Lasting technological benefits: but only if you implement RPA but don’t neglect the bigger picture

When you adopt robotic process automation (RPA), the main focus is on short-term added value in the form of cost savings and efficiency gains. A centre of excellence will enable you to bundle your organisation’s automation activities, define the priorities in a book of work, and manage the successful execution of RPA solutions. But RPA is no substitute for thinking strategically. Whatever you do, you should keep the long term in sight and make sure your process and IT landscape remains fit for the future.

RPA increasingly figures on the management agenda at large corporations, and big banks in particular. Wherever there are opportunities to automate large volumes of manual tasks and close gaps in information process, RPA offers attractive rewards in the form of cost savings, increased effectiveness and efficiency, reduced error rates, and the chance to free up personnel resources for more highly qualified tasks.

RPA solutions are generally used for a wide variety of processes in different business units and divisions. So the key question for management is how to coordinate the RPA initiative on an enterprise-wide basis, combine it with other systems using application programming interfaces (APIs) and enhance it with technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and how to align it with the company’s compliance and risk management requirements. Setting up a centre of excellence (CoE) is a good way of coordinating and monitoring these efforts.

A CoE, often called a competence centre, is where an organisation brings together the management, best practices, research and training relating to a specific topic of focus, such as a technology, business approach or competence. In technology companies, the CoE concept mostly has to do with new software tools, technologies or corresponding concepts.

Targeted use of energies and synergies

A CoE bundles all RPA-related competences and initiatives, trims the overall course, and measures the achievement of objectives. The CoE has a systematic structure and a clear hierarchy (see Figure 1), and is designed to ensure compliance with the relevant external and internal standards. A structured CoE can be set up in house, outsourced to a strategic partner, or operated with a combination of internal and external specialists.

A well-structured CoE brings together the many layers of RPA expertise to create a powerful organisation.

Multilayered excellence

To perform the management and control function for all the company’s RPA efforts, a CoE should ideally include different functions and draw on the experience of specialists.

  • Governance and strategy: This area regulates the interplay of all RPA-related activities and keeps them on track across the company. It’s here that the company defines what it wants to achieve with RPA overall: what legal, regulatory, economic and social requirements are to be met, and how objectives are to be reported and, ultimately, monitored.
  • Change management: RPA applications lead to technological, organisational and process-related changes. Change management provides the corresponding guidelines.
  • Knowledge management: One of the keys to the success of RPA is knowledge of the way things fit together and the different impacts and implications. This section of the CoE is responsible for building, deepening and sharing this knowledge and securing it for the long term.
  • Guidelines and standards: This function regulates the entire technical component, covering areas including certification policy, service management (e.g. for releases), the definition of data models and key performance indicators, and all monitoring with a view to regular optimisation.
  • Technology architecture: When you deploy RPA solutions you need clear specifications for the tools to be used. This area covers the evaluation, selection, licensing, implementation, commissioning and maintenance of RPA instruments. This is also where you address the question of how far the architecture should also include other technologies such as AI.
  • Implementation: This organisational area covers the actual execution of RPA solutions, from set-up through operation to maintenance. The book of work defines the criteria for prioritising the tasks involved. This is also where the organisation estimates the benefits of RPA, defining the tangible and measurable added value it expects its RPA architecture to deliver, and how it intends to reinvest it.
A CoE has various core functions designed to ensure the sustained effectiveness of RPA technologies.

From a centralised to a decentralised structure

Global organisations intending to systematically deploy RPA have a much more complex framework to consider than a company with only one home market. The operating models of their CoEs will differ accordingly. A centralised model will be led by a team with common resources, and will usually be based at the place where the organisation (and its technology) is headquartered. In the decentralised approach, the RPA monitoring function is carried out by different business units, usually geographically separate. The hybrid model represents a combination of these two approaches. What all these approaches have in common is that they are designed to bring together knowledge and controls to ensure that the organisation’s RPA- and compliance-related goals are met.

In a nutshell

When you implement RPA you have to work out how to make sure this new interface technology will deliver lasting benefits. A well-thought-out centre of excellence will help you coordinate your RPA efforts, channel your resources and harness synergy. But there’s more to it than that. The benefits of RPA are primarily short-term: cost savings, greater efficiency, freed-up resources and lower error rates due to manual interventions. This economic immediacy is what makes the technology so attractive. But it’s by no means enough. RPA solutions make your IT and process landscape more complex, and they may lead you to put off thinking about fundamental changes you need to make to your architecture, such as replacing a legacy system. You should use RPA technology as a way of making short-term savings while using existing IT systems, giving you the time and flexibility to make sure your IT architecture meets the long-term needs of your organisation. For RPA to deliver long-term technological benefits, you have to keep sight of your longer-term, strategic initiatives. In other words, implement RPA, but don’t neglect the bigger picture.



Alexander Schultz-Wirth
Partner Financial Services – Business Technology
Office: +41 58 792 47 97

PwC @ Salesforce Essential Zurich | 4 July 2017

“Forge new paths and inspire clients”


On 4 July 2017, the Salesforce Essential event, which featured the keynote speech “Forge new paths and inspire clients”, took place in Zurich. It was a whole day of speeches, discussions and breakout sessions around the keynote speech, and offered interesting insights into the digital world of Salesforce. In the Samsung Hall foyer, a Salesforce partner exhibition took place alongside the event and our PwC stand invited those interested to learn more about our capabilities and discuss hot Salesforce trends. In one of the breakout sessions, we had the opportunity to present our E2E implementation approach at Bank Vontobel.

