Blast Off with Process Intelligence for Financial Services

Two of the biggest concerns for Financial Services Institutions (FSI) as we roll into 2021 are customers and compliance. The dynamics of the customer relationship were forever altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and any incremental progress on digitization and customer centricity was thrust into fruition in less than a year. But when change happens at such an accelerated pace, it’s difficult for your business and workforce to keep up. That, then, becomes a compliance issue, and it goes well beyond just the customer interaction. Every ripple of change that impacts customers also orbits on-boarding, supply chain, regulatory, and even employee satisfaction. 

So how do you cope? Read on to find out, or jump straight to our new ebook, Blast Off to a Transformational Future.

T-Minus 10-9-8…Start at the Launch Pad

To adjust to our new reality you need to first understand the reality of your business on the ground. You’re on the launch pad and you can see the promise of digital transformation looming large on the horizon. But, you need to optimize your underlying core processes as they continue to change. It’s a daunting challenge, but one that process intelligence can help you solve. 

It begins with the customer lifecycle. How you find and onboard customers has fundamentally changed. From prospecting and acquisition to eventual transaction processing, customers are demanding more, faster, and broader services. Their expectations are also continuing to climb. Process automation can help you eliminate slow, tedious, error-prone manual tasks, but where do you start? Determining which processes are ready for automation requires learning how processes are actually completed. 

FSIs have additional concerns around risk, internal controls, exposure to nefarious actors, and regulatory scrutiny, along with the need to meet rising customer expectations. There are also security implications to any process change, as well as the impact to workers, decision making, and more. Most firms are solving these challenges with digital transformations, even though McKinsey & Company found that just 14% of those efforts will return sustainable performance improvements. 

Again, the only path to transformational success is by first understanding your current processes and how they are actually performed. You don’t fire up the rocket engines and then move to the launch pad, right? 

7-6-5…Use Process Intelligence as the Fuel

FortressIQ combines computer vision, and deep learning models to automatically discover, map, model, and document the details behind every digital process executed across every application used by your workforce. By mapping processes across your entire firm and at all levels, you’re then empowered to identify operational risk and work on mitigation. Or, you can identify candidates for automation and move forward with confidence because you’ll uncover every deviation, best practice, and risky workaround before you automate.

Process intelligence fuels your transformation. It prepares you for the good work ahead, and quickly provides deep, accurate insights on every step of every business process. 

A good example comes from a broker/dealer that was deploying a cloud strategy. The firm relied on disconnected legacy and homegrown technologies, and had a very inefficient organizational structure. That made process discovery a challenge. So they deployed FortressIQ Process Intelligence to decode as-is processes. Across 10+ million events and 120+ applications, they discovered 40-50% of critical events happened within Microsoft Excel, Outlook, and Teams, which launched their transformation efforts.

4-3-2-1…Uncover GRC Issues

Successful transformation requires continued focus well beyond liftoff. Mission control needs constant and accurate insights to keep the mission on track. Similarly, your transformation teams need to see the impact of processes and process changes across your business. That’s especially critical for FSIs and this industry’s unique compliance and control requirements. 

Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) challenges have ballooned as the pandemic pushed us into remote work situations. The implications are especially acute for FSIs (read our related blog post for more insights). FortressIQ lets you see into processes to combat financial crimes from both sides: you’ll see process gaps that might be attractive to criminals and you’ll help audit, compliance, and assurance teams better understand areas of risk. 

In one example, an investment bank wanted to combat financial crime (AML) by enhancing their transaction monitoring process and data management. But, their highly manual processes and unstructured data forced 100+ analysts to spend 80% of their time in data collection, cleansing, and loading before any actual analysis could be conducted. FortressIQ Process Intelligence decoded their current state processes to provide detailed data on application usage and process variations. These insights allowed the firm to quickly improve the user experience and streamline interactions across various systems.

Beyond GRC, process intelligence also gives operations, lending, and other departments a better view into how your business actually works. That helps you make improvements while closing BSA/AML and KYC risk gaps at the same time. FortressIQ also generates accurate process definition documents (PDD) automatically, thus helping teams across your firm automate workflows, increase compliance, and improve business operations.

For FSIs, this translates into a win-win of less risk and more efficient operations. 

Blast Off to Success

Today’s customers demand change, flexibility, and speed. But you can’t transform for tomorrow until you know how your business actually operates today. And, FSIs have the added responsibility of compliance and controls, regulatory oversight, governance, audit, and more. Every process can add to or reduce risk, and only accurate and comprehensive process intelligence shows you where that risk hides. It also provides the trajectory for eventual automation that further reduces risk and increases efficiencies.

The near real-time, data-driven insights provided by FortressIQ, along with the power and usability from our integration with Microsoft Power Platform, lets you transform your business today to keep up with the changing needs of tomorrow. 

Read more about process intelligence for FSIs in our new ebook, Blast Off to a Transformational Future. It also contains a helpful checklist of 5 critical prerequisites for successful FSI transformation.

Financial Services: 5 Ways to Bring EUCs into Compliance with Process Intelligence

End-user computing tools (EUC) are those that give anyone the power to build or modify an application. It can be as simple as recording a macro or entering a formula, and as complex as writing detailed scripts or using a drag-and-drop programming interface. But, whatever the method, EUC turns end users into citizen developers who can build and execute easily repeatable tasks and processes. 

