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WHY ROBOTICS IS RESHAPING THE WORLD OF RPA AND IA

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By Adriaan Kom, CCO at Visma | Onguard

 

New and exciting technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation (IA) are making a significant impact on the financial sector, performing tasks that were once carried out by teams of people, saving time and money. Indeed, financial institutions such as banks, that don’t engage and incorporate this technology into their systems run the very serious risk of falling behind their competitors.

When it comes to RPA, there has been a recent rush in its uptake. In essence it is a software robot that mimics human activity by carrying out routine processes with the potential to reduce the number of operational errors and increase efficiency as robots or ‘bots’ operate 24/7. There is also a cost-saving element to this as the employees who would have once been in involved in a manual process can be replaced by a single programmed robot. Furthermore, there should invariably be an increase in customer satisfaction because of the speed of work, resulting in a faster turnaround and improved accountability as the audit logs of robot operations are readily available.

 

Research confirms the rush towards RPA

Recent research data from Visma | Onguard confirms there has been a significant uptake of RPA, which illustrates the point that data is playing a prominent role in reshaping the strategy for more financial businesses and creating a range of opportunities by improving the efficiency of processes, cutting expenditure and maximising daily repetitive routines.

Adriaan Kom

The 2021 Fintech Barometer survey showed 61% of organisations now either use RPA or are developing ideas on how to incorporate the technology into their businesses and represents a 15% increase compared to figures from 2020 (46%).

There has also been an increase in the use of IA tools, which expands on the functionality of RPA through supporting technology solutions such Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

However, it is worth remembering that this technology does not mean that in the future people will be completely replaced by machines and robots – far from it. It simply means that RPA will ensure financial sector institutions are better able to utilise their employees and add value to their business operations while delegating repetitive tasks to automated machines.

Significantly, close to half (47%) of those who took part in the survey said AI was the largest trend to make an impact across the financial sector, increasing from 36% in 2020 and 29% in 2019. In addition, AI also came out on top in terms of its perceived impact on order-to-cash processes – jumping from 36% in 2020 to 40% in 2021.

 

Increased IA take-up

However, IA technology has seen an even greater take-up in the sector, with 53% of those surveyed reporting the use of tools in their businesses. A great deal of this is likely to have been driven by the need for financial organisations to harness data-driven insights and use them to inform decision-making and define business strategy. This is reflected in the fact that almost two-thirds (65%) of financial businesses say they were either fully data-driven organisations or that data supports their processes.

Big data was also identified by 44% of those surveyed as one of the top three trends to have positive effects on the financial sector, representing an increase from 36% in 2020.

As the importance of data becomes more widely known to the financial sector, it will play a more prominent role in shaping strategy for more businesses. Just 8% of businesses reported that they were not planning on becoming fully data-driven at some point in the future, which was down by 5% compared to 2020 (13%).

 

Technology will support the data-driven dream in 2022

The 2021 Fintech Barometer shows that many financial organisations are beginning to embrace the concepts of RPA and IA, even if they have yet to fully utilise it in their operations. A great deal of this uptake is because data is now driving processes and technology solutions, with big data among the biggest trends across the sector.

As financial professionals work to further understand how they can apply and utilise data within their organisations, it is inevitable that we will continue to see an increase in the use of emerging solutions, such as RPA and IA, during 2022.  It’s clear that robotics and IA are playing a key role in helping financial businesses to improve their overall efficiency, and in an industry of constant change and innovation, embracing technology that can support modern day finance professionals to achieve their data-driven dreams will be crucial for providing them with that all important competitive edge.

 

Banking

Cloud technology in banking: Why adoption is on the rise

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Alpesh Tailor, Executive Director at digital transformation specialist GFT

 

The banking sector has never shied away from innovation, whether it is new products to improve customer savings habits or new ways of interacting with people and business, but embracing new technologies such as cloud has, until recently, been relatively slow. However, leading global financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have accelerated their adoption of cloud, which can provide insights for efficient technology transformation across the sector.

We conducted research to measure 21 medium-size and large banks’ sentiment and operations regarding cloud technology. Examining the relationship between cloud technology and banking professionals, our research provides an insight into the overall finance sector’s perception of cloud technology and how its application can improve banking procedures and efficiency.

 

Scale-up abilities

A significant trend showed that the way people use their finances and banking systems has changed, particularly when it comes to payments and transfers. Our research revealed that 86% of bankers have adopted cloud services to harness its virtually unlimited scalability, citing a definitive change in transaction behaviour as the main reason for moving to the cloud.

In the world of retail banking, buy-now-pay-later, open banking, and contactless payment systems have revolutionised the way people use their bank, making financial management easier and more efficient. However, despite these evolutions, high street banks are playing catch-up to the challenger banks who possess fewer legacy processes and, therefore, an easier migration to new technologies, such as the full utilisation of cloud and artificial intelligence.

The cloud provides a dependable, scalable, and flexible data system that allows traditional banks to modernise quickly and stay abreast of the innovations that ‘born-in-the-cloud’ challenger banks are bringing to the market. An increasingly popular way of doing this is by adopting a hybrid and multicloud approach.

Most organisations are considering diversifying their cloud technology, with 76% of bankers now agreeing with the importance of implementing multicloud systems in order to benefit from resilience and security improvements made by the main cloud providers. These cloud ‘hyperscalers’ also provide regular updates and continue to release exclusive new services and platforms as they continue to innovate.

 

Optimising costs

Our research indicates that cost optimisation is a primary reason that banks are looking toward the cloud for their future storage needs, with 81% of bankers confirming they have adopted cloud technology to save costs.

