How Process Intelligence Accelerates GRC Efforts for Financial Services

The focus of all organizations and leaders this year has, rightfully so, been to protect its customers and employees. Over 90% of the workforce is now working remotely, outside the boundaries of the traditional office, while customers forge ahead into uncertainty. Indeed the world now looks very different from what it did at the start of the year. But one thing is clear: this is the new normal.

But as financial services institutions (FSI) look to overcome ongoing challenges to managing risk, the need to improve governance and exert control over processes and activities remains critical. Add in digital transformations, upgrades to aging technology, and dealing with increased regulatory scrutiny, there is immense pressure on governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) teams. Between 2019 and 2020, regulatory fines and penalties on FSIs have exceeded over $11 billion, largely due to financial crimes, a lack of adequate supervisory controls, and governance and risk management failures.

Managing GRC in our new normal requires a new approach. Detailing the interconnectedness of people, process, technology, and data is crucial to mitigating risk, improving compliance, and aligning governance with business goals. Leveraging artificial intelligence, computer vision, and deep learning models, also known as process intelligence, is now an important tool in the toolkit for the GRC practitioners, and officers across multiple lines of defense.

Where Process Intelligence Makes the Difference
Only by understanding the reality of your business processes can you be effective in improving internal controls. FortressIQ decodes work to provide the detailed current-state assessments, which give you the process intelligence to make data-driven decisions. It captures tasks at the most granular level, with no bias or digital blind spots. It works across all applications, through each department across the enterprise, and for every single process. It’s also faster and less expensive than traditional process mapping and mining methods, yet provides much higher accuracy to reduce rework and accelerate improvements.

Process intelligence provides GRC a powerful tool, and extends into financial crime, audit and assurance, operations, lending, and many other areas requiring execution of manual, repeatable tasks and usage of multiple systems and applications. With a deeper understanding of how your business actually works, strategic and tactical changes can be implemented effectively and efficiently, and with better oversight.

Converting Process Risk into Data Transparency
Below are key areas where process intelligence helps FSIs understand their current-state processes at the most granular level, and which can be leveraged effectively at scale:

  1. Enterprise-wide Risk Management (ERM): Process intelligence provides a detailed understanding of end-to-end processes at the enterprise level across key functional areas. This detail improves how risks are identified, captured, aggregated, and reported. Specifically, end-user computing tools are identified to highlight when and where manual workarounds occur. Examples include complex compilation and computation tasks performed by Risk Management, Operations, Finance, and Treasury to calculate market risk, credit risk, liquidity risks, capital and liquidity ratios, and more. Additionally, these granular process insights can then be leveraged for operational risk and control self-assessments (RCSA).
  2. Data Governance: To ensure effective management of BCBS standards, the Data Management office can leverage process intelligence to track which data points are captured manually. That’s essential to running the business and managing risks. Understanding the key sources of data (internal or external, such as regulatory websites or third-party data) and how the data is consumed (data inputs and outputs) within the organization can be tracked and measured.
  3. Compliance Risk Management: Compliance officers can leverage process intelligence to ensure adequate procedures are in place for process governance. In addition, simplified and standardized regulatory reporting processes. For example, a leading FSI mapped its trade reporting (blue sheets) processes, which included heavy user intervention and dependency on multiple applications and platforms, to execute regulatory requests. The number of regulatory requests had quadrupled in just a few months due to market volatility, which slowed down efforts and created a constant backlog. Within 7 days of deploying FortressIQ, and without disruption or utilization of a compliance officer’s time, the FSI was able to map end-to-end processes from request receival to submission. Compliance is now fully aware of the current state procedures and its complexities, and the output is being used as a business requirement document for process re-design and automation.
  4. Internal Controls: By understanding business processes at the most granular level, as well as detailing how key applications and platforms are used at the user level, internal controls can be strengthened and validated by all lines of defense. The procedure documentation, analytics, and insights can then be leveraged by Compliance, Risk Management, and Internal Audit to understand processes, manage risks, and validate and strengthen internal controls.

Process Intelligence for Every Line of Defense
Process intelligence brings visibility into each line of defense within an FSI by following the human and the process instead of application logs or consultant interviews. Advanced computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence capture every process step quickly and accurately, with zero integration and universal compatibility. This automated business process discovery, modeling, and documentation surfaces data and insights unattainable with traditional methods, but instantly usable by GRC across their purview and across the enterprise.

