Process intelligence and automation have revolutionized all sorts of organizations. But different vertical markets require their own specific solutions, and it can be difficult for a company to know how to best start their digital transformation.
If an organization purchases individual point solutions like robotic process automation (RPA), process mining, or intelligent document processing from different vendors, they risk committing to their supplier’s available offering instead of the solution that uniquely meets the unmet, unarticulated needs of their customers. An RPA vendor might be able to build a great bot for a water utility organization—but, perhaps, a bot is not what the utility needs in the first place.
“An easy-to-use and comprehensive process intelligence and automation platform should work across verticals and drive optimization but not be defined by verticals or limited to just solving for today’s challenges,” says Steve Witt, Director of Public Sector at Nintex. “In order to realize the full benefits, you have to start with the right platform, a set of open-ended questions, access to numerous process experts, and a willingness to adapt.”
“Modern companies tend to work and communicate in much the same way with email and messaging platforms,” says Raffaele Malvaso, Senior Account Executive and Utilities SME at Nintex. “But at utilities, you have a large contingent of employees out in the field at any given time, often with outdated technology. They are taking notes, sometimes even by hand.”
Utilities intake client data, employee data, system data, and business data in different ways and end up with multiple separately stored systems of record. This vertical can be antiquated in other ways too and, traditionally, hasn’t felt the need to invest in customer engagement.
Malvaso’s previous work includes a successful run at Uber for Business. He says, “Uber has this amazing ability to pivot as a business and automate new undertakings, so it made a lot of sense for me to move directly into the automation space.” He believes that Uber’s disruption of taxi services around the globe is a major reason why many utilities are reconsidering their need to modernize.
“Customers now have higher expectations, and utilities know it,” says Malvaso. “Utilities need to offer a smooth customer experience. They want to onboard and retain customers with less repetitive paperwork. They can build low-code and no-code apps that allow direct client input and, in turn, cut down the amount of human error in recording and translating data.”
Organizations in the utilities vertical want to consolidate all of their disparate systems of record into fewer platforms. This is complicated by the fact that legacy systems often don’t allow data to pass system-to-system.
Malvaso says, “Today, digital forms can validate incoming data on-the-spot with lookups and text masks. That way, you can confirm immediately that the data is correct and streamline the user experience.” In the long run, this can push every utility closer to being able to establish a single system of record.
Governments and nonprofits, along with other regulated industries, are all demanding a higher degree of process transparency. It’s essential to have clear records of, say, who signed off on a $1 billion government purchase and the decision process that led to that transaction. Process automation and workflow can help facilitate this at many levels within the public sector.
Because of all the oversight in the public sector, it is often challenging for new technologies to get approved for use. The Department of Defense, for example, cannot implement new systems without significant vetting and consideration at a technology and policy level. Therefore, anything that makes it through the approvals process must be used to solve a variety of problems—today and in the future.
Low-code development is a Swiss Army knife that can be applied against countless challenges. Witt estimates that some 80% of public sector processes, like approval requests and other simple forms, are actually the same at their core and are highly repeatable. Therefore, public organizations can use commercial off-the-shelf software to get them most of the way to their goal and then use low-code development for last-mile customization. Low-code solutions can then be made to meet the unique needs of many government departments.
Automation within the federal government is not new. But now, government agencies have changed from automating ad-hoc processes to automating five hundred processes at a time. It’s a movement toward automation at scale. New technology is making it possible to automate a large percentage of the processes that couldn’t be automated in the past. But not all of this comes simply from technology advancements. Establishing a process centric culture has helped many government departments transform, driving new opportunities for efficiency and change.
“Traditionally speaking, banking, finance, capital markets, and insurance are profoundly risk averse,” says Darshan Jain, Industry Practice Leader, Financial Services at Nintex. “Nobody wants to be the first company to test-run a new technology. They wait for someone else to start the game and see how they fare.”
While the financial services industry does not share Silicon Valley’s “fail fast and learn” ethos, over the last 25 years financial organizations have become huge tech companies in their own right. Along with that, they have become more open to trying new things. Jain explains, “The risk aversion will never fully go away because they are handling massive amounts of money, but consumers now expect faster adoption of technology by banks and insurance companies that significantly lowers the friction in accessing their products and services.”
Jain started his career at Nestle before the first personal computers landed on office desks. He transitioned over to financial services in the 1990s and took an early interest in how technology would revolutionize the famously staid vertical. He was at the forefront of those decades of industry-wide change and was so impressed by RPA when it came out in 2014, that he started working with top-tier banks and insurance companies to adopt the new technology in their back-office and contact center operations, and worked with RPA pioneer Blue Prism before moving to his current position.
Due to its high regulations, financial services companies dedicate an ever-greater percentage of bandwidth to risk and compliance. While in the best long-term interest of the industry, compliance consumes significant time and cost. Wawanesa Insurance, for example, now saves over 15,000 person-hours annually by using RPA to automate manual data entry by brokers and claims employees – enabling nearly 100% accuracy and dramatically lowering compliance incidents.
As in other verticals, customers now expect their financial services from banking to insurance to be fast, immediate, and friendly. They expect banking to be compliant and stable, but to also interact more like other consumer businesses.
“Fintech and insuretech startups are the little fish chasing the financial services whale,” says Jain. “[The right tools] can help a big organization’s IT evolve quickly, safely and learn how to move faster. From low-code workflow tools to help standardize process inputs and outputs, sniffer tools like process discovery to get a complete read of what’s happening at the departmental level, to leveraging RPA for automating rules-based processes, large financial services companies can … stay competitive in a rapidly evolving technology landscape.”
Perhaps these tools are not supporting companies in a digital transformation, after all. The word “transformation” connotes an end state in which the change reaches a point of completion. Tools like these help verticals on their digital journey—for as long and as far as they want to go.