Process Intelligence for Operational Resilience in Financial Services

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated operational risks while increasing economic and business uncertainty. Pandemic-related disruptions have affected internal information systems, personnel, and facilities, as well as relationships with external service providers and customers. In addition, cyber threats (ransomware attacks, phishing, etc.) have spiked, and the potential for operational risk events caused by people, failed processes, and disrupted systems has increased as a result of greater reliance on virtual working arrangements. 

To help the financial industry improve its ability to survive future disruptions, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) recently issued Principles for operational resilience. It aims to make financial services institutions (FSI) better able to withstand, adapt to, and recover from severe adverse events. Similar guidance has been rolled out by the Prudential Regulatory Authority, Financial Conduct Authority, and other regulators. The goal is to provide additional safeguards for the overall financial system.

Operational Resilience Requires Detailed Process Understanding

The BCBS defines operational resilience as the ability of an FSI to deliver critical operations through disruption. The principles cover topics ranging from governance and operational risk management to business continuity planning and cybersecurity, including activities performed for third parties. The principles have also been expanded to include processes which, if disrupted, would be material to the company’s continued operation or its role in the financial system.

In other words, it’s critical to understand every process that makes an FSI tick.

Mapping the Connections

Of particular note is the document’s fourth principle, which provides guidance on mapping the interdependencies of internal and external processes. It states that FSIs should not just identify critical operations, but “map the internal and external interconnections and interdependencies” to truly understand how they deliver critical operations.

BCBS further implores FSIs to go deeper than just the tasks and steps to identify and document the people, processes, technologies, information, facilities, and more, including those of third parties. It further calls out the need to define “interconnections and interdependencies” among all these components as they relate to an FSI’s ability to deliver critical operations.

Capturing this level of detail, at scale, is a daunting task even for smaller FSIs. The typical manual process mapping and application log file-based process mining efforts are too slow, too expensive, and too limited in their scope. 

Process Intelligence Accelerates Operational Resiliency Initiatives 

FortressIQ Process Intelligence uses computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to effectively capture and discover the details of every process, who performs it, using which applications, and the output generated from it. 

Yes, FortressIQ maps and documents the people, processes, technologies, and information behind every process. Best of all, it captures this process intelligence in just weeks, comprehensively and accurately, without expensive and long engagements. And, it highlights process variances across workers due to differences in experience, training, or other factors.

FortressIQ also documents the people and processes using legacy, home-grown, and user-generated tools, and even productivity tools that lack logs, such as email and spreadsheet apps. FSIs spend millions of dollars buying, building, and maintaining these customized and third-party systems, but allow risk to be introduced as end users conduct operation-critical work using end-user computing tools (EUC), which are outside of core systems. These EUCs can help make day-to-day work faster and more efficient, but the operational and continuity risks associated with EUCs cannot be understated. 

FortressIQ Process Intelligence requires zero integration, works without disrupting employees, and captures granular process details. Process data is then decoded to provide actionable insights so FSIs can make faster, more informed decisions on the process optimizations, digital transformations, and cloud adoption that support resilience initiatives. 

Decode Work for FSI Resilience 

FortressIQ follows the human with automated process discovery, modeling, and documentation. It works everywhere business happens, capturing process data at the most granular level, performed on any application, with no bias or blind spots, and across global operations. It then presents process visualizations and dashboards across people, process, technology and information, allowing a view of the data from a broad perspective or focus on a single process thread, and empowering leaders to make data-driven decisions with increased confidence.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for operational resilience, especially for FSIs. Given the critical role of FSIs in the global financial system, increasing their resilience to these types of black swan events also increases their ability to absorb the more likely and more common shocks of cyber incidents, technology failures, and natural disasters. Pragmatic operational resiliency provides safeguards for the financial system as a whole. But, it all starts by decoding how FSIs work today. 

FortressIQ can help. To learn more, visit our Resource Library.

Ripples Become Waves: The New Normal Of Supply Chain and Logistics Disruptions

Supply chain and logistics sit at the intersection of major economic and societal trends, such as rapid urbanization and e-commerce growth. Your customers compound the challenges by constantly demanding enhancements to shipping and logistics business processes to lower costs, improve service, and increase efficiency. Services such as freight forwarding, truckload brokerage, customs brokerage, order fulfillment, and returns management are all key to improve the efficiency of the supply chain management process, and your customers want improvements up and down the chain. But that’s increasingly challenging as those customers continue to adapt, competition rages, and the rate of change accelerates and impacts all parts of your business. The net effect is that the ripple effect of one decision could be the wave that overwhelms your business.