Three Lines of Defense Model

Process Intelligence is a valuable tool that uncovers the real usage of all governance, risk and compliance workflow tools and technologies. FSIs require transparency above all, and FortressIQ delivers real-time, data-driven insights that create a detailed map of your business – across all applications, through each department, and for every single process.

We can help your GRC efforts, too. Just click here to let us know how to get in touch.

FortressIQ Awarded a Top 3 Ranking in Process Intelligence

Just three years ago, FortressIQ embarked on an ambitious journey to build AI that can decode work. The long days and nights are paying off as industry analyst firm HFS Research recently ranked FortressIQ in the top three to be an “HFS Podium Winner” for 2020.

Interest in process intelligence has surged this year as enterprises realize the critical role operational understanding plays in driving success across key strategic business initiatives such as workflow automation, analytics, operational excellence, experience, and compliance. You have to understand today to improve tomorrow, and most companies lack the granular understanding of their business necessary to successfully transform.

Given the noise in the market and different approaches to achieve process intelligence, it is helpful to reiterate how HFS defines the category:

“Process intelligence technologies are critical change agents, bridging the divide of siloed data, BI, analytics, AI, and automation initiatives we see sprinkled across enterprises. The products available today are helping us address process debt, identify automation ROI, improve training and development programs, scale risk and compliance initiatives, and accelerate cloud migration.”

HFS positions FortressIQ as “visionaries in unstructured data capture.” This is a critical distinction because any outcome enabled by process intelligence, such as automation, analytics or compliance, relies on good data as the lynchpin for meeting the objectives. One client reported, “FortressIQ can interpret processes with 100% accuracy.”

FortressIQ ranked third overall out of the 14 vendors reviewed. We also ranked in the top three subcategories for innovation and “outstanding voice of the customer.” A number of long-term players in the market did not even make the top 10 in the report. Key strengths for FortressIQ were noted in scalability, vision, customer references and partners.

While security was identified as a challenge, the report data was gathered prior to the recent release of the Privacy Enhanced Gateway (PEG) module that enables AI cloud benefits with on-premise deployment security, as well as the addition of Role-Based Access Control (RBAC).

Our diverse and growing customer base, as well as our extensive partner network, recognize the value achieved by leveraging the FortressIQ platform. The increased awareness by the analyst community will only help to jumpstart adoption.

“The data speaks for itself; the process intelligence market is beginning to pick up steam and enterprise leaders’ yearning for process excellence is driving demand in the space. Leveraging the real-time process data which is now available thanks to the latest batch of process intelligence tools and techniques means that reaching previously unachievable ‘process excellence’ has suddenly become a reality, making this a market to watch,” noted HFS Analyst Sam Duncan.

Access the summary report for details on how FortressIQ ranked in ten categories including Overall technology and product vision and roadmap; Partnership Ecosystem, and Ability to transform business processes and deliver outcomes.

Don’t Create a Monster, Create a Beast

Halloween is right around the corner, and nothing is scarier than transforming your enterprise into a Frankenstein of incompatible tools and techniques. 

You started with the best intentions. You thought you chose the right tools, most attractive processes, and the best minds. 

But you soon found the amalgamation birthed a hideous creature of stitched-together processes, disconnected guidance, and opposing insights. It’s turned your transformation into a nightmare of rotting results, festering budgets, and decaying productivity. Instead of electrifying your enterprise with new life, you’ve created a monster.

Download the full infographic

Consultant’s Brain

Consultants are the experts, and you would expect them to be the brains behind your transformation. But they’re working with limited resources and time, trying to capture process details and then extrapolating anecdotes across your organization. They’re bound to miss things, which leaves your project wandering between options and never really making transformational impacts.

Miner’s Arm

Process mining and discovery techniques are slow, expensive, and highly manual. It’s an outdated approach that only captures a slice of a process based on how users interact with one system. It limits your coverage, misses steps performed in separate applications, and could pull your transformation in the wrong direction.

