The world is increasingly moving towards full-scale automation, and the robots assisting people at work are no longer just science fiction fantasy. In order to increase efficiency, more and more business processes are automated using smart algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. The financial area is one of those where automation trends are particularly pronounced. How do such trends change the banking industry and what do they mean for professionals working in this area?


Half of the team members are robots


While some may still imagine that a bank is just a large safe vault containing a huge pile of money, such an image is very different from reality. Modern banks are more like technology companies that create and apply innovations, analyse enormous flows of data, and rely on continuous movement of information. As a result, modern banks cannot do without the help of robots.


Andrius Araneckas, Team Leader of Domestic Payments Team at Danske Bank believes that automation of banking processes with the help of robots is critical for ensuring smooth bank payments and avoiding human errors. Andrius is half joking that his team currently employs more robots than humans.


“We work in a team of ten and we’re assisted by eleven different robots to ensure smooth operation of certain processes or their parts. These robots together do the job of 4-5 regular employees. A total of 24 robots are currently working at the Payments Department overall. To fulfil the functions these robots perform we would need 12 additional staff members”, says Andrius.


Saves tens of thousands of euros


According to Andrius, robots mainly perform routine, pre-programmed tasks that would consume a lot of human time. There are also solutions that implement highly complex processes related to payment execution, verification and search for relevant information in databases.


“We've estimated that robots helping our department alone allow us saving up to 90,000 euros a year. For example, one of the most effective robotic solutions which every morning retrieves the necessary information from relevant databases and sends payment-related inquiries to other banks, allows our team to save more than 10 thousand euros a year,” says Andrius.


However, cost saving is only one of the reasons for this accelerated automation of processes. According to Andrius Araneckas, even more importantly, automation allows the bank professionals to focus on non-standard tasks that require analytical thinking and creativity, while ensuring that all the processes are performed faster and more efficiently, and helping to avoid costly human mistakes.


A job ad will not suffice to find a right robot


Without a doubt, to be able to benefit from such innovations, considerable efforts have to be made to “employ” appropriate automation solutions. Differently from the case of ordinary professionals, at least for the time being, it does not suffice to publish a job ad for a particular open position. Robots are developed by carefully analyzing processes and finding opportunities to entrust them to technologies.


“As a general rule, an initial task is to identify processes or their individual sections that are time-consuming and could be automated. Robotics specialists then perform calculations and assess whether there are certain tasks that could be performed by special algorithms. This is followed by a search for appropriate technical solutions, testing and evaluation of the benefits of such measures. Thus any attempts to make the processes more efficient by means of automation normally requires a fairly large amount of resources”, says Andrius.


Is robot a human being too?


Andrius also mentions that even the most advanced robots are not always able to perform certain tasks assigned to them. That is most often not due to their own fault, though.


“It happens that a robot is not able to perform all the required actions. This usually happens because of a bottleneck or upgrade of the systems that the robot has to interact with, or when the movement of required information is delayed at certain stages of the process. However, such cases are relatively rare and problems are quickly identified and addressed. In 99% of cases, robots are really reliable and committed employees who not only do their job effectively, but also report on the tasks performed to our team,” says Andrius.


In addition, for robots employed in banking overtime or any weekend work is no problem at all. Andrius tells us that some of them work at night, so that in the morning people can immediately use reports and information generated by the automated systems. Employees really appreciate these efforts of their computer colleagues, and often give names their robotic aids, or even celebrate their birthdays.


Saving oneself from boring work


Andrius Araneckas believes that automation of business processes is imminent. An increasing number of processes, not only in banking but also in other areas are being robotised, enabling organisations to enhance their efficiency and provide their customers with better quality services.


“There is no need to fear that robots one day will take jobs away from people. On the contrary, they are the means to allow people to focus on more interesting work, not to drown in monotonous, routine tasks, and to better realise their abilities. What is more, at least for now, even automated processes need to be managed, supervised, analysed – let alone their development. Robots should be looked at as work-mates that facilitate task performance. They simply allow us to do more within less time and more cost efficiently”, says Andrius.