Disruptions Prevent Short Lead Times and High Fill Rates

Lead time is an important metric in logistics. It is measured from the time of order submission to the time of order receipt. An equally important metric is fill rate, which is defined as the percentage of orders shipped from inventory. The goal is for lead times to be as short as possible with minimal variability, and fill rates to be high given enough inventory is maintained to avoid stock-outs. 

The overall goal of logistics is to deliver the right product, at the right price, to the right customer, at the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity, and in the right condition. That’s a challenge and involves many processes across your business. But with challenges such as the pandemic, the recent grueling halt of hundreds of container ships in the Suez Canal, and sudden shifts in fuel costs and commodity price increases, it is clear that one isolated incident can quickly disrupt your entire supply chain.

Fight Demand and Supply Uncertainty with Insights

Traditionally, demand and supply were anticipated using various modeling techniques based on historical data. But 2020 changed that, probably for good. From a sharp drop in demand in the early part of 2020 to an acute supply shortage in the latter half of 2020, many global and local retailers, consumer products manufacturers, and logistics companies were caught off-guard. The disruption caused a significant reduction in revenue due to curtailment of business, an increase in expenses or a reduction in operating margins, reductions in operating effectiveness due to employees working remotely, unavailability of personnel, and much more. These are just a few examples of the widespread impact. 

To survive in this new normal, businesses will need to enhance their operating model, while others need to completely reimagine how they work. To thrive, you’ll need to do much more. Businesses must fully understand how each function and process contribute to the overall enterprise strategy and success, from connectivity to customers, call centers, warehouse management, inventory management, pricing, finance, accounting, returns (reverse logistics), amongst others. People, processes, technology, information, and facilities, and mapping their interdependencies and connectedness is key to driving operational resilience. But, these connections are also frequently the cause of complex and complicated manual processes or disconnected legacy systems and applications. This not only creates additional work, it increases operational risks, losses, customer dissatisfaction, and low employee morale. 

To improve, you must first find and understand these challenges, and that starts by decoding how your business actually works today.

How FortressIQ Works

By leveraging computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, and with universal compatibility requiring zero integration, FortressIQ disrupts the traditional process mining and discovery methods. Our solution captures and discovers all relevant process data in just weeks with automated business process discovery, modeling, and documentation. The result is data and insights across all organizational processes and which are unattainable with traditional methods.

Decode Work with Unmatched Visibility 

FortressIQ brings visibility into how operations, internal controls, and supply chains actually work. Instead of capturing limited process logs or conducting slow, expensive interviews, FortressIQ follows the human with automated business process discovery, modeling, and documentation. It then presents data and insights through process visualizations and reports, allowing you to view the data from a broad perspective, such as reviewing the most performed tasks or focus on a single process thread or sub-task. The ability to analyze processes at this precise level of detail enables data-driven decision-making for increased confidence. 

Adapt to Today’s Retail, Supply Chain, and Logistics Challenges 

FortressIQ quickly decodes work at every level, across every channel, and in every domain. Detailed current-state assessments let you make data-driven decisions by capturing tasks at the most granular level, with no bias or blind spots. This intelligence empowers you to improve your business by enabling fit-for-purpose solutions such as automating repetitive processes, system optimizations and replacements, increasing compliance and controls, standardizing processes, and much more. Even as systems change across brands, business lines, and regions, FortressIQ provides continuous and comprehensive insights so you can focus on sustainable growth. 

To learn more, join us for an interactive demonstration of how FortressIQ can deliver value to your organization in weeks, not months or years.

Prepare Yourself for Process Intelligence: Introducing FortressIQ Academy

Process intelligence lets you decode work to understand every task, interaction, and workflow so you can make better decisions, optimize processes, and empower employees to do more, more efficiently, and with fewer errors. 

Process intelligence is also fast, delivering detailed process data in just weeks, at enterprise scale, and across every app and system. But that doesn’t give you much time to get your hands on FortressIQ Process Intelligence to understand how to harness all of that power and data. Now, there’s no need to worry.