Software’s Arm

Digging for process details via APIs requires even more connections with IT, developers, and application vendors. It adds time and expense to your transformation project, and even more opportunities for messages to get lost and connections to break. Plus, each application requires a separate API connection, delivers data in different formats, and forces you to manually reconnect and reanimate the insights, adding even more delays.

Data Guts

Most companies truly don’t understand how they operate on a granular user level, and this lack of current state understanding is a major roadblock to transformation success. Process Intelligence helps eliminate nightmares by efficiently creating a dataset of user activity not previously available to kickstart strategic initiatives. Convert your process problems into big data solutions.

Bot’s Leg

RPA is great, but every organization struggles with scaling programs. Process assessment and prioritization delays development. Vendors have promoted screen recorders for task discovery, but they fail to scale and actually create more rework than traditional methods. Scary indeed. The only real answer to scaling your RPA program is adopting real process intelligence. Deploying FortressIQ means rapid assessments, and finding automation opportunities at scale

App’s Leg

Know what’s really scary?Most enterprise processes–especially the valuable ones–require workers to hop between software, move data across screens, or use multiple apps simultaneously. Trying to combine those steps into a coherent process using just log files and APIs is a recipe for disaster. Process Intelligence can give you the insights to start correcting the issue so you can understand today to improve tomorrow.

Stop the Madness! Turn Your Enterprise into a Beast

FortressIQ goes way beyond all of these scary, cobbled-together options to capture every step of every process, without expensive and disconnected tools pulling you in different directions. It brings your transformation to life with real-time, end-to-end process insights captured with DNA-level analytics across all applications, departments, and processes.

Don’t let your transformation turn into a monster. Use FortressIQ to make data-driven decisions that successfully propel your enterprise into tomorrow.

Transforming BSA/AML and KYC with Process Intelligence Technologies

The U.S. Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) of 1970 was one of the first Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) laws. It required companies and financial institutions to establish and report on internal controls and other measures put in place to prevent the facilitation of financial crimes. Other similar laws exist in countries around the world, creating a complex web of potential compliance issues for financial services companies.

Between 2008 and 2018, financial institutions worldwide have paid an estimated US$26 billion in fines and penalties as a result of violations to these regulations. That’s an average of $2.6 billion per year. However, government scrutiny of money laundering is now at an all-time high. Financial Institutions were fined US$5.6 billion in the first half of 2020 alone for non-compliance with AML, KYC, and related regulations. If the trend continues, it would represent a 430% increase over the previous ten-year average.

It is increasingly clear that compliance with these regulations is critical to the sustainability of every financial institution. Unfortunately, the traditional means of transforming your BSA/AML processes are woefully inadequate. But there are new technologies helping accelerate and increase the success of BSA/AML transformation.

Does Your AML/KYC Process Add Risk?

While it is the responsibility of all employees, partners, and suppliers to prevent an organization from facilitating financial crimes, Client Lifecycle Management (CLM) and Compliance are the two departments playing key roles in defining and implementing the required internal controls. CLM is the first line of defense within any organization. Compliance acts as the second line of defense, responsible for policy making, escalation, and resolution, as well as performing independent risk management. Auditors, the third line of defense, ensure any risk governance framework complies with regulatory guidance.

Three Lines of Defense Model

Before taking on a new client, a due diligence process is generally conducted to evaluate the client’s risk rating. It begins with a basic understanding of the client’s identity, the risk involved, and an understanding of their financial habits. Onboarding high-risk customers and politically-exposed persons requires enhanced due diligence with additional assessments of the client’s geographic location, source of funds, and purpose of the transaction, and may require ongoing monitoring.

This is an important task that typically happens as follows:

  1. Pre-onboarding checks are conducted by working with Sales, Risk Management, Legal, Compliance, and others to collect and review relevant client data, product information, and documents as mandated by the regulatory authorities.
  2. Teams then update multiple systems of record to ensure a client’s readiness to transact.
  3. Post-onboarding processes then include on-going client reviews and continuous monitoring, managing client and counterparty data and records, and potentially, client off-boarding.

This process can quickly become complex, especially at global organizations spanning multiple geographies with various policy interpretations, competing rules and regulations, and related data housed in multiple and disconnected software applications. That last point adds risk, especially when data is not integrated, thereby forcing considerable amounts of manual, repetitive, error-prone work. The result is increased operational, reputational, and financial risk.