Our “How to eat the big white elephant” breakout session gave insights into our large Salesforce transformation project at Bank Vontobel. The key factor for success was defined as slicing the project – the big white elephant – into the right pieces, supported by the right approach. Oliver Ripplinger and our client Mark Berger presented the solutions provided for a complex CRM implementation within the highly regulated banking sector. To come back to the elephant, our team used a proven agile approach paired with our own framework.

The agile approach that we presented included PwC’s BXT framework, standing for Business, Experience and Technology. Within the Business dimension, the bank’s CRM future strategy is broken down into requirements. The Experience element allows us to assess requirements in terms of customers’ and employees’ expectations and to create prototypes for quick, visible results. The technological dimension covers integration into the existing ecosystem and ensures the realization of new user experiences.

If you have not had the chance to meet us at Salesforce Essentials, then please contact us directly. We would be happy to share our Salesforce insights and expertise with you personally.


Alexander Schultz-Wirth
Partner Financial Services – Business Technology

Oliver Ripplinger
Manager Digital Strategy – Business Technology

Stefan Dobritzsch
Senior Consultant Digital Strategy – Business Technology

Video onboarding – why or why not to jump on the bandwagon

Everybody knows the “traditional banking” industry faces not only challenges in some parts of its business model, FINTECS and technology companies try to take on the big old economy in many ways. As if it were not enough, regulators constantly increase burdens and make it even more difficult to extend margins.

However, the recent announcement to lift the regulation for “video verification” is a good example to fight back and it opens opportunities to:

  • streamline processes and to reduce costs
  • improve customer experience
  • expand market share beyond traditional reach


Cost reduction

First of all, video onboarding gives the opportunity to review the existing KYC process and to reduce non value add activities. The idea is to allocate the advisor’s time better on customer activities, such as sales. Moreover, the future outlook will be to rethink the traditional branch network. Hence, a scalable onboarding solution can help to shift efforts and reduce impact of a branch network reorganisation on market share. On the other hand, costs to manage the additional video onboarding process will initially occur, e.g. specific training, and it will also be necessary to scale up online onboarding to realise benefits.

Customer experience

The traditional onboarding requires face time of the client to existing opening times. An online process can help to create a positive response from users and can strengthen the perception of a bank to be “digital savvy”. It saves time and matches in an increasing convenience driven digital world. Additionally, responsiveness towards a customer request might make the difference when a client decides for an offer. On the contrary, if the process is not thought through, it might create a negative experience and could lead to frustration of the user/prospect. Hence, one of the focus area of such solutions should be the “digital journey” and to incorporate feedback around that journey via KPIs.

Expand market share

Furthermore, first learnings can be applied down the line in areas such as mortgage advice. The current process to get an appointment for mortgage advice can be a pain as resources are limited. Video onboarding might help here to scope discussions and balance the load, while keeping the experience at the same level.

Cultural shift

The digitalisation of advisors is currently shaped by many trends, e.g. tablets, but only a few are able to really use the whole tool kit as it is simply unknown what type of problems can be solved with technology. Hence, little things such as video onboarding can help shape awareness and open their minds and hearts to really understand personal benefits of technology. However, new change also creates resistance and a need for communication which is nowadays a big hurdle for big organisations. Not many companies spent enough time and effort to take their employees on the journey of digitalisation, which can result in frustration and finally the exit of experienced and well educated staff.

When to act

As previously highlighted, the introduction of video onboarding shows many benefits. It improves convenience for people who are not able to visit a branch within its opening hours. Nevertheless there is no full digital experience, as a customer is still required to send physically signed paper documents to the branch. However, this might be soon replaced with e-signing. Hence, an early step by step introduction of parts of the process can ease implementation efforts and support a positive customer perception of the bank’s digital presence.

Competition/ first movers

Front runners such as UBS and LGT have already leveraged the opportunity to use the online onboarding as a chance to test potential benefits. Looking on a global scale, banks, e.g. Lloyds, have already announced services to include video advice and try to think of it as a useful tool in the overall customer experience.

Integrate service (process and landscape)

Video onboarding can be integrated as SaaS (Software as a Service) or fully fledged managed service. The tricky bit is to integrate the solution not as stand-alone, but rather in an ecosystem to reduce manual efforts.


In conclusion, the opportunities outnumber the risks and efforts to introduce such a solution and it will soon become normal to verify an account via video onboarding. The earlier you get onto such incremental digital changes, the better you can outrun your competition and be on the sunny side of being digital!


Find more information here.


Digital client identification – your optimisation strategy

As you might have heard FINMA recently announced to allow “Video Identification” for banks in Switzerland.

This change in regulatory restriction is an opportunity to lift benefits in the Digital Onboarding process and reduce your costs by

  • Making a strategic choice how digitalization will be part of the business model
  • Evaluating further cost reduction within the onboarding process
  • Achieving better user experience and service to reduce churn rate

Some industry players have already tapped into this opportunity to either drive early adoption or start to digitize and streamline part of the processes.

In a short presentation PwC will brief you on the situation, opportunity and our tools to lift those benefits. We would like to offer meetings to discuss your specific situation and goals reflecting disruptive changes in the banking environment.

Let us jointly work out your solution.


Please contact our experts:

Holger Greif
Partner Digital
Phone: +41 58 792 13 86

Alexander Schultz-Wirth
Partner Business Technology Consulting
Phone: +41 58 792 47 97

Marc Achhammer
Phone: +41 58 792 21 04

Andrin Bernet
Partner Regulatory & Compliance
Phone: +41 58 792 24 44