Common EUC tools include spreadsheets such as Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel, databases, reporting tools such as Tableau, and more. Generally, these applications are used outside of core IT systems and are used across the enterprise for financial computations, data collection and cleansing, financial and regulatory reporting, and much more. It’s no wonder they’re frequently referred to as “shadow IT.”

Where EUC Adds Risk

EUC tools stand out from disconnected and inflexible core systems precisely because they are nimble, efficient, and easy to use. That’s why they’re ubiquitous in today’s modern workplace and which enterprises have no choice but to support. Financial Services Institutions (FSI) are no different, and maybe even more tied to the usability and flexibility of EUCs since they are used so heavily for financial calculations, reporting, and data analysis.

EUCs do, however, pose important risks and challenges, especially if your enterprise lacks on-going governance to detect granular process execution from such applications. The lack of governance introduces immense risk with EUCs that are complex, generate critical data, or are used to make business decisions. Undetected errors, incorrect computations, and inaccurate reports can result in poor decisions, operational losses, and regulatory scrutiny and fines. 

But is this really a risk FSIs should care about? A large global bank was recently fined over $400 million by the regulators. The ruling pointed to the institution’s failure to implement and maintain an enterprise-wide risk management and compliance program, adequate internal controls, or a data governance program commensurate with the bank’s size, complexity, and risk profile. 

Determining Your EUC Exposure

The goal is not to start finding and eliminating EUCs, since that is nearly impossible and counterproductive. Instead, FSIs must begin to explore where operational issues are cropping up, and then begin drilling down to determine if EUCs are at the core of those issues.

Here are a few areas where FSIs can start to dig into their exposure to EUC-induced risk:

  • Reporting Delays: Are manual processes and workarounds causing delays in producing critical reports important to the management?
  • Late Regulatory Reports: Are delays in regulatory reporting submissions due to lack of standardized processes, disconnected applications, and legacy systems?
  • Underperformance: Have there been operational losses or near misses due to manual and complex processes?
  • Bad Decisions: Are there recurring instances of sub-optimal decisions being made due to incorrect reports, inaccurate data, and/or incorrect financial calculations?
  • Governance: How do you ensure effective governance and controls over identification and management of EUC tools?
  • Data Integration and Hygiene: Is your team spending too much time manually collecting, cleansing, and transforming data before it enters a process?

Mitigating EUC Risk with Microsoft and FortressIQ

Across business and support functions, anecdotal evidence shows nearly half of workers’ time can be spent in collaborative applications, such as email, spreadsheets and databases, chat, and others. These are all considered EUCs, and they produce a large amount of unstructured data which is manually collected, shared, and transformed to execute tasks and processes. While enterprises spend millions of dollars annually on core applications, it’s within these EUC tools that most of your critical day-to-day work happens.

But, while these office productivity applications enable flexibility, they lack the rigor and structure of core systems and applications. Therefore, they cannot generate the click-level data logs and rigidity that legacy applications offer. To discover how your enterprise is using EUCs requires either slow, expensive, manual process discovery, or something more modern. 

FortressIQ combines AI and computer vision to capture and discover relevant process data, even within EUCs. This is human-level observability that brings the required context and meaning to organizational process data. It’s called process intelligence, and can be used to automatically discover, map, model, and document the granular details behind every digital process executed across every application. EUCs included.  

Once you’ve used FortressIQ to decode how your business works, across your entire organization, you have the power to automate data flow and processes, increase compliance and controls, and substantially reduce operational risks with Microsoft Power Apps.  The combination enables you to quickly build the custom, no-code applications needed to ensure both flexibility and control, while removing the risks of redundant, tedious, and error-prone tasks. 

5 Ways to Use Process Intelligence

Process intelligence provides visibility into how your business runs. Not how it’s supposed to run, but how it actually runs. This gap creates immense amounts of risk, all of it unknown unless you can capture an accurate as-is picture of your enterprise. 

Here are just a few ways FSIs are leveraging FortressIQ to reign in their EUC risk:

  1. Intelligent SOPs. FortressIQ documents processes at the most granular level provides the basis for automatically created process detail documentation (PDDs).
  2. Automation. FortressIQ surfaces repeatable, predictable tasks and the variations of how tasks are executed by different users. The insights are an automation generator at scale when coupled with Microsoft Power Apps.
  3. Strategic Insights. FortressIQ creates an organizational blueprint to inform decisions on system usage, employee experience, application interconnectedness, third-party vs. in-house applications, digital strategy, data governance, and more.
  4. Strengthening Internal Controls. Process intelligence delivers granular insights to identify and manage risks by reducing dependence on EUCs or through automation with Microsoft Power Apps.
  5. System Optimization. Process intelligence delivers macro insights to spot process slowdowns and bottlenecks, opportunities for enhanced decision-making, and areas where the employee experience can be improved through automation with Microsoft Power Apps.

To learn more about process intelligence for FSIs, read how it accelerates GRC efforts and how it helps to transform BSA/AML and KYC

How Humalogy Measures the Human/Technology Balance on the hello, Human Podcast

Our podcast, hello, Human, features the leading builders, explorers, and warriors of AI. Together, we investigate how they’re putting AI to work to transform enterprises and make sustainable progress on automation, privacy, business disruption, human-bot teaming, and much more. We strive to make each episode intelligent and engaging, with the ultimate goal of improving your understanding of the opportunities AI can bring to your business and our world. 

Episode 6 – Humalogy and The Future of Work

FortressIQ | Intelligent Insights for the Modern Enterprise
Episode 6 - Humalogy and The Future of Work