Additional risks arise from policy interpretations and potentially incorrect execution of processes, which both depend on the experience of KYC analysts. It is indeed demanding for analysts to make critical decisions that require focused thinking while concurrently performing important yet mundane manual data-entry tasks.

Add it all up and your AML/KYC process is exposing you to more risk, which is exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to do!

Transforming BSA/AML with Success

Transforming any enterprise process can be daunting, for good reason. A study by McKinsey & Company indicates that a staggering 70% of large transformation projects fail to deliver expected results. Reasons may include unclear objectives, lack of leadership, and lack of commitment. But looking deeper, transformation projects are frequently derailed when teams underestimate process complexity. It’s a huge undertaking to identify the appropriate processes, perform detailed current state assessments, develop business requirements, and keep an eye on budgets. Then, for any transformed process, adequate training is required, and even minimal employee turnover can add to the challenges.

When focused on AML/KYC processes, the need for a successful transformation can be critical to your organization’s survival.

But help is available from point solutions such as Microsoft Power Automate, which uses Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to help organizations streamline, standardize, and automate routine tasks. Many financial institutions are also leveraging cognitive natural language processing (NLP), with focused solutions such as DDIQ by Exiger, to accelerate adverse media and sanctions screening processes related to clients.

AML/KYC platform providers can help streamline end-to-end processes. But successful implementation of these types of platforms largely depends on the quality of the business requirements and clearly defined compliance policies. It’s also dependent on the prevailing regulatory rules, final user acceptance testing and training. In reality, it takes many months for organizations to fully understand and effectively leverage these platforms, which adds further delays to already complex transformation projects.

FortressIQ is playing a key role in a successful AML/KYC transformation by converting a process problem into a big data problem. FortressIQ performs detailed current state assessments to provide near real-time process intelligence. It then provides the insights to make data-driven decisions.

Using computer vision, NLP, OCR, and deep learning algorithms, FortressIQ will:

  • Capture tasks at the most granular level, with no bias or blind spots;
  • Provide faster time to value by generating detailed, enterprise-wide process insights in just 2-4 weeks and without consuming worker time; and
  • Cost much less than human consultants, including eliminating documentation errors and the related rework.

Insights provided by FortressIQ can be leveraged by functional and transformation teams to collaborate on areas that matter: process enhancement, automation, and training.

Effectively managing your AML/KYC risk is critical to the success and reputation of your organization. Process intelligence and emerging technologies can help mitigate these risks, speed up the transformation journey, and enhance the customer and employee experience. It could also prevent a AML/KYC violation, which is becoming an increasingly expensive prospect.

Modernizing Corporate Compliance Programs with Data Analytics Tools

Incorporating data-driven capabilities into corporate compliance programs speeds response, extends coverage, and eliminates bias. But despite the value added by operational data, the pace of adoption has been glacial. That may be changing, however, courtesy of an unexpected stakeholder: the government. The result is that, as companies are scrambling to meet these new compliance expectations, they are finding surprising benefits.

Nudging Compliance to be Data Driven

This past summer, the U.S. Department of Justice instructed its prosecutors to ask companies under investigation whether their compliance teams have access to data. If so, they’re further asked if it is being used to test policies and monitor for risks. The authorities have even shown a willingness to cut penalties for companies that have implemented data analytics or monitoring tools into their compliance programs. This bias towards leniency is a major incentive for compliance officers to explore solutions that can provide access to financial and operational data.

While other parts of the businesses, most notably Sales and Finance, have long used data to drive decision-making, the adoption of analytics tools in Compliance has been slow. Budgets are often a constraint, but there is also the cultural issue of not wanting to uncover unknown issues.

Companies should be embracing the shift, however, and not only because data-driven companies tend to outperform their peers. According to Forrester Consulting, businesses that rely on data management tools to make decisions are 58% more likely to beat their revenue goals than non-data driven companies, and they see an 8% boost in customer trust. The benefits are clear and compelling.

Compliance-Centric Analytics Tools

One challenge for compliance officers in adopting data analytics tools is the lack of purpose-built solutions to support robust compliance programs. Some companies have begun the journey by simply hiring data scientists to support ad hoc exploration, or by tapping into a nascent market of third-party vendors with limited capabilities. A bespoke data analytics application may be appropriate, but it is a timely and costly proposition most companies are unwilling to tackle, instead preferring to delay implementation until solutions mature.

