What are your firm’s greatest strengths? And how can you use technology to make them even stronger? These are some of the questions on the top of leader’s minds in 2021 with an acceleration of digital and systemic changes. Financial Services firms need to combine empowered employees, technology, and future readiness to achieve competitive advantage and sustainable growth.

What happens when you combine this business agility and intelligent operations? Firstly, you can enable your operating model to derive additional value. Secondly, an agile, data-driven operating model can help you gain new capabilities and improve current ones. Thirdly, you will gain competitive advantage. In our previous blog Marina shared the changes happening in the industry and how intelligent operations could help. Here we focus on some of the use cases and tangible business outcomes of intelligent operations to help you drive competitive advantage.

“The biggest opportunity is in operations. We have vast operations departments because processes are not there, and data is incorrect. You have 1000s of people covering the cracks…Fixing this and getting it 100 percent right is the biggest opportunity. It will make our clients happy and enhance our service.”
– Head of Strategic Development, Top Tier European Bank* 

Mitigate risk and reduce data silos

Adult male in an office setting sitting at a desk with his hand poised over the keyboard of a black Microsoft Surface Pro 7 in laptop mode. Microsoft Excel visible on labptop and Microsoft PowerBI screen seen on monitor.End-user computing (EUC) are applications like spreadsheets, databases or reporting tools that are not often developed or maintained in a robust IT environment, but by separate teams. What this means is not only do you have operational data silos, but extra risks and increased costs. Add the lack of governance and integration with existing business applications plus data errors, security and more. All these are barriers preventing firms from being able to maximise data value.

By modernising operations with Power Platform, Power Apps and Power Automate, you can deliver operational savings and innovation. Turn EUCs into End User Solutions by providing a compliant and secure framework. It also reduces operational silos and data inconsistency and inefficiency. All those micro silos of data that are scattered across your organisation? They are now part of the larger data estate with full IT controls and management. Power Platform is built with security in mind. It has advanced encryption, rich access control, and deep integration with Azure Active Directory.

“We calculated that if anything went wrong with an Excel business critical process we had, the impact would be 100s of thousands – this made the investment in Power Platform immediate.”

Streamline workflows and processes

A person sitting on a couch using Power BI. A coffee table is in the background.Power Platform combines data to create a single source of truth. From there, you can build low and no-code solutions to analyse data and automate processes. A Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study Commissioned By Microsoft in March 2020 on Power Apps found that organisations were able to reduce app development and costs by 74 percent.

Microsoft’s Commerce Compliance Engineering (CCE) team uses Power Platform for their compliance evaluation process. By moving to Power Platform, this time-consuming costly service was completed with 53 percent less effort. They even had a 36 percent increase in scope. As a result, they saved around $500,000 compared with FY19.

With Power Platform, you can automate time-consuming manual processes with robotic process automation and digital process automation. This means employees can focus on high value tasks to improve the overall customer experience. The increased productivity can also help reduce costs. The Total Economic Impact™ of Power Automate, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, April 2020, found that over $1.40 million of worker time savings were made over three years, with a 27.4 percent reduction in error.

Leveraging the speed of developing solutions via Power Apps, South African-based Standard Bank created a prototype mobile app within 24 hours. The app enables the bank’s 100 inspectors to record faults and capture images of ATMs. On a monthly basis, Standard Bank records 5,000 to 6,000 inspection reports — a process that was previously totally paper-based.

At Illimity, Italy’s first cloud-native bank, an IT Program Manager said: “The underwriting team has been able to reduce processing times from an hour per request to just 20 minutes. Now, it can respond to requests in a matter of days rather than a full week, saving a total of 15 hours a month.”

Increase collaboration and gain new insights

Two adults in face masks collaborating on a PowerPoint presentation in an office while using a Microsoft Surface Hub 2S 50” device during a Teams video call.Gaining insights from data helps you build competitive advantage and become more agile. Power Platform connects to Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI. Likewise, it links up with Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure. This connects your workflows to hundreds of data sources thanks to a library of connectors and Microsoft Dataverse. This helps to automate workflows and processes. In addition, it also brings all your data together into a single source of truth. You gain deep new insights into your business while improving collaboration between people and teams.

At PayPal, they wanted to enhance employee collaboration and reduce data silos. By connecting their data, PayPal not only improved their data discovery, they also found that employees were collaborating more to uncover insights and new ways to innovate.

”Microsoft Teams, and its interoperability with Power BI and Power Apps, has homogenised and eased not just meetings, but overall communication here at PayPal, and we see those benefits only increasing as time goes on,” says José Buraschi, Director of Program Management at PayPal.

Drive a new innovative employee culture

A woman sitting at a desk in a home office working on a laptop. It is connected to an external monitor displaying a PowerPoint file.Who knows best about the day-to-day running of any organisation? The employee. So, when you give them a solution that they can use to build automated workflows and processes you’re democratising the data process. Everyone has the opportunity to build efficiency within the organisation without coding knowledge.

“One of the most fundamental shifts that we’ve made as a financial services institution is to dedicate people to helping our business teams identify friction points in their working lives and then use technology to solve them. People are knocking on our door who we’ve never met, simply because of the speed to value that Power Apps provides,” says Ian Doyle, Head of Employee Experience Engineering.

You’re also creating competitive advantage by embracing digital ways of working. This means you’re more likely to acquire and retain talent who will be excited to innovate and drive your business forward.

By connecting your data and combining business agility with intelligent operations and empowered employees, you will create operational efficiencies that drive competitive advantage, help you create innovative customer experiences, and build long term business growth.

Find out how

Learn more: Power Platform

Read the previous blog: Build intelligent operations by empowering employees and connecting data

Discover real world stories: Power Platform in organisations

Download the report: Creating a blueprint for UK competitiveness

About the author

Janet Jones, Industry Executive – UK Financial ServicesJanet currently leads the Industry Strategy for Financial Services at Microsoft UK. She ensures that drivers of change and emerging technological trends across the sector are core to how Microsoft works with Financial Services organisations, supporting their digital transformation. Before joining Microsoft in 2018 Janet held roles within commercial banking; latterly at Lloyds Banking Group and prior to that, Barclays and RBS. She has a personal interest in cultural transformation and has also played an active role in supporting and driving the inclusion and diversity agenda during her career.