SSON: COVID-19 puts spotlight on end-to-end automation impacts

For a process cutting across the front, mid and back-office, the focus of automation was often on back office activities, but What COVID-19 has done is to put the spotlight on the fact that business impact is end-to-end, said Satish Nair, VP and business head at Infosys BPM, the business process management subsidiary of Infosys, in an interview with the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON).

The process is only as resilient as its weakest link, he noted, and there is an opportunity to take an end-to-end process view and leverage automation to link all three parts of the business. One of the key highlights is the ability to “change” and improve the speed to market.

Given a basic bot infrastructure, if process or part of it needs to change in accordance with new business conditions, it’s relatively easy to do. Bots can be programmed fast, compared to training people which requires unlearning and new learning.

A financial services client, for example, realized that the voice process was not able to support increased demand for customer service during COVID-19. This meant pushing voice calls to email, and leveraging an existing capability to respond digitally. In addition, where calls were required, customers could receive a call back instead of waiting in a queue. Given the automated environment, these changes were rapidly implemented with minimal impact on customer experience, in fact, the bank has decided to continue with the new operating model post-COVID.

Where automation exists, this can be done quickly – even in hours. But without a basic automated environment it’s not possible. This is where the digital services model of human + bot stands out and provides inherent resiliency.

A recent Bloomberg article highlighted the growth of Nordic bots in an age of COVID as the robots advising investors at the biggest banks just had their best quarter since being switched on. Tanja Eronen, co-head of investment products at Nordea’s wealth unit in Helsinki, told Bloomberg that Nordea’s robot adviser, dubbed Nora, played a crucial role in helping the bank through the crisis. It also exposed “an interesting development” in client behavior, she said.

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