To help jumpstart compliance analytics programs, FortressIQ has adapted components of our next-generation cognitive process intelligence platform to serve customers today. The process archiving solution runs on-premise or in a virtual private cloud (VPC), and it can be up and running in less than 48 hours without any integrations. FortressIQ virtual agents are also non-intrusive, meaning they will not cause process disruptions or slowdowns due to network access or VPNs because they use very little bandwidth.

With FortressIQ, compliance officers can capture all the work happening right now and review it for insights when time or resources permit. They can also integrate FortressIQ insights into existing business intelligence platforms for broader and deeper analysis.

Automating Compliance in Our Current Reality

Today’s unprecedented business environment has forced organizations to adopt new distributed and remote work patterns at a breakneck pace, but that comes at the expense of existing compliance activities. Every organization has had to rewrite their playbook to deliver value in a new, uncertain world of broken supply chains, changing customer expectations, and evolving communication patterns. In addition, traditional compliance and process discovery methods in the form of on-site consultants or business analysts, which have typically been used to address strategic challenges, are currently not an option. That is especially true for those with a global, remote workforce.

Through trial-by-fire tactics, companies are triaging and re-engineering processes just to address the basic needs of their employees and customers. Countless hours, combined with trial and error, has enabled distributed teams to build tribal knowledge on new and innovative ways of delivery. But the need to overcome pandemic-induced obstacles has forced many companies to pause traditional compliance programs. That is unsustainable.

Anticipating that variations of today’s disrupted business environment will likely occur again, it is imperative that this business knowledge be converted into institutional comprehension. Compliance initiatives are an ideal starting point. And not just because of potential judicial leniency.

Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up: Where to Begin Your Process Transformation Journey

Developing a deep and detailed understanding of your business processes lets you root out inefficiencies, double down on operational excellence, and make better, more informed decisions to reach your goals. But simply mining system log files misses the details in every process, while deploying consultants to map processes takes time and disrupts operations. Instead, intelligently decoding how your people and processes really work, across systems and screens, and across your entire business, is a better approach.

Capturing process intelligence to understand business processes has traditionally been tough to obtain because the methods have been manual. The drawback is that it results in static, incomplete process data. Today’s technologies, which evolved from these traditional methods, offer an automated and intelligent approach that’s both faster and captures more detail.

Here’s how process insight capture has evolved:

  • Process Mapping is the traditional, human-based route where business analysts and consultants interview and look over the shoulders of your workers. It’s slow and expensive, the sample size is limited and incomplete, and it can’t realistically cover processes across the entire organization.
  • Process Mining is a back-end, system-centric approach that captures a narrow, step-by-step workflow based on how users interact with specific systems. This method requires access to log files, which limits coverage. It also misses tasks like data collection, calculations, or other steps performed in separate applications.
  • Process Discovery is a modern alternative to mining. It tracks workflow at the UI level, no matter who performs the task or which application is used. It excels at capturing discrete sub-processes, but has trouble scaling because it ultimately requires human evaluation of the results.
  • Process Intelligence advances process discoveryby using computer vision and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to uncover actionable process insights at enterprise scale. It has the speed and coverage to capture, record, and analyze granular steps in complex use cases, plus adds intelligence to quickly identify new opportunities.

This spectrum of process insight techniques is referred to as a top-down manual approach, versus a bottom-up intelligence-driven approach. They all help you gain a better understanding of processes, but the bottom-up approach offers more granular insights, faster and across a wider range of processes. The result is more business impact in less time.

Choosing an Approach to Gathering Process Insights

If you have process insight experience, you may lean towards combining multiple approaches to address specific requirements. But if you’re tackling a project for the first time, it can be difficult to determine the best approach.

A top-down manual approach adds the perceived expertise and guidance of a team of consultants. That can be helpful but adds more cost and time by a few orders of magnitude. On the other hand, a modern bottom-up approach offers deeper insights and faster results but puts the decisions in your hands.

So, the question is, do you take a bottom-up or top-down approach?