Installing and maintaining on-premise IT systems is lengthy and costly for financial institutions. When using the cloud, however, purchasing and installing hardware is no longer required as the cloud service provider hosts all the required infrastructure. The management of the hardware is included within this, reducing the overall cost of IT support further.

 

 Organisational inertia

Technological innovations are usually heralded for their ability to streamline operations, making them quicker and more secure. Our research illustrates that 62% of bankers believe organisational culture and inertia to be a key challenge within the sector. Besides being flexible for scalability and cost, adopting cloud technology can bolster organisational efficiency, since banks can spend fewer resources managing the relationship between trading volumes and payment infrastructure. Bankers acknowledge this opportunity, with 95% of organisations understanding that cloud technology can reduce time-to-market.

 

Overcoming misconceptions with cloud technology

Misconceptions usually exist around any emerging technology and our research found that this theme continues with cloud technology.

43% of the bankers we spoke to admitted that security concerns have impeded full cloud migration – a concern that has frequently been confirmed when speaking to financial services institutions. However, cloud providers invest heavily in the security of their cloud infrastructure which, as a result, makes it almost always safer than its on-premise, client-owned counterpart.

One aspect of adopting the cloud that continues to cause concern, is that which is commonly termed the ‘digital skills gap’. More than half of banks claim a lack of cloud-savvy employees internally has slowed down adoption. At GFT, we understand that this is a major issue for the adoption of cloud technology in all sectors, including banking, and have committed to training and encouraging young people to learn the required skills and enter the sector. We recently launched our Manchester Innovation Hub – a dedicated location to support the upskilling and growth of tech roles in the north.

Going forwards, cloud technology is the primary option for banks seeking to evolve and scale their business, whilst minimising risk, time and cost. Bankers recognise these benefits and the overall findings of our research suggest they will continue to grow their investment in cloud technology. Whilst evolving traditional legacy systems is very challenging, cloud technology continues to advance and we believe that over time it will become a powerful mainstay within the financial services industry.

 

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Technology

A Smarter World: What role will electronics play in 2022

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There has been a sharp increase in technology and devices designed to make our lives simpler, faster and more productive in recent years.

Industry 4.0 is taking the digital revolution of the late 1900s one step further, combining cyber-physical systems with the power of the internet of things (IoT) to automate computerised decision-making and enhance efficiency. As a result, intelligent technology has surpassed the simple tools and gadgets people enjoy using every day; it has become a driving force for innovation and problem-solving for businesses worldwide.

The first generation of ‘smart’ technology products provided enhanced connectivity, allowing people to stream video on smart televisions or communicate wirelessly between devices. But with the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), our devices do more than simply talk to each other; they collect and interpret data to inform user experience and automate processes that would typically require human guidance.

From watches to phones, building controls to medical equipment, we are heading towards a ‘smarter’ world at lightning speed. So, in 2022 and beyond, technology will continue to evolve and improve its capabilities to deliver personalised, mechanised solutions that will optimise functions and enhance our day-to-day lives.

 

How will smart tech change our way of life?

The pandemic has significantly impacted global technology trends, with lockdowns contributing to heightened activity within the consumer electronics industry.

The demand for games consoles, smart televisions and other entertainment devices led to an 18% increase in the global consumer electronics market (excluding North America) in the first half of 2021, reflecting pandemic-related behavioural changes and consumers’ growing expectations for premium electronics. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the public is also more conscious of their health and the limitations of our health services than ever before. Wearable technology such as smartwatches — which can remotely monitor and record physical health data — is, thus, becoming increasingly appealing.

As more and more businesses embrace remote working models, employees are enhancing their homes with innovative home technology, too. Demand for devices such as mobile stereo headsets and headphones spiked in the wake of lockdowns. Organisations are also embarking on digital transformation to secure online networks and optimise energy efficiency in modern offices.

The future of the electric vehicle market also looks bright. With governments facing global pressure to reduce carbon emissions, major automotive manufactures like Bentley, Volkswagen and Audi have pledged to cut fossil fuel cars from their product portfolios by 2030. And despite the pandemic-related semiconductor shortage that crippled the automotive industry, UK electric vehicle sales jumped 186% in 2020.

 

How will the electronics industry meet demands?

In a digital world, technology is embedded in everyday objects, and ubiquitous computing connects devices through continuous networks of sensors and servers — all of which must be carefully designed and produced by electronics manufacturers. As a result, the future of electrical engineering will depend on the industry’s ability to address the technical and logistical considerations for delivering these advanced systems and equipment.

From smart grids to intelligent lighting, IoT has the potential to revolutionise the way we live. With technology permeating so much of our lives already, local governments are investing in ‘smart cities’ that will harness data collected through the IoT and cloud-based technology to tackle social issues and improve urban life, sustainability and transport. However, the IoT will also be essential to developing new electronics.

Brexit, the pandemic and labour shortages have impacted supply chains and threatened to stunt the industry’s ability to keep up with ever-increasing demand. But embracing IoT can streamline processes, provide accurate real-time data to mitigate supply chain disruption and improve the overall quality of printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other core components within electronics. Plus, as sustainability is a core focus for businesses across sectors in 2022, developments in AI and ML will be crucial to ensuring systems are operating with the minimum energy output.

From remotely controlled wire cutters to industrial robotics performing monotonous tasks in factories, investing in robotics will also be crucial for electronics manufacturing services providers. While the industry focuses on training the next generation of engineers, adopting robotics will reduce the likelihood of human error that might affect manufacturers’ abilities to continue delivering high-quality electronics products at scale.

 

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