Introducing FortressIQ Academy

FortressIQ Academy empowers our customers and partners to quickly realize the immense value of FortressIQ Process Intelligence. It’s an efficient, phased training program to help individual users or global enterprises gain the skills necessary to understand, in accurate detail, how your business works at all levels.

With practical, hands-on training sessions, FortressIQ Academy provides instruction for all levels of learners.

  • Introductory modules help those new to process intelligence understand the concepts, technology, and data visualizations. 
  • Foundational topics provide process intelligence how-tos to enable fast results from process discovery and data mining, and the creation of process definition documents. 
  • Advanced courses empower practitioners and administrators with advanced tips and tricks for deeper event exploration and strategic business process analysis.

From the Comfort of… Anywhere

It’s a tricky work world out there, so FortressIQ Academy lets you take courses at the pace and location most appropriate for your needs and comfort level. Online, self-guided courses are available to help you quickly develop proficiency with FortressIQ. Instructor-led training is also available, which is especially beneficial for larger teams or specialized use cases.

Start Learning Process Intelligence Today

FortressIQ automatically and continuously captures your business process data, at scale, and across every enterprise system. It provides a clear and accurate view of how your business works today. But that doesn’t give you much time to get up to speed on how to use process intelligence insights to execute business process automation, accelerate digital transformations, or ensure the sustainability of enterprise optimizations. 

So get started with FortressIQ Academy today. To learn more, contact your account executive or partner representative today. 

RPA Is Just One Piece of the Automation Puzzle

With any technology experiencing massive adoption, there is no shortage of unwarranted hype. RPA is no exception as it has been the fastest-growing enterprise software category for the last three years. But, beyond the hype, RPA does deliver significant value and can radically transform how your enterprise works. You just need to realize what to expect of RPA before it’s unleashed.

Hype Leads to RPA’s Perceived Failure

The biggest fallacy fueling RPA’s hype machine is the term itself. It is not robotic process automation. More accurately, it is robotic task automation. The misnomer is responsible for some of the challenges the technology has faced in terms of scaling across the enterprise. The vast majority of companies that have deployed RPA still can’t get more than 10 bots into production.

Another major misperception for RPA is that automation will reduce operating costs by eliminating headcount. There is no doubt RPA does enable a team to do more with less, but promises of fewer resource requirements too often fail to materialize. Companies need to think more about the impact on employee experience and the value those employees deliver. RPA does a great job of automating low-value work so employees can focus on high-value activities. 

Finally, despite its reputation as a panacea for many enterprise ills, RPA often adds to an organization’s technical debt, which will eventually be a problem someone has to correct. There is no doubt RPA is fast, efficient, and less expensive than other methods. But, it’s more of a band-aid than a cure. 

For example, with analytics workloads, in particular, data is often generated in legacy mainframes and RPA is used in place of costly API integrations and other fixes. It provides a temporary fix to get a few more years out of a legacy system. Yes, it avoids a costly, time-consuming, and error-prone system upgrade. But it ignores the less obvious costs and inefficiencies associated with maintaining the legacy application, like performance, compliance, and security. These issues would typically be addressed by an upgrade but are too often pushed off by deploying RPA as an interim solution. 

Focus on Automation’s Value

The grand promise of RPA so frequently falls short due to over planning, the inability to identify key automation opportunities, and a disproportionate focus on short-term objectives to show wins even if they’re not aligned with corporate objectives. This is why many organizations spend 12-18 months before getting a single bot into production. 

Today, automation is the new transformation. After a decade or more of mediocre success rates and an overemphasis on customer experience initiatives, automation provided needed relief to address the transformation fatigue that many companies faced. Fortunately, RPA is not the only automation technology available to drive business value. 

Automation technologies are quite flexible and are being implemented across a wide variety of settings, from structured transactional activities to end-to-end processes. Use cases across the enterprise can be addressed using a variety of technologies. In addition to general user interface (UI) layer tools like RPA, there are domain-specific tools available to support various functions, like marketing automation. Other tools focus on data extraction to capture unstructured data and make it more usable. Technologists also have digital process automation platforms available to address deeper and wider workflows, and more traditional APIs can be used to integrate enterprise systems.