Top-Down Misses the Detail

Top-down process mining technologies piece together a process within a single system, but since they do not capture granular user level activity, they don’t capture all the key steps of users or systems. For example, process exceptions and variations are not reliably identified because they may involve activities outside the analyzed system.

Additionally, enterprises often run hundreds of applications. Many of those—including Excel and common email clients—don’t generate usable log files. So, any use of those tools will not be captured, and the resulting process maps won’t represent the complete business process. The missed steps then aren’t included in automation efforts, resulting in costly rework once deployed.

Bottom-Up Provides More Insights and Speed

In contrast, process intelligence and process discovery technologies capture detailed user activity across all systems and tools, covering every granular step, including task interdependencies and connections. There is no need to access APIs or log files to create the process maps, which speeds the entire project, and the more complete insights keep you from automating broken or inefficient processes. Analytics can also quickly compare processes and system usage across teams and tasks.

Speed is what really separates the top-down and bottom-up approaches. You can expect to receive business value in weeks with Process Intelligence instead of months with Process Mining.

Bottom-Up
Process Intelligence
Top-Down
Process Mining
ACCURACY
Completeness
Full capture of sub-process activity and variations Limited view of end-to-end functional workflows
SCALE
People & Process Coverage
Full coverage across all systems and teams Limited coverage to systems with log files
DETAIL
Degree of Specificity
Level 5 step-by-step process and sub-process details Level 3 general workflows
SPEED
Time to Value
Weeks to deploy to desktop sensors and collect data Months to integrate back-end systems and map data
EFFICIENCY
(reduced rework)
Granular activity data is comprehensive and actionable System-only data leaves process gaps

 

Start at the Process Itself

If you are exploring process insights for the first time, Process Intelligence is the logical starting point given its more comprehensive view of operations. It offers a faster time to value, takes less IT resources since you are not integrating with APIs or capturing log files, and is substantially less expensive and disruptive than unleashing a team of consultants into your operations.

As you eventually dig deeper for process insights, Process Mining could complement Process Intelligence, however. Combining both approaches provides the most comprehensive insight on the implications of a process. Interested in how FortressIQ provides process intelligence quickly and efficiently? Read our solution brief to see how you can get started.

Guaranteeing Privacy in a Time of Unprecedented Uncertainty

Three years ago, we founded FortressIQ with the idea that by leveraging computer vision, we could radically transform the way organizations understand their processes, thus accelerating their transformation. A little over a year later, we released our process intelligence platform, which has been deployed across Global 2000 companies in diverse industry segments. At the same time, the pace at which computer vision has been advancing is nothing short of breathtaking, but with great power (AI) comes greater responsibility. At FortressIQ, we believe that if we invest tens of thousands of hours in improving computer vision, we also have an ethical and moral responsibility to address use cases that can abuse those same advances. With that in mind, today we’re releasing Privacy Enhanced Gateway (PEG), the world’s first adaptive and learning computer vision-based firewall. And to stand unambiguous in the belief that privacy is a human right and that organizations who create technology that has the potential for abuse have an obligation to provide solutions to that abuse, we are making Privacy Enhanced Gateway a standard part of our platform at no additional cost.

With the adoption of FortressIQ across major global enterprises collectively employing over 5 million people, there’s proof in the industry that computer vision-based process intelligence can deliver unprecedented levels of information, creating an entirely new category of data and insights. The need for process intelligence has only become more critical with current workforce upheaval caused by work from home orders, global supply chain disruptions, and ongoing uncertainty. Part of our mission is to expand the usage of process intelligence to improve outcomes across the enterprise and to mitigate external forces at play. But, to attain the level of ubiquity that we’re seeking, we can’t ignore the security and privacy concerns associated with large-scale deployment of computer vision-based applications.

The scale of a challenge created by AI can only be solved with AI. This is why we took our expertise in computer vision (object detection, scene text detection, and recognition), natural language understanding, and data mining and created PEG, the world’s first learning and adaptive computer vision-based firewall.

A core component of our Process Intelligence Platform is the software-based sensors that are deployed on an end user’s desktop or laptop. These sensors tap into the video card of the machine and create a low bandwidth video of all screen activity, which streams to our cloud, where we convert the unstructured video into a structured log file. While we are HIPPA, SOC II Type 2, and ISO 27001 compliant, the idea of streaming a user’s activity (with the associated data) to our cloud, proves to be challenging.

