Why your credit union needs to understand RPA and AI

Financial institutions are on course to accumulate “nine times more unstructured data than structured data by about 2020.” Applications for accounts and loans continue to require more verification than ever before. Hundreds or even thousands of data points for a single credit union member multiplied by thousands of members equals a massive amount of information.

An enterprise content management (ECM) system is vital to organizing and managing all of this information. But painstakingly slow and error-prone work is still required to gather much of it. This gap is often where robotic process automation (RPA) solutions come in.

Credit unions need to be aware of the current and developing technologies that could help them continue to grow and adapt. But what is RPA, other than an industry buzzword? And is AI the same thing? Read on to find out.

What is IA?

RPA and AI are both technologies within intelligent automation (IA). Deloitte defines IA as the combination of automation and artificial intelligence. At its most basic, IA takes a “doing” role, focusing on automating tasks. At its most complex, IA takes a “thinking” role, focusing on data-driven work that requires deduction and analysis. Check out the IA continuum graphic in this article.

What is RPA?

Have you ever heard the term “swivel chair automation”? RPA is the deployment of software robots to significantly reduce the time, resources and errors associated with tasks that require workers to “swivel” in their chairs when changing focus between screens, systems and third party information sources, like websites.

RPA can be applied to many processes in financial institutions where employees do repetitive, relatively simple tasks that don’t require analysis to complete. While the discussion around workplace automation does include some concern about the elimination of jobs, many employees feel that removing these burdensome, error-prone manual tasks actually provides opportunities to expand their skills and take on new responsibilities. In fact, 80 percent of workers feel that automation will create positive change.

Businesses have a lot to consider when looking at adding an RPA solution. Besides reallocating workers to higher value tasks, it’s also important to evaluate process efficiency on its most basic level – before adding software robots to the mix. A recent blog post from The Financial Brand notes that RPA “will not magically resolve data quality issues or existing platform limitations. If a process is fundamentally flawed or broken, and this is converted from human-owned to robot-owned, the underlying data quality or connectivity issues that existed in the old world will also exist in the new.”

What is AI?

RPA is obviously on the “doing” end of the IA scale. Artificial intelligence (AI), on the other hand, is all about teaching computers to think and analyze while performing tasks, like humans. AI technologies may include speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving capabilities.

What can AI do for financial institutions? Consider these examples:

  • Chat-bots are being used for customer engagement. With AI capabilities, these bots can answer customer questions and make recommendations.
  • Analyst-bots can detect fraud and help manage risk by analyzing portfolios and transactions much faster and more accurately than humans.
  • Compliance-bots keep track of laws and regulations in real time, ensuring that financial institutions comply.

What should credit unions do now?

The unstructured data explosion is happening – but there’s no need to panic. Credit unions should follow these steps:

  • Evaluate current processes for potential improvements at a base level – before automating any tasks.
  • Digitize documentation and speed processes by implementing an ECM system, such as OnBase by Hyland, that integrates with a core banking system and provides intelligent capture and electronic workflow.
  • Research IA solutions, including RPA and AI, and where those solutions could quickly make the most impact.

Ready to explore RPA further? Post a comment to start a conversation.

* This blog post was originally published on CUInsight.com.

Rick Hiles

Rick Hiles

Rick Hiles is a team lead in Hyland’s Financial Services group. A graduate of Miami University, Rick has worked for Hyland since 2012.

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