4 Automation Prerequisites

Regardless of the automation technology deployed, there are four vital actions to take before your company or department invests time, energy, and budget into a project. 

  1. Assess the overall process complexity. Insights on the applications involved and the amount of human expertise required will help guide technology selection and determine the feasibility of success. 
  2. Decide if the process is mission-critical or if you are automating just for the sake of automating. 
  3. Identify key metrics that will define a winning result. Whether it is speed or scale or accuracy or efficiency, you want to establish the goal in advance so you know when you can celebrate. 
  4. Proceed only with fully detailed process documentation. To improve tomorrow, you need to understand where you are today. It’s common sense. No one says they are going to lose 20 pounds but do not know how much they currently weigh. Unfortunately, too many organizations try — and fail — to automate a process that they do not fully understand how they complete today.

It all makes sense. Before you begin, you need to know where you’re starting from, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. Automation is no different. And, if you truly want to succeed in transforming how your business operates, you must realize RPA is just one piece of the automation puzzle.

5 Lessons from Women in AI on the hello, Human Podcast

For this season of the hello, Human Podcast we celebrated Women in AI with a special series of eight episodes highlighting women across different industries including high tech, healthcare, and government. Throughout the series, the executives shared their stories, lessons learned, and advice for the next generation of women in tech. We rounded up some of our favorite pieces of advice — here are the takeaways:

1. Explore the Unknown 

  • Start with a mentor. It’s hard to figure out where to go and where to begin- especially when many women in tech don’t even start in tech. Sherika Ekpo started her career in human resources while recruiting talent for a government agency. She transitioned from government to tech and now works as the Global Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Artificial Intelligence at Google.
  • “Identify a career field that’s evolving, and identify mentors or sponsors who can help you get into that space.” Sherika didn’t start in tech, so she leaned on strong mentors to help her learn and advance in her career. It’s not about where you start but the resources you find. 
  • In some roles, it’s important to know the technical skills- whether that’s code or understanding the ins and outs of automation. But, it’s also important to keep advancing those skills through different certification courses, webinars, and conferences/events. 
  • Preeti Adhikary encourages young women to “be open to learning, and have that learner’s mindset.” Technical skills can be taught, but emotional intelligence can’t. Being a woman in tech, especially an executive, means knowing how to communicate with your team and the rest of the company. 

2. Battle Bias

3. Address the Gap

  • Katica Roy, the founder of Pipeline Equity, shared the “2021 Retrospective,” which shares the story of gender equity from the past decade in ten trends. “Since 1970, women have added $2 trillion to the US economy through their increased labor force participation. We were set back so far that we’ve lost over $1 trillion out of our economy just due to women leaving the workforce.
  • There are not enough women in tech and not even in the workforce. Employers need to understand that women are needed. There is a statistical gap, but also a need to address it- immediately. Businesses and organizations must continue establishing various inclusion programs for women, POC, and other groups. Creating an equal space and ensuring initiatives encourage the future workforce.
  • Females are powerful. Tripti Sethi was the first data science hire at Avanade. She built a team of 400. Yael was the first female doctor in her town. Growing up in a highly religious community, she would have never imagined being a doctor and now running her own business- Embryonics. Embryonics is developing and applying data-driven solutions to improve the journey and the success rates of fertility treatments. She’s been able to help thousands of women with their IVF journeys. To think, if these women had listened to those around them, their paths could have been very different.

4. Don’t Take No for an Answer

  • Zahra Timsah, the lead for AI Governance at MassMutual, encourages women to “be proactive, not just reactive.” Career is a risk, but life is an even bigger risk. Go for the goal and don’t turn back. If you believe in it, keep pushing for it. If there is no one to champion for you, champion for yourself. And if you can, always support other women. 
  • Katica Roy emphasized the importance of confidence and believing not only in yourself but other women. “Be brave, jump, and the ledge will appear.” It’s bravery that will push you to take that jump and leap of faith. Without taking that risk, you never know what the other side will hold- especially if you listen to others and not yourself first. 

5. Support Other Women (especially other Women in Tech)

You can tune into the Women in AI series here, and if you like what you hear, leave us a review. Ready to share your advice for the next generation of Women in AI? Be sure to tag us on Twitter and LinkedIn using the hashtag #hellohuman. 