Privacy Enhanced Gateway essentially takes some of the core AI from our platform and allows it to run at the edge under customer control. It is packaged as a virtual appliance that can be deployed on-premise or within a customer’s VPC on the cloud provider of their choice. Any sensors deployed then connect to their private gateway, which redacts all customer information from the video stream before sending the data onto us.

The core of this technology is a joint AI model which has learned the individual types of objects which compose a software screen, and the meanings of their labels and values. We can determine every control, like a drop-down list box or radio button, the label for that control, along with the data within that control. We then can redact the data leaving only the empty software screen remaining, thus alleviating the challenge of protecting sensitive data.

Using PEG, our customers get the best of both worlds. They can leverage the scale, cost savings, and rapid advancement of our cloud-based platform with the security and privacy of an on-premise deployment.

PEG takes us one step closer to unlocking the limitless potential of the global workforce by accelerating the responsible and ethical use of AI in the enterprise. We look forward to partnering with our customers to provide an unprecedented level of insights while at the same time proactively protecting the security of their data and the privacy of their employees. We’ve shown how computer vision-based AI can co-exist with privacy, and we invite other process intelligence vendors to join us in delivering responsible AI-based solutions.

Together, Humans and Software Agents Drive Enterprise Automation

“What is the calculus of innovation? The calculus of innovation is really quite simple: Knowledge drives innovation, innovation drives productivity, productivity drives economic growth.”

—William Brody, Scientist

 

 

Every company – no matter what size – knows that in order to remain competitive, you have to embrace change. Massive economic shifts tend to drive change more quickly and significantly, and this has never been more true or urgent. No matter what stage of your digital transformation journey you are in, the current environment is likely accelerating your process optimization initiatives. Additionally, the traditional emphasis on front-office activities need to be reevaluated. Most transformation programs in the last decade have focused on customer experience, but today, indicators suggest the emphasis moving forward will shift toward back-office operational excellence in departments including finance and accounting, HR, and procurement.

From the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, much has been written about the potential permanent job loss from the drive for increased automation in the enterprise. Experts predict up to 800 million jobs worldwide could be lost to automation by 2035. Enterprise veterans know, however, that the human element will never go away – it will merely change. While these headlines spark a lot of article views, they fail to address the positive opportunities and changes we will see in the workforce as a result of innovative automation.

Improved Employee Experiences

When done properly, automation should support and complement human activity. It removes the low-value, manual and tedious tasks that consume a majority of our work hours, letting employees focus on higher-value activities. Identifying areas where employees can add value by applying their skills to more strategic work not only increases productivity, but also overall employee happiness. The shift away from manual tasks has been going on since the Industrial Revolution, and HR departments are hyper aware that retaining employees is more cost-effective. A recent study by Employee Benefits News states the average cost of losing an employee is equal to 33% of their annual salary.

Increased Need for a Human-Centric Approach

When first approaching automation projects it’s important to validate the tasks and processes identified to make sure they are good candidates for RPA. Those who have been involved in enterprise workflow programs know the golden rule that there is nothing worse than automating a bad process; it simply magnifies the inefficiency. On the flip side, automating a good process has the advantage of magnifying the efficiency. Without the use of modern discovery techniques to accurately document the current state and identify process variations, it’s very difficult to distinguish a good process from a bad one. Automated discovery tools like FortressIQ surface the insights of tasks and processes at a detailed level previously unattainable with more traditional methods. Once this data is gathered, however, it ultimately needs a human element for success. Whether internal or external, process optimization experts, business analysts, automation SMEs, developers, project managers, and others will play a crucial part in successful planning and execution.

Enabling the Citizen Developer

The future of automation will see a shift from a more traditional top-down “you must automate” approach led by management to a bottom-up “how can I be more efficient” employee-driven trend. Bots will be packaged up with standard office apps and services to increase usage across organizations. Coupled with no-code offerings this will allow anyone – no matter what department or role they have at the company – to easily automate a tedious task or portion of their job without engaging IT. Imagine if sales executives could spend less time updating CRM systems, sales operations could auto-generate pipeline reports, product managers could consolidate and group customer feature requests from various channels, the finance and accounting department could eliminate copying and pasting of PO numbers into multiple systems, and if call center and support employees could auto-fill customer ticket information, among countless other examples to make life easier for employees. Putting the power of this technology into the hands of your workforce allows them to make data-driven decisions more quickly, increasing overall corporate performance.

