RPA proving its transformational value at Deutsche Bank

Robotic process automation has improved productivity and quality at Deutsche Bank. Robots are intended to augment the bank’s workforce, making employees happier and more efficient.

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His approach instead has been to start with small, foundational RPA projects to create clear uses cases for automation. “Otherwise,” Mazboudi warns, “you’ll end up with a cottage industry of automation whereby you don’t have economies of scale. It’s very challenging.” CIOs looking for the best place to start with RPA should “follow the money,” Mazboudi says. “Ensure the use case has high return potential and commitment from the business area represented.”

RPA plus cognitive computing plus advanced analytics plus workforce orchestration

Mazboudi also warns against pursuing RPA as a standalone solution. “When we talk about RPA, it’s never RPA by itself. That’s a dead end,” he says. “Rules-based automation is short lived; that’s not where the value proposition is. It’s in RPA plus cognitive computing plus advanced analytics plus workforce orchestration.” If digital transformation is the end goal, RPA alone won’t get any company there. But it’s an enabler to achieve the level of efficiency in operations, says Mazboudi.

[ Related: Robotic process automation is killer app for cognitive computing ]

Deutsche Bank is particularly interested in RPA tools that incorporate cognitive capabilities and has been working with vendors like WorkFusion in this area. RPA can automate tasks based on rules, but machine learning can tackle more nuanced work like recognizing the type of document that comes in or scanning unstructured data for specific information. RPA alone can make lower-level employees more efficient. RPA plus cognitive computing can free up subject matter experts to focus on higher value activities. The next step is taking the knowledge encoded in those algorithms and making it available to employees or customers via intelligent assistants. “That’s powerful,” he says. “That’s higher in value than just RPA.”

Deutsche Bank has moved beyond experimentation and analysis to the early stages of RPA implementation. “It took a while to get our heads around the value proposition and put that in context of what need to achieve,” Mazboudi says. “It’s a new concept that, at first glance, appears to be disruptive. It takes some time to understand how best to leverage the technology.” Education and demos— part of the charter of the lab—have been critical in moving forward.

Mazboudi says RPA technology itself is proven; now is the time for IT leaders to figure out how best to deploy it. “The technology is real. You don’t have to spend too much time on experimentation,” he advises. “Find a valuable use case and pursue it.” But don’t expect RPA to solve everything, Mazboudi adds. “[CIOs should] use automation as another weapon in the arsenal along with tighter integration, better architecture, new workflow capabilities, upgraded or new software and outsourcing.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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