Expert Q&A: Blue Prism's Paul Swaddle shares the benefits of applying Robotic Process Automation to due diligence
20 May 2020 3:14 pm by Mark Dunn
Paul Swaddle is Pre-Sales Manager for the EMEA Technology Alliances Program for Blue Prism®, and an expert on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). In an interview, Paul told us how RPA is transforming all aspects of companies’ operations, and third-party due diligence in particular.
Tell us about Blue Prism and RPA?
Blue Prism is a leading authority who invented the whole RPA space over 17 years ago. We provide software robots (digital workers), that can be trained to intelligently mimic the interactions your human workers have with your business systems. These digital workers can then perform the repetitive tasks you that are not suitable for humans to be performing, 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day if need be.
How will introducing RPA benefit companies?
By “taking the robot out the human”, companies release their human capital to concentrate on more productive, rewarding work, leading to a more agile, dynamic and responsive workforce where human and digital workers collaborate for the best possible business outcomes. Letting the robot perform the hard, repetitive work results in high levels of efficiency and business responsiveness while simultaneously lowering operational costs and increasing profit.
It is always a magical moment for me to witness a company have that “light bulb” moment when they understand just how this new digital worker, “cyber shoring” capacity can be applied to their business, then witness some of the truly miraculous innovation and results. It can impact every single functional area of a company in any sector—Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Utilities, Telco, Logistics etc.
What are the advantages of these robots, or digital workers?
They guarantee a good level of accuracy. If I’m asking a digital worker to perform a certain task, it won’t get tired or come back after a break and forget what it was working on. It performs tasks faultlessly, and this accuracy can reduce the risk of missing smoking guns while performing due diligence work.
In fact, a recent quote from one of our clients using Blue Prism to respond to situations the Covid-19 crisis caused with unprecedented agility (so far saving over 2000 hours per year of manual effort and preventing a serious customer relationship issue) said, “The benefits are not just time savings, but making the process robust.”
Can RPA support third-party due diligence?
Absolutely. We have already delivered a number of successful due diligence use cases within the financial services sector. These typically focus on due diligence teams who are spending most of their day searching for content and information about financial affairs as part of a due diligence process, accessing different systems (commonly referred to as “swivel chairing”) to find this information. This was not a good use of highly skilled individuals’ time resulting in errors, attrition and sub optimal responses to time-sensitive investment opportunities.
RPA automated these boring, repetitive information retrieval, investigation and data entry tasks. The results? These experts could concentrate on the thing they really enjoy doing, which massively reduced attrition within the business (despite these skilled workers being in high demand elsewhere) and had an extremely positive impact on investment responses.
Can RPA help to meet regulatory expectations, e.g. ongoing due diligence monitoring and reporting?
Absolutely everything that occurs in Blue Prism is audited and referenceable. If you take a client such as a leading bank as an example and think about all the different systems the bank uses, RPA allows us to integrate with these systems to create a single regulatory report every single day that the bank must integrate and send to the state’s regulatory authorities. If they don’t do that report reliably every day, the bank cannot trade the next day. This is the level of operational significance placed on RPA in many organisations.
What are the best practices for implementing RPA?
RPA predominately has to be business-led but involving IT where it naturally should do (rather than be another large-scale project which draws on their limited resources). Yes, the IT department should focus on providing infrastructure and making sure the capacity in the system is good, but RPA should be used to provide the business with a simple way to achieve their aims and ambitions in the shortest possible time, at minimal cost and with maximum impact.
The creation of a Centre of Excellence in the business, led by a transformational visionary with a “can do” attitude along with the Centre’s backing by the most senior executives is a key. These Centres should create a pipeline of robotic process automations that the company should be working on; identify low-hanging fruit and suitable candidates for RPA; and set protocols of what IT needs to do. They should take into account and positively manage considerations like workers’ questions about whether robots will take their jobs. They should operationally assess the impact of deployments of RPA and report back to the organisation on what alterations are needed.
Why have you partnered with Nexis Solutions®?
I’m really excited about the wealth of information that exists within Nexis Solutions that allows us to have such a positive impact on so many different sectors and all aspects of business. I’m particularly excited to see what we can do together with regard to helping companies with their supply chain adherence to anti-slavery legislation and ethical drivers. When you combine that with our RPA software, we can make a real-world difference, and that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
What is your prediction for the evolution of RPA?
I am already seeing that a Connected RPA philosophy—bringing people and technology together in a highly agile and collaborative way—has become a key cornerstone to any AI initiative. Companies can get wrapped up in AI because they see it as exciting and cool but if you distil it back, while extremely clever, it is simply providing you with a percentage level of confidence about something you’ve asked it. It’s how you feed those systems with as much data as possible to improve the value they provide as well as how you act on what it is telling you that in conjunction with RPA makes such an exciting and powerful combination.
Ultimately the technology is only as good as the information you are putting into it, so if we can feed reliable information from Nexis Diligence into the processes under our control and any AI, we get a bigger and more accurate model which allows companies to take bigger and better decisions at significantly lower risk and reputational exposure