The future of automation will be a seamless blend of the next-generation workforce and software agents, including bots and assistive technology. Enterprises who determine how to successfully incorporate these capabilities will remain competitive and relevant. It will improve their organizations and accelerate the pace of innovation. For a jump start on your RPA efforts, check out our handy guide, “Should my Enterprise Automate That?” available here.

Announcing our $30 Million Series B to Continue the Mission of Decoding Work

“We weren’t here to code the hosts, we were here to decode the guests…”

— Bernard Lowe, Westworld S2E7

And with that line, the audience learns the true purpose of the sprawling investment in Westworld, it’s not about building the best androids, it’s about understanding humanity.  Three years ago we set out on a similar mission, to build AI that can decode work. Today we’re excited to announce a new B round investment of 30 Million dollars with new investors, Microsoft’s M12 and Tiger Global, joining our existing investors Boldstart, Eniac, Comcast and Lightspeed, to help us deliver on that mission.

Since day 1 we’ve held the belief that the key to the future of work was locked in our inability to understand its nature. Opening that lock would start us on a multi-year journey pushing the envelope on computer vision, natural language processing, and sequence modeling. Along the way we’ve assembled an incredible team that shares a similar dedication to understanding how to best integrate AI into the global workforce. We’re excited to add to that team, and welcome Tamara Steffens, from M12 to our Board of Directors. I’m sure her decades of experience working closely with enterprise customers will prove invaluable as we scale FortressIQ.

First Contact

Early last year customers got their first glimpse at what we were building, and we got to see firsthand how they could leverage the process insights that our platform could uncover. It was eye opening to say the least. Our first conversations usually revolved around automation and cost savings, but as customers became more comfortable with our data, the conversations evolved. This new category of data we could provide fueled their ability to innovate, enabling them (for the first time) to make truly data-driven decisions to guide their transformation strategies. Since then we’ve had the honor of working with some of the worlds largest companies, helping banks, retailers, insurers, and CPG companies to better understand their organizational DNA through interpreting their processes.

We were extremely surprised to find out how starved most organizations were for this type of data. While they had incredible analytics on digital journeys from their web properties, they had a much more rudimentary understanding of their internal processes. Another interesting byproduct we observed was how much simpler the decision making process was when good data was available. For me this was one of the most exciting revelations. I believe people in general want to do the right thing, it’s just sometimes very hard in the face of organization inertia. Often decisions devolve to simply appeasing whoever is yelling the loudest, the proverbial squeaky wheel getting the oil. It’s also well documented that unrepresented communities don’t advocate for themselves as forcefully in these types of situations. With data, we can minimize the impact of the loudest voice and amplify the focus on the best actions. This is a firsthand, tangible way in which we can leverage AI to reduce bias, reinforcing our mission here at FortressIQ around the responsible and ethical use of AI in the enterprise.

The Road Ahead

With this new round of capital we’ll be doubling down on our efforts to build the system of record for work. Our experience over the last year as customers have leveraged our platform has guided us to deliver new ways for them to leverage process data to improve every aspect of the employee experience, which translates to a better customer experience, and eventually the bottom line. The largest area of focus for us will center around helping our customers to achieve results from our platform even faster. With that in mind, we’ll be building specific industry, application, and workflow accelerators that can deliver instant insights from process data. We’ll also be looking to expand our partnering platform, working with domain experts across the globe to deliver externally targeted solutions based on data that would be unattainable without a process intelligence platform like ours.

I’m excited to see how customers can leverage our platform to power their transformation journeys, and grateful for the support of my team and our investors as we endeavor to decode work.

Now back to building!

Changing the Game with FortressIQ & Microsoft Power Automate

Today I’m excited to kick off the next phase of our Microsoft partnership. FortressIQ + Power Automate, generally available starting today, make it possible to grow your business productivity by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks through digital and robotic process automation. With the integration of FortressIQ and Power Automate, we provide organizations with an end-to-end solution for intelligent automation–from cognitive process intelligence to AI-enabled workflows and business insight.