The Low-Code Movement Will Spur Process Intelligence

Interest in low-code development is skyrocketing. Annual market growth is predicted to exceed 25%, growing from $13B in 2020 to $65B in 2027, according to research from Brandessence Market Research. For organizations looking to win in the digital-first agile world, low-code is quickly becoming a critical component of a modern enterprise technology stack. If you’ve been around technology, you have probably heard the phrase, “Faster, better, cheaper — pick two.” But low-code gives you all three and adds “flexible” to the mix.

With their roots in the Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools of the 1990s, low-code platforms are an application development environment that use graphical user interfaces and configuration instead of traditional hand-coded computer programming. Formal software engineering skills are not required to create applications since a visual user interface in combination with model-driven logic is used. This opens the door to a wider range of people who can build apps for the business. With a little training, employees can rapidly create and deploy secure scalable software. One note to remember – low-code is not interchangeable with no-code which is a subset of technologies aimed at business users primarily working on enhancing their individual productivity.

A New Player in the Enterprise Technology Stack 

It’s impossible to argue against the need and demand for low-code in the enterprise. According to Gartner, more than 65% of application development in 2024 will be performed by low code platforms. That’s a remarkable shift for a software category that did not exist a decade ago. The number of digital applications and services being built is exploding as well. Between 2018 and 2023, more than 500 million apps will be created according to IDC. To put that massive number into perspective, that’s more than the previous 40 years combined. With low-code, companies can rapidly produce applications within a shorter time span and at a fraction of the cost. Schneider Electric launched 60 apps in 20 months, delivering most in just 10 weeks, and Ricoh replaced critical legacy systems 3X faster with a positive ROI in 7 months using Outsystems. Some skeptics may point out the lack of available IT resources, but business users can learn low-code development methodologies quickly, typically in less than one month. Clearly the old way of building apps cannot keep pace with today’s digital marketplace. 

Process Intelligence Jump Starts Low-Code Journey 

To help accelerate utilization of low-code and scale it across the enterprise, process intelligence is a key enabler. You cannot improve how you operate tomorrow if you don’t fully understand how you work today. And most companies truly don’t understand how they operate on a daily basis, especially at a granular user activity level required to automate a process or streamline a workflow. They have limited process understanding. They don’t know how their applications and data interact, and they don’t really understand what their customers expect.

The impact of this gap in process data is well documented. The 70% failure rate of transformation programs is widely reported. McKinsey pegs the cost at nearly $1 trillion annually and noted on 14% of companies have seen a sustained and material improvement in their business. Another study from Gartner noted only 1% of companies have sufficient understanding of their processes to take full advantage of the technology solutions. 

Before embarking on a major initiative, a company must map its processes, its systems and its experiences. Today, that necessary level of operational intelligence just does not generally exist in most companies and on top of that it is very difficult to obtain without process intelligence.

Low-Code and Process Intelligence – Better Together Than RPA

Process intelligence was a similar catalyst for Robotic Process Automation (RPA), but the opportunity with Low-Code is even greater. RPA programs enjoyed massive early uptake, but the challenge was how to scale the initiatives. Companies still struggle getting more than 50 bots deployed. Once any obvious low-hanging fruit is automated, it becomes difficult to identify what to tackle next and how to tackle it. Process intelligence answers those questions to help scale RPA. 

With Low-Code, Process Intelligence accomplishes that and more. The combination will overtake RPA as the gateway for AI and automation. Low-Code is more efficient and scalable than traditional RPA development because it does not operate at the user interface (UI) layer, making the applications more resilient. Additionally, where RPA is traditionally limited to task activities, Low-Code is much more capable of handling sub-process and process level activities making it much more valuable to the enterprise. Coupling Process Intelligence with Low-Code helps steer an enterprise toward a next-generation operation model that is faster, cheaper, better and flexible. It may also fully realize the promise of Citizen Developers that RPA struggles to achieve.

VentureBeat: Why Process Mining is Seeing Triple-Digit Growth

ISO 9000 is a set of standards for quality management developed in the late 80s. It was based on procurement standards used by the U.S. Department of Defense. But, in a long-ago training session, the entire premise was summed up by the instructor as, “Document what you do, then do what you’ve documented.”

