Digitalisation in the Back-Office

Digitalisation and automation is increasingly transforming business. Realising the opportunity to reduce cost and improve accuracy through digital advances, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, now has the potential to make or break a business.


The potential of AI and robotics is ever growing, with machines constantly improving and expanding with what they can do.


Categories of AI in the economic field include:


  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – aims to replace manual handling of automated processes for repetitive, high-volume tasks.




  • Cognitive Analytics (CA) – this approach mimics the human brain, and makes deductions from vast amounts of data.




  • Machine Learning (ML) – a process on which most AI is built, it requires use of vast amount of data to train a system and fine tune it.


  • Deep Learning (DL) – a specific advanced method of ML, it has enabled the extension of the overall field of AI using algorithms that attempt high-level abstractions in data.




The potential growth of digitalisation is staggering, industry researchers Optimas predicts the spending in AI field to increase by 75%, reaching $2.8 billion USD, by 2021.


Why is digitalisation on the rise?


Methods like RPA offer the ability to process data at the fraction of the time of human whilst delivering 100% accuracy. With  like this it’s obvious why this seems to be the way forward. However, what does this mean for employment?


Who will be most affected?


Companies in sectors with large back-office operations are flocking to RPA technologies that can automate repetitive tasks. The Defense Business Board reported that accounting, auditing and data entry had the highest likelihood of being replaced by automation, at 86% potential.


What has happened so far?


Many retail banks began replacing employees with machines years ago. In 2014, Lloyds Banking Group reportedly cut 9,000 jobs and closed 150 branches when implementing their digitisation strategy.


HSBC announced this year that they were opting to use IBM artificial intelligence technology in order to automate the processing of documents relating to international trade.


Currently, around 100 million pages of documents, such as invoice and insurance documents, are manually reviewed and processed by HSBC staff. AI technology uses optical character recognition to review documents and send them automatically to the bank’s transaction processing system.

HSBC states that it improves accuracy and gives staff more time to do “value-adding activities”. They are currently using the technology to analyse documents in English but are aiming to adapt and expand the system to read other languages, including Chinese, French and Spanish, demonstrating increasing global robotisation.


What does the future look like?


Artificial intelligence isn’t restricted to the back-office. It is developing more and more in customer-facing technologies, such as robots that can answer customer questions and direct them to the right agents, which is a project Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is working on.


Other areas include production, in which robotisation can offer more precise work than humans (for example 3D printers), and the growing interest in autonomous driving, for example self-governing vehicles and drones which have the potential to replace public transport, taxis or delivery drivers.


The digitalisation and automation of services worldwide is a phenomenon which will in many cases will result in increased levels of unemployment. In fact, a survey by the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans expect that a robot or an intelligent algorithm will be doing their work within 50 years.


However the efficiency it offers will ultimately will bring growth and prosperity, with the major share of jobs shifting into different into different sectors. So we don’t need to worry too much about little Wall-e stealing our job.


Stay up to date with our blog for future insights from Metamorphic on digitalisation and automation.