Automation in the BFSI sector amid COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and the “defining global health crisis of our time.” What started as a suspected variation of the flu, soon took down entire economies, forcing the world to go into a state of recession. With measures such as social distancing and quarantine becoming mandatory, organizations across sectors were compelled to shut down their offices and ask employees to work from home temporarily.

Manish Bharti
Manish Bharti, President – India and SAARC, UiPath.

While the concept of working from home is fairly common in industries such as information technology, it is not widely practiced in the Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) industries. Therefore, BFSI companies have had to make a complete shift to this new concept of working from home, especially on such a large scale.

The transition has had some challenges. With most customers engaging remotely with the bank, there has been an upswing in the number of queries as they make the move to a self-service model.

Employees are still grappling with the changed expectations, given that they have little training and -experience to bank on. Also, financial institutions have large amounts of sensitive data that employees need to access in the course of their work. How can the bank ensure secure access to this data customer service agents, operations processing agents, and analysts while they work remotely?

In such circumstances, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has a huge role to play in ensuring robust Business Continuity Plans (BCP) for financial organizations to ensure productivity and efficient functioning. Here are some ways in which RPA can help:

Monitoring Remote Employees

While employees work remotely, there is a large security risk that presents itself. The problems of unsecured networks, private data being visible to everyone in the vicinity of the employee, and misuse of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can be especially challenging. These issues can result in reputational risk and increase compliance costs for an organization. Bots can help here. They can be used to mask sensitive data, or even remove it completely, ensuring data privacy. Bots can also monitor employee’s screens in real-time and recognize when sensitive information is being accessed by the user.

Addressing Agent Shortage

The ever-changing pandemic scenario has left customers worrying about their finances. This has resulted in an increase in the number of queries regarding claims, benefits withdrawals, retrials, deferrals, and tax filing extensions. Call centers are therefore flooded with calls. However, with fewer agents available to answer the queries, there is overburdening of staff and increased wait times for query resolution.  Bots can assist agents with data extraction, system entries, request creation, and preparing report extracts. This will not only lower the workload for agents but also drastically cut down the query resolution time.

Automating Claims Processing

With higher mortality rates, travel disruptions and factory shut-downs becoming commonplace, insurers have been flooded with claims and inquiries on all types of offerings. This includes large commercial and specialty insurance, as well as life, benefits, health and event insurance. Automation can help manage the workload, secure data, and reduce wait-time for the organization by processing spikes, launching chatbots, automating submissions, and undertaking coverage validation and fraud analysis.

Operational Efficiency and Cost Takeout

With revenue and margin pressures along with potential mergers and acquisitions (M&A), operational efficiency will become a lead business imperative. Operational costs will have to be cut forcing a re-prioritization of investments from long-cycle large scale transformation to incremental low-cost automation programs that deliver faster results. This issue can be resolved by enabling end-to-end attended automation for long-running processes, citizen-led automation, allowing for cost-cutting through task and process mining to identify automation opportunities.

While these are just a few ways that automation can help the BFSI industry work around the current situation through automation, and new use cases are being discovered regularly. By investing in process automation early on, financial institutions will be able to incorporate it into their BCP from the start and save time and costs by ensuring rapid, error-free results during these unpredictable times and even in the future.

Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of Manish Bharti, President – India and SAARC, UiPath.

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