The reasons those types of programs exist is because the documented process is rarely the actual process. But today, given the massive scale and breadth of change over the past year, it’s likely many of your processes have been altered in one way or another. In fact, a survey by McKinsey found that organizations have accelerated their digitization efforts by three to four years during the pandemic. So, before enterprises can change, improve, digitize, or automate a process, it’s imperative they first understand what’s really going on. 

A recent article in VentureBeat, “Why process mining is seeing triple-digit growth”, points to the past year’s massive change, along with many other factors, as what’s driving explosive demand for process mining tools and technologies. Gartner estimates that the market for these solutions has already tripled since 2018, and there’s more to come. Here’s a quick overview of why, according to VentureBeat.

RPA Isn’t Living Up to Expectations

Robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives and their expected ROI are based on the underlying process. Saving an hour per day for a documented process completed by your expensive procurement team could generate a nice return, for example. But, if Procurement is, in reality, already working around the systems and tasks that slowed them down, the return could be considerably lower, or it could even cost you money. Or, maybe that entire process is done differently in other regions or isn’t really valuable for Procurement, so you’ve spent money automating a bad process you’ll eventually need to spend more money to rework.

Companies are now finding that, in their haste to automate, they neither understood the actual process nor developed an optimized, scalable process built for their current needs. As the article states, “Many enterprises are finding it difficult to scale beyond a few software robots or bots because they are automating a bad process that cannot scale.”

Process intelligence, however, is giving enterprises detailed information on why their RPA isn’t driving more value. It’s also giving visibility to the true as-is processes, how they vary across the business, and where optimizations might make those processes better well before RPA is considered. 

Download our ebook: 6 Strategies to Drive Successful Automation

Benefits Beyond Simple Process Mining

Process mining, which “involves mining data logs from applications like ERP and CRM to assemble an accurate model of how a business process, like order to cash (OTC), works,” is inherently limited. Many tools in modern enterprises, such as Microsoft Office, virtual desktops, and email, don’t produce data logs. Process intelligence, or what VentureBeat refers to as “task mining,” uses computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to directly record how a worker accomplishes any given task.

See our related post: What is Process Intelligence?

Since process intelligence doesn’t rely on data logs, it can capture more data from more applications, but also how today’s workers jump between applications. For example, maybe the OTC process requires a clerk to copy order data from an ERP system and paste it into an invoicing system, which then generates a PDF invoice that’s manually emailed to a vendor. Process mining would likely capture the ERP and invoicing logs, but process intelligence would provide insights across the end-to-end process and all applications, including the manually created email. 

Those cross-application actions are more indicative of how today’s workers work, and that’s the level of data enterprises are now demanding. Process intelligence adds AI and ML to uncover the nuance of processes and surface opportunities to optimize before you might apply RPA to automate suboptimal subtasks. 

New Applications Across the Enterprise

The inclusion of advanced AI and ML, along with the benefits of the cloud, enables enterprises of any size to quickly capture and evaluate data on enterprise-scale processes. But it’s not just limited to processes, per se, since other insights can be gleaned from knowing how your enterprise operates today and at a detailed level. VentureBeat calls it “a new sensory system for organizations.”

“In the ecology of companies battling for market share, a company with even a primitive capability of seeing invisible workflows better than the competition has a huge advantage over companies that cannot see. As Erasmus stated in 1500 AD: ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’”

Some examples of these in-demand capabilities of process intelligence include:

  • Understanding and mitigating complex cybersecurity threats
  • Optimizing the physical logistics of warehousing
  • Improving manufacturing processes
  • Breaking down organizational silos
  • Reducing training time
  • Identifying the root cause of quality issues

It’s also being used to enhance how humans work, such as increasing safety and automatically altering workers when steps are missed by mistake. So while the word “automation” may sound like jobs are at risk, one of the most human benefits of process intelligence is in making humans better at how they work. 

“Rather than just looking at process mining as something to impose on workers, companies may see the biggest gains by finding ways to include and reward employees as part of the adoption. After all, thousands of eyes in the field may see some opportunities that a few experts in the office might miss.”

You can read the complete VentureBeat article here.

Elevate Human Potential With Innovative Automation 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.

FortressIQ | Intelligent Insights for the Modern Enterprise
Episode 7 - Elevate Human Potential With Innovative Automation
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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