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Branch Robots and the Hype of Tomorrow Can Hold Your Credit Union Back


Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Financial Services Practice Group, Kronos

The raised concerns over a possible downturn in jobs, caused by robots taking jobs in the branch, has thus far proven to be more hype than reality. Empty clickbait headlines are the only thing real about tellers being replaced by robots anytime soon.  Instead, people—not machines—dominate frontline and back-office functions of credit unions.

Many great advancements, available today, serve not as a replacement for the human component, but as an enhancement.These innovations are highlighted in a new white paper from Kronos, titled, Robots vs. Reality: Innovative Technology for Today, Not Tomorrow.

Combining people and technology

It’s true thatrobotic and intelligent process automation (IPA) is a rapidly advancing field, but relatively few financial institutions have ventured into this form of technology thus far. According to a recent PwC Financial Services IPA survey, only 9 percent of respondents reported having IPA bots in production.Some firms encountered unexpected risk and control issues that have tempered adoption of this technology.

Quelling concerns about industry job loss is the growing realization that financial institutions need not choose between embracing technology and supporting their workforce.As the white paper points out, the organizations that are likely to do best in the financial services industry are those that successfully combine people and technology. The competitive advantage goes to those companies that use their technological strengths to empower their people by leveraging technology to optimize their workforce,improve the customer experience, and ultimately boost their bottom line.

Committing to breakthrough advancements

Making the financial commitment for breakthrough technologies can be difficult, given how rapidly the tech world advances. It’s like trying to jump on a fast-moving train. Some financial institutions may be tempted to wait for “the next big thing,” but that hesitation imposes an inherent risk in falling behind competitors that have caught the train and are integrating advanced solutions into their organizations today. Forward-thinking companies figure out how to integrate digital innovations into their physical channels as a way to enhance the customer experience, deploying cutting-edge technologies that allow them to gain competitive advantage in their markets.

Financial institutions looking to upgrade their technology should begin by creating a flexible information technology platform. This will help them shrink development and integration cycles when implementing new applications or on boarding third-party services. A flexible platform enhances the ability to integrate core business systems with an ever-expanding digital ecosystem using a convenient software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

Using open application programming interfaces (APIs) allows credit unions to keep pace with the latest innovations in their quest to create new revenue streams and take on the role of disruptor. A robust API and integration platform offers virtually unlimited extensibility while also simplifying integration.

Growing capabilities

Other up-and-coming technologies hold the promise to enhance efficiencies and customer service. Artificial intelligence (AI), coupled with machine learning, will likely become more important in relatively short order. More than half of those responding to PwC’s 2017 Digital IQ Survey report that they are making substantial investments in AI, and nearly two-thirds said they will be doing so in the next three years.

AI includes such capabilities as advanced forecasting, proactive labor compliance solutions, and personal digital consultants to help frontline managers work smarter and more efficiently.One bit of good news about AI, in comparison to robotics, is that financial service employees don’t feel particularly threatened by it. According to a 2018 Coleman Parkes Research, Automation and New Technology Study conducted on behalf of Kronos, about two-thirds of respondents view AI as a means to simplify processes and ease their workload.

Any discussion of leading-edge technologies must encompass the continuing need for state-of-the-art mobile solutions, which are a big factor for today’s on-the-go workforce. Younger workers are especially likely to choose their employers based on the quality and quantity of the mobile tools they offer.

Consumers are likewise on the go, so financial institutions need to deliver personalized services promptly and efficiently. For example, next-generation appointment-setting solution senable customers to book appointments in a matter of seconds, using geo location technology right from their smartphones, tablets, or computers.

Another major technological innovation is the use of advanced analytics to guide strategic decisions. Implementing an advanced analytics strategy involves collecting and crunching data and using the resulting insights to build business processes that allow organizations to improve their operations, enhance productivity, accelerate growth, and improve risk control.

Getting beyond the hype

Advanced technologies in the financial services sector are making a difference today, even as the hype swirls about robots, quantum hardware, and the Internet of Things. These concepts have yet to hit the mainstream, and it could be years before they reach their full potential. In the meantime, savvy credit unions would do well to focus their technology dollars on solutions that are already delivering results. Empowering managers and employees with flexibility, convenience, and guided decision making, these commercially available solutions can help businesses stay ahead of the competition.


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