In the current era of digital transformation, clients are increasingly requesting for automation solutions within banking processes. In addition to robotics process automation (RPA), very often clients are interested in machine learning (ML), although what this trending technology can do or how it may be applied is not always clear.
In this blog, I’ll share how the use of RPA in conjunction with ML has the potential to drastically improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. But first of all, it is important to distinguish the key benefits of the two technologies.
The key benefits of RPA and ML
RPA is a technology that enables the automation of IT applications and highly manual, repetitive processes. Key benefits include faster processes, reduced risks and lower compliance costs.
Machine learning meanwhile, is defined as "the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn by its own without being explicitly programmed." (Arthur Samuel, 1959)
Personally, I like to think of ML as one of the branches of artificial intelligence (AI) that super-charges mathematical modelling with computational power.
In practice, ML provides data analysts with a set of models that can be applied to perform forecasting, identify hidden trends, and to teach machines to think the way individuals react.
Clearly, both robotics and machine learning have the potential to provide great advantages to organisations. Nonetheless, they are substantially different technologies. While robots can improve the speed and efficiency of a process, the standalone software does not currently have the ability to evaluate the process and make cognitive decisions.
However, if machine learning is successfully integrated in automation software, robotics will become more dynamic. For example, robots utilised for KYC, client/data management and other functions across front and middle office, will be capable of performing more intelligent actions, such as eliminating duplicate entries or solving unknown system exceptions in the process. Robots on the other hand, can conduct trading activity checks which will be capable of dealing with unpredicted scenarios and flagging clients to management; helping businesses to further bring cost down and efficiency up.
It is also important to point out that the integration of ML and RPA is a two-way improvement strategy. Throughout the automation process, robots are exposed to huge amounts of data. Should the robots be programmed to store and filter useful data, this feature could be leveraged by machine learning to train its forecasting models continuously.
What is already available?
Both automation and machine learning are very fast-growing markets.
Many vendors such as Blue Prism, UIPath and Automation Anywhere have developed a robust ecosystem, with some implementing their own powerful machine learning algorithms.
For example, robots are now capable of capturing previously unidentifiable data like signatures, detecting images on screen in under 100 milliseconds and automating complex applications, while machine learning is used for optimising image recognition.
Furthermore, organisations are becoming more open, allowing their products and technologies to be better integrated and share data. This trend has led RPA vendors to partner with numerous AI companies including Data Robot, Google Cloud, Microsoft and many others. For example, Blue Prism eliminates vendor lock-in by providing its clients with access to different AI technologies via an alliance programme aimed at building an ecosystem for intelligent automation.
A positive future with AI
Frequently, we hear 'influencers' and politicians talking about AI as a Terminator-like threat.
However, there is an argument to be made that as technology advances, machine learning will become safer and more easily managed. This is particularly true in scenarios where technology and humans collaborate, enabling RPA to perform activities that involve human judgement. For instance, Automation Anywhere has recently released the first mobile app that enables management to monitor and control robots live, securely and remotely.
It is clear that AI will transform our society, and if implemented correctly, RPA and ML will together empower organisations to revolutionise the way they operate. It’s just a matter of time before machines start developing truly powerful insights from everyday business processes.
Contact us to find out how we're working with businesses to improve their efficiency and reduce costs through RPA and ML.