By Daniel Hunter
Automated decisions made by computer programmes have cost more than one-third (37 per cent) of European financial services organisations money at least once in the past six months.
In addition, nearly one in three (31 per cent) said that they've lost customers in the same period as a result of an automated decision. The insights are from a new study called Humans and Machines, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Ricoh. The research investigates the impacts of technology upon human creativity and intuition.
“Automated processes can bring significant benefits to the financial services sector, and while technology may provide high intelligence, it is essential that the processes are reviewed and updated regularly by humans to ensure compliance with regulations, and that security standards and efficiencies are maintained,” says Rick Hewitt, Finance Director at Ricoh UK. When processes are optimised and systems are connected, a collaborative and creative working environment is enabled to better meet client needs.”
The research indicated that financial services executives recognise the business value automation can add and that sometimes human intervention need only be minimal. In particular, when asked where human imagination or intuition was most critical, just a small minority (8 per cent) said managing regulations and even fewer (6 per cent) said it was critical to ensure information security. However, human intervention remains essential for the majority of respondents when it comes to interacting with customers (46 per cent) and managing risk (31 per cent).
The highest rated challenge for the financial services sector (48 per cent) when it comes to dealing with technology is the sector’s ability to connect systems with each other.
“Keeping up with the pace of technology change and ensuring ongoing connectivity across systems isn’t easy. We know that technology is evolving more quickly than the processes or ways to use it. To successfully create connected systems, the financial services sector should focus on process optimisation and make changes to traditional ways of working. Increasingly, financial services executives are outsourcing the management of these tasks to third party experts, meaning they gain all the benefits while freeing up employee time to focus on core business activities,” says Hewitt.
Financial services executives are unanimous in recognising that the latest technology must not be hailed as the only route to future success. Almost three quarters (71 per cent) agree that technology in isolation, without a process to connect it, delivers little value, and 86 per cent said that human-technology interaction will only add value if the processes used to connect them are more creative.
Despite the challenges, the financial services sector remains optimistic about the benefits of technology. 41 per cent said their team’s best innovations of the past three years could not have been delivered without supporting technology, and one in three (30 per cent) said they could not even have been conceived without it. A further 78 per cent said that technology helps them to be more productive. As such, technology does not, as yet, appear to be taking over key activities such as decision-making or developing innovative ideas.
Hewitt adds: “It’s clear that technology plays an essential role in supporting new ideas for the financial services industry. The opportunity is to create a future where technology enriches human skills rather than competing with them, therefore empowering human creativity and innovation. The benefits will be improved business agility and the ability to deliver a better customer experience, with more efficient processes, that lead to more effective data security and compliance management.”
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