Q&A with Tuomo Sievilä, Robotic Process Automation Concept Owner at Nordea Bank
Q. What is driving your improvement strategy at the moment?
I currently lead Nordea’s retail RPA effort, so I would certainly say that robotics is what we are focusing on to deliver process efficiencies. Retail banking is the largest business area for our organization and it marked the first RPA initiative in-house. Based on our positive feedback and results, we are now also developing an overall capability relating to RPA for the enterprise. As far as this is concerned, our challenge is how to make it a service that is applicable across all business areas.
Q. How are you persuading the business to tap into this robotic capability?
It's up to the business which service it chooses to use. The business decides whether it wants to invest in robotics initiatives. Our early proofs of concepts and pilots have done a lot of good promotion for us. Different business areas are really interested in robotics, but it's not yet a plug-and-play solution. The key is really to provide an easy to use common infrastructure and methodology for the RPA tool and then leverage that.
Q. What kind of time-lines have you been working to?
Because RPA is so new many organizations have been rushing into it. We started evaluating it in the autumn of last year and started implementing the project in practice in January 2016.
Q. How did you choose the “right” RPA solution for your business?
We evaluated a number of providers and their tools to identify the one that was most suited to us. The right choice will differ for every organization. Given that we operate in a highly regulated industry [banking], we were looking for a strong track record in banking and robust compliance, security, and governance procedures. We wanted to "buy this in" rather than build it ourselves, on top of the tools.
Q. Why do you think robotics is so in favor at the moment?
I think the general trend for shared services or back-office kind of work is to centralize, standardize, and then offshore or outsource. RPA provides an alternative solution, and one that's easier to control and that can be kept closer to business operations. From that point of view, robotics is a tempting option. If your business is already used to process mapping and process efficiency, then robotics is simply another tool to achieve the same end. I have found that the business is fairly easily persuaded to trust robotics. In fact, many of the employees in our business units are actively bringing us tasks they would like the robots to handle. They recognize that robotics improves their own work processes.
Q. Where have your biggest challenges been?
In Nordea, we are hugely sensitive to the need for tight security around regulations. Our biggest struggles have probably come from ensuring that robust mechanics around compliance, security, and governance are in place and approved.