By: Prasad Chintamaneni
Robotic process automation is spreading across banking and financial services. The origins of automation extend back to 1745, when English blacksmith Edmund Lee patented the rotating fantail that keeps a windmill’s sails pointed into the wind. The first completely automated industrial process emerged toward the end of the 1700s, when American inventor Oliver Evans developed the automatic flour mill.
Fast-forward to the 2000s and the era of Digital Disruption 2.0: The world today is experiencing the impact of another monumental breakthrough – the emergence of robotic process automation (RPA). RPA uses software to automate repetitive processes that humans would otherwise do, freeing these people for higher value work. Use of enterprise robots can create a “virtual FTE workforce” that automates back-office administrative processes.
Automation can unleash reimagination
Bank processes are prime candidates for RPA application, as they are rules-driven, data-intensive and repetitive in nature, and they cross multiple systems. Decision points can be overhauled using RPA to drive efficiency and new business models.
RPA is becoming a hot topic at leading corporations. Software robots such as Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, IBM Watson and Google DeepMind are now mainstream, and they promise to fundamentally change how financial services are processed in the future. How?
RPA will change financial services
Consider customer onboarding, for example. Onboarding is a crucial element of building strong customer relationships. By getting the onboarding process off to the right start, banks can boost customer satisfaction, increase retention and drive greater share of wallet. They can combine multichannel capture, automated and adaptable workflows, and a flexible system integration capability to automate and accelerate the onboarding process.
Other processes could benefit from similar transformations, including mortgage processing, claims processing and customer service. UK software company Hello Soda, for example, uses RPA to create more complete credit-worthiness profiles by blending social media data with traditional credit scores. FundApps, a London-based technology provider, is automating shareholding disclosure and monitoring investment restrictions.
Reimagine begins now
In considering the possibilities of RPA, it is important to not simply automate for the sake of automating. Instead, start by reimagining the entire business process. Once that is done, robotics can take it to a whole different level.
This article originally appeared on the Digitally Cognizant Blog
Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) is dedicated to helping the world’s leading companies build stronger businesses — helping them go from doing digital to being digital.
Philips is all in when it comes to the IoT
Lights may be a familiar sight whether you’re at home or anything to say about it, lighting will soon do a lot more than just illuminate.
Stop reading for a moment and look up. Did you see a light on the ceiling, or maybe one over on the wall nearby? Of course you did. Lighting is everywhere we go — and not just indoors. It comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, and brightnesses, but if Philips Electronics has anything to say about it, lighting will soon do a lot more than just illuminate.
The Dutch electronics multinational — a leading global supplier of lighting technology — has announced that the IoT isn’t just an important technology, it’s going to be central to the company’s overall strategy in the future. That IoT-based strategy can be most clearly seen within Philips’ lighting division, where it even has its own name: Interact.
“You can imagine all these devices — lamps, drivers, luminaries, sensors — being connected, sending information through software,” Philips Lighting CEO, Eric Rondolat, told attendees at the Light+Building exhibition in Frankfurt, earlier this year. “And all this software sending this information back to a cloud-based platform, an IoT platform that is called Interact,” he said.
The Power of Occupancy Sensing
While some of data gathered by Philips lighting will be related to energy consumption and other operational parameters for the lights themselves, there’s a lot more smart lighting can do.
One big area that Philips and the rest of the lighting industry is eyeing is occupancy sensing. The global occupancy sensor market was worth USD$1.7 billion in 2017, according to Market Prognosis, and is projected to reach USD$4.8 billion by 2023. Those numbers are being driven largely by a North American push to increase energy efficiency. Being able to know when someone is in a space that requires lighting, or HVAC, can lead to significant savings. But that same data has other value too, and Philips plans to leverage machine learning to unearth hidden insights trapped in that data.
If these moves weren’t proof enough that Philips Lighting is betting big on the IoT, consider this: The company just hired former Cisco senior vice president, IoT sales, Chris White, to lead its Americas division. Then there’s the name. Philips Lighting announced in March that the company would change the company name to as Signify — a name it hopes will shine a light on the company’s beyond-lighting IoT focus.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
Navigating the AI Hype
Welcome to Navigating the AI Hype. This will be a timely article that curates events in AI to tabulate AI’s journey as this unprecedented phenomenon makes its way into our lives: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. We will acknowledge successes in AI as well as those that still require further progress. We will also highlight areas where human conscience will need to dictate policy and regulation as ethical standards will be built in lockstep with technology as it evolves. Finally, we will highlight references and resources for anyone wanting to dive in further into Artificial Intelligence. Enjoy!
Uber applies for permission to test self-driving cars again
“ We have taken a measured, phased approach to returning to on-road testing, starting first with manual driving in Pittsburgh. We committed to deliver this safety report before returning to on-road testing in self-driving mode, and will go back on the road only when we’ve implemented improved processes.”
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman makes record-breaking gift to U of T’s Faculty of Information for chair in AI
“Artificial intelligence will revolutionize how we live, creating both incredible opportunity for benefits, as well as some disruption that will be important to manage,”
MIT is investing $1 billion in an AI college
“Interdisciplinary learning should mean better, saner Artificial Intelligence”
The future of border control agents might come in the form of an AI lie detector
A six-month trial will take place at four border crossing points in Hungary, Greece and Latvia.
What to know about WhatsApp in Brazil ahead of Sunday’s election
“I don’t know where they found my phone number.”.
Google wants to improve your smart home with iRobot’s room maps
The idea of Google using data about users’ home will be justifiably unsettling to some. Although Google doesn’t have as bad of a reputation for data leaks and breaches as Facebook, it’s still had a number of serious lapses.
Australia’s data breach numbers steady at 245 in three months
“Everyone who handles personal information in their work needs to understand how data breaches can occur so we can work together to prevent them”
Radisson Hotel Group suffers data breach, customer info leaked
Radisson Hotel Group loyalty scheme members are affected and may have had their personal information stolen.
China has been ‘hijacking the vital internet backbone of western countries’
“Using these numerous PoPs, [China Telecom] has already relatively seamlessly hijacked the domestic US and cross-US traffic and redirected it to China over days, weeks, and months”
AI courses and resources
Canadians up in arms: Privacy without consent and the dangerous precedent
It’s the news that has taken Canada by storm of late, on Twitter, in the headlines, and in today’s parliamentary debate: Statistics Canada, Canada’s agency which issues statistical research on the state of Canada, its population, the economy and culture, unwittingly walked into the spotlight when Global News revealed