TAKE THE ROBOT OUT OF THE HUMAN
Two professors at the London School of Economics, Mary Lacity and Leslie Willcocks, have written about ‘taking the robot out of the human’ in the service industry.
Apply this to the financial industry, and how increased regulation and market demand has led to asset managers handling huge volumes of data. Indeed, since the 2008 financial crash, a talented mind has inadvertently become ensnared in a spider’s web of compliance tasks. One could argue that using RPA for more manual, repetitive tasks has the distinct potential to enable skilled workers to get back to doing more of what they were hired to do.
Just like electricity was for the second industrial revolution, RPA, when applied to workflow efficiency, will encourage greater innovation. Robots ensure consistency and accuracy. They don’t eat or drink or gossip at the water cooler. They work 24/7 and they can increase productivity on repetitive tasks anywhere from three to six times. Robots, in other words, act as ‘enablers’ for asset managers to improve their business. Robotics also holds several distinct advantages over the trend of outsourcing to low-cost labour centres. It avoids the operational headaches of managing communication, security, different cultures, time zones. It also removes the compliance overhead of working with offshore labour such as obtaining regulatory approval. And as globalisation has enabled working with them, it has also become a catalyst for economic growth in these areas. Olivier Scalabre in a recent TED Talk on robotics pointed out that in the coming years manufacturing costs in China will be at par with the U.S. Ultimately, robotics will enable the creation of more exciting roles within financial services, as people free themselves from the shackles of repetitive tasks and are able to actually leverage the skills that got them the job in the first place: taking the robot out of the human.
ENGAGING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Robots, therefore, help directly address the issue of keeping staff happy, and morale high. One of the biggest challenges at fund management groups is retaining talent. If people feel disillusioned with their job, they will look elsewhere. A manager who spends their time reviewing and checking the same reports, week after week, is hardly going to feel inspired.
Equally, Millennials—that key demographic who grew up with the Internet—want to feel empowered in their jobs. Using RPA will help the financial industry’s Millennial workforce engage more in high-level tasks such as data analysis, strategic planning, marketing initiatives and ways to diversify revenue streams. In short, companies who embrace this will be viewed as the kind of progressive businesses that Millennials aspire to work for.
RPA holds the potential to transform businesses, assuming the role of advanced assistant to the human. In doing so, it will free up staff to collaborate more closely and engage in Blue Sky thinking. And this is precisely the key to driving business growth.