April 2020

How To Make Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) A Reality

By Dave Hannibal, Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances. 

Do you ever feel like you cannot keep up with the growing amounts of data around you? Are you concerned that data, rather than making things easier, is causing you to lose control? Are you struggling to understand and generate insight from your data?

Well “good news”, so is everyone else. Data is growing. Fast. Much faster than we can keep up with. In a recent Data Age 2025 report, IDC predicts that “worldwide data creation will grow to an enormous 175 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025. That’s ten times the amount of data produced in 2017”.

The current ways of dealing with data, including using people to handle many of the challenges, are clearly not going to work. Particularly in the current environment when nearly every organisation has Business Continuity Plans in place. We need to get out of the way. But how do we do that?

Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)

McKinsey defines IPA as “a suite of business-process improvements and next-generation tools that assists the knowledge worker by removing repetitive, replicable, and routine tasks.” In terms of automating data processes specifically, this involves:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Achieving interoperability of systems
  • Process orchestration

While it’s clear that financial institutions have been good at automating certain parts of their data flows – particularly involving front office systems – there is still a large amount of manual, repetitive work going on.

Technology challenges

At Duco we have a key role to play in IPA and spend a considerable amount of time with our clients and prospects on this. A couple of themes continue to crop up in conversations.

Firstly, automating repetitive processes is high on the agenda. In the current environment, firms are experiencing considerable internal cost pressures. They need to employ staff on high-value tasks not manual data work, and they also need to position themselves to handle growing amounts of data without losing control, governance, quality, or integrity.

However, most organisations still have data processes that are not being run with any integrity or quality checks – let alone automation. Of the organisations that do run checks consistently, there are still gaps when it comes to exceptions management around their data or the automated processes.

The issue is a technological one. Firms are too often reliant on inflexible legacy point solutions that require significant data transformation projects to get the data in – or out of – the system. Spinning up new automated data processes on these solutions can take weeks or even months, meaning that firms need to resort to repetitive manual work to bridge the gap. As data increases both in quantity and complexity, these manual processes proliferate, to a point where they become a huge and growing cost centre.

A new approach

To break this cycle, organisations need to start investing in new technology that can onboard new processes fast, and works seamlessly with upstream and downstream systems. For example, at Duco we have made it our mission to make managing data easy, and offer a data integrity and reconciliation solution with the following features:

  • Data agnostic ingestion – so you can start working with your data immediately without having to kick off a long data transformation project
  • Machine learning-enabled data matching – to eliminate repetitive manual reconciliation and other matching tasks
  • Natural Rule Language (NRL) – enabling users to transform data and set up automated exception management workflows using English sentences, without the need for major projects or code
  • System interoperability – via an API and Hadoop-based Data Platform for easy connectivity to downstream systems

However, data integrity and reconciliation are just pieces of the larger intelligent automation puzzle. To achieve full IPA for your data flows, there are many connection points that sit before and after Duco, such as:

  • Data processing solutions to extract data from scans, faxes, jpgs, PDFs, emails or databases and automatically feed it into Duco
  • RPA to automatically fix breaks flagged by Duco’s exceptions management workflow
  • RPA or data processing solutions to take the results from Duco and automatically feed the resulting downstream systems or processes based on predefined rules

The ecosystem effect

Automating data processes in an intelligent way – and using artificial intelligence and machine learning where it can provide the most value – is key to easing the burden on organisations. Now, more than ever in the current market conditions, efficiency, automation, reducing key-man risk, and cost savings are imperative.

Ripping out and replacing legacy systems all in one go may not be especially practical given the current situation. But firms can accelerate the move to IPA by bringing in new, intelligent technology, and start improving incrementally. The important point here is that those systems must be flexible enough to work with any type of data, and with other systems in the organisation.

At Duco, for example, we are collaborating with other technology firms through our Ecosystem Program to bring new joint solutions to the market. The program is made up of vendors in the RPA, collaboration, data processing, and artificial intelligence/machine learning sectors to ensure our customers, our partners, and our partners’ customers achieve their goals with faster speed and scale. We are here to help and ready to walk with you on this journey.

Interested in learning more?  Contact us here.