asset Management at consulting giant EY. With over 20 years of experience in global financial services across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Batra is fighting the good fight against accidental automation. In fact, if Batra was a superhero, his superpower would be helping clients get the most out of their hyperautomation journey.
Yes, it’s hard to navigate the massive disruption of COVID-19, but Batra urges us to look forward rather than back, to automate our way to progress even in the gloomiest of times. No, business automation stories aren’t always heroic, but Batra reminds us that C-suite buy-in, cultural change, and end-to-end process automation repeatedly wins the day. Enough said. It's time to roll the tape on the first episode of this two-part blog: The Hyperautomation Playbook: C-suite Buy-in, Cultural Change, and end-to-end Process Automation.
Appian: So, let's start out with you telling our readers about yourself and what you do at EY. Let's start there.
Gurdeep: I sit in a consulting service line (at EY) that focuses on financial services. I’m responsible for what we call the wealth and asset management sector. And I primarily focus on business transformation and technology consulting in the financial services including wealth management, asset management, hedge funds, etc., basically anything to do with financial securities, capital markets and the like.
Appian: Okay, so talk a little bit about how you work with Appian in terms of the consulting you do with clients. What kinds of use cases are typical of how you work with Appian to help your asset and wealth management clients?
Gurdeep: Absolutely. Think about the disruption the asset management industry has experienced over the last 12 months.
"And, you know, we can talk at length about COVID-19 and how the pandemic has caused a lot of volatility in the markets. But the pandemic has put tons of pressure on the legacy asset management systems of our clients."
Appian: How, in what ways?
Gurdeep: Historically, these systems depended on lots of manual and paper-based processing. There was a lot of focus on human interactions. There was also tremendous pressure to go digital to cope up with all of the disruptions that came with the COVID crisis. So, for example, customer service modernization became a high priority item for clients. The thing is, if you’re a senior executive, and you want to thrive in a crisis, you need to be able to adapt quickly.
The same is true of the automation technology behind your financial management systems. So, when I think about the Appian low-code automation platform, I think about the phenomenal job it’s done in helping us bring together the broad ecosystem of hyperautomation tools and capabilities to address our clients’ challenges.
Appian: Can you give some examples of that?
Gurdeep: Appian allows us to provide our clients with everything from business process management (BPM) capability to low-code development. Which means our clients don’t have to go through the whole life cycle of a traditional software development process before making changes to their business processes.
"Low-code allows us to help our clients quickly move in and look at acquisitions and integrate new and existing capabilities and systems in a seamless way through BPM."
On top of that, a low-code platform gives us the capability to keep up with the fast-moving convergence of intelligent automation and BPM.
Appian: So, what are the biggest drivers for your clients, what are their top priorities in the post-COVID economy?
Gurdeep: I’d say it’s customer experience, cost optimization, and mitigating risk. So, this whole automation ecosystem combined with low-code and BPM has helped our clients hit the mark with their cost optimization and digital transformation goals. But if I had to identify the number one priority of our clients, I would say it’s to improve customer experience. Reducing costs and mitigating risks are important but keeping customers happy is at the top of our clients’ wish list.
Appian: So, cost savings is not the biggest driver.
Gurdeep: No. It’s important but when I talk to boards and C-suite execs, they consistently prioritize improving customer experience and managing operational risk over cost.
Appian: But there are still a lot of companies out there, a lot of senior executives who hesitate to double down on their automation investment. Many of these companies are stuck in the pilot phase of automating critical business processes. So, how do you deal with that kind of lack of urgency at the senior exec level. What's your playbook for that?
Gurdeep: At a strategic level, scaling automation across the organization is essential. But when you’re talking to a line manager, he or she may think only about automating specific functions.
"But if you’re a senior exec, you have to think about automation in the context of meeting your organization’s strategic business priorities. If your automation game plan is not aligned with that, you’ll come up short or create a lot of confusion."
I think it’s essential to think about automation in the context of the kind of firm you're trying to be in the marketplace. Then, think about your hyperautomation journey from both an operations and technology perspective. Think about it as a primary driver for achieving your business objectives, and support that with two or three key themes.
