Harnessing intelligent automation for better collaboration between human and digital workers in the hybrid workplace, to better meet customer needs.

To meet the demands of the digital economy, many organizations are harnessing the collaborative power of human and digital workers to drive productivity.

At the recent Blue Prism World APAC 2022 conference, attendees learnt how these organizations are realizing the need to enable AI-powered digital workers, human employees and systems to work together seamlessly as a unified workforce.

In the financial services sector, FSIs are discovering how intelligent automation on the cloud is operationalizing AI, opening the fastest path to innovation and digital transformation. Needless to say, challenges abound too.

At the sidelines of the conference, DigiconAsia spoke with Chwee Chua, Global Head, Operations Innovation and Cognitive Science and Automation, Schroders, about the future of the FSI industry, and how the organization is moving to people-centric, digital-first financial services.

Chwee Chua, Global Head, Operations Innovation and Cognitive Science and Automation, Schroders

What are some key emerging trends in the FSI industry you’ve observed, especially in Asia Pacific?

Chua: The pandemic intensified the need for a smarter and fungible workforce, with emerging technology such as Intelligent Automation (IA) at the forefront of keeping pace with market changes and innovation.

According to KPMG, Asia Pacific emerges as the leading destination for wealth management and private banking globally. This is driven by the growing wealth in the region, as well as pro-investment regulatory environments in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Corporate clients are also looking for comprehensive, customized, and integrated solutions aligned to a digital economy. This is heralding demands for a scalable and automation empowered workforce with more low-code/no-code solutions.

What do RPA and Intelligent Automation (IA) mean to Schroders, and how is Schroders leveraging these technologies to foster innovation and transformation?

Chua: Transformation and innovation are at the core of Schroders’ business strategy as we evolve alongside clients’ needs and building solutions to deliver superior investment performance. Here at Schroders, we view RPA and IA as more than just a productivity tool, but a business accelerator, orchestration and risk mitigation tool.

With the desire to transform the way solutions are developed and advanced, and build an ideal workplace of the future, we needed to hit the technology refresh button with RPA and IA in 2017.

We started by using Blue Prism as the platform to enable our redefined workflow capabilities and business processes. We are leveraging these technologies to rejuvenate our business operations with an end-to-end intelligent automation solution that cover all infrastructure environments – on-premise, cloud, hybrid, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

This modernization has since accelerated the process transformation at our hub in Singapore, while setting up new delivery streams to multiple offices in the UK, Indonesia, and Switzerland.

We also established an RPA framework that is specifically catered to the Asset Management industry. The framework streamlines processes, like process scorecard, risk assessments, development framework, documentation requirements, design and quality assurance reviews as well as post-deployment support to be fully supported by digital workers.

More than 300 bots were delivered across five functions globally – Distribution, Operations, Finance, HR and Legal played a crucial role in supporting our innovation as employees were empowered with a platform to govern, manage and assign repetitive tasks to their digital counterparts. With a record bot runtime of 5,000 hours per month, our workforce was able to shift their focus to higher value-added tasks, enable business functions to prioritise strategic work, and provide faster insights to better decision making.

With the maturity and experience gained over the last few years, we now utilise Blue Prism as an orchestration tool with other platform tools for end-to-end business transformation

In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, some organizations are capitalizing on hybrid workforce opportunities. What is Schroders’ strategy for the hybrid workforce and hybrid workplace?

Chua: At Schroders, we acknowledged that siloed, repetitive workflow processes posed a productivity and efficiency challenge. Placing employees at the center of our purpose-driven digital transformation, particularly in the last two years, we prioritized modernizing the workflow infrastructure to boost our hybrid workforce capacities while keeping our employees informed our strategy.

In today’s hybrid working environment, this is especially important as trust needs to be established, not just between managers and employees, but also between human and digital workers. During the implementation process, we ensured that possible concerns related to people, technology, and processes were promptly addressed.