Appian: Could you elaborate on that? What do you mean by themes?
Gurdeep: So, for example, your first theme should be to win buy-in from top management. This is critical to winning support from the top of the organization. But be clear that your automation strategy is not about reducing your workforce but improving business processes across the entire organization.
Appian: I want to revisit something you said earlier. You talked about “multiplying the power of automation.” Can you break that down for me, what does that mean?
Batra: If you’re in financial services, for example, think about combining technologies such as intelligent document processing, robotic process automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve your account set-up and trading and regulatory compliance. If you’re required to do financial reporting, use this hyperautomation approach to optimize the efficiency and accuracy of your reporting. And last, but not least, there is a cultural aspect to embracing automation. So, think about hyperautomation as a powerful workforce multiplier. This goes to cultural change management, which is extremely important because if you don't do it, you’ll never succeed at implementing a hyperautomation strategy.
Appian: You mentioned combining technologies. But that can be a problem because there are so many technologies to choose from. What advice do you have for senior execs who are trying to figure out which technology is right for them? And secondly, how do you go about selecting the best use case to start with in terms of embracing hyperautomation? What are your thoughts on that?
Batra: Yeah, that's a great question. Philosophically, I think the answer to both questions fall into a single bucket.
"You have to look at hyperautomation in a comprehensive way. If you think about process automation, you typically think about bots and RPA. But I think a better way to think about hyperautomation is to think about it as a way to add intelligence to automation instead."
For example, think about hyperautomation as a way to visualize business process management with technologies such as optical character recognition, natural language processing and machine learning. Hyperautomation allows you to combine all of these technologies to truly reap the benefits of automation. That’s what I mean by approaching automation in a comprehensive way. It’s the best way to leverage automation to stay ahead of the competition.
Appian: And what about the problem of choosing the right use-case in the first place? What tips do you have for getting that right?
Batra: When you think about use cases and where to start, think about client onboarding and how you used to open an account back in the day, and how many documents you had to manually fill out. Today, because of automation, the process is easier. Low-code automation tools allow you to automate these kinds of processes, so you can digitally interact with your clients, validate their identity, automatically populate content for them, open the account, and move money into it in a matter of minutes instead of days. That’s the power of automation.
Appian: So, client onboarding is a good place to start.
Batra: Yes, absolutely. So, if you’re in an industry that has a tremendous amount of documentation that is manually completed and processed, then you need a hyperautomation strategy. If you’re in an industry that has lots of compliance checks, where you have to validate your activities against existing compliance rules, where violations can cost tens of millions of dollars in penalties and fines, you should probably take a comprehensive look at automating your business processes.
Appian: What other use-cases are a good fit for hyperautomation?
Batra: I think the contact center is another good place to start. If you operate a large contact center and your customer needs to get an issue resolved, she may contact you via snail mail, text, email, or another digital platform.
"Having the ability to look at these customer interactions in different channels in a seamless way gives you access to data that allows you to solve a customer’s problem before ending a call, for example. Automating contact center processes improves the client experience."
I know of clients who have achieved as much as 10x automation by leveraging hyperautomation tools like the Appian Low-code Platform.
Appian: I've got just two more questions, but I want to stay with this automation theme. You've touched on the explosion of automation technology. But I want you to look over the horizon of the next decade and talk about how this trend will shape the future of financial services?
Batra: Yeah, that's a great question. The evolution of technology is all about innovation. You have to be able to support an innovation agenda backed by a solid foundation of automation. The same is true of financial services firms that want to stay relevant to their clients.
"You can only stay relevant by innovating yourself. Otherwise, your value proposition will only have marginal value to your clients. You have to get serious about evolving your business processes from automation to hyperautomation. Otherwise, you will not be able to compete."
PS: To learn more about hyperautomation, check out the Hyperautomation book, a collection of expert essays on low-code development and the future of business automation.
Published at DZone with permission of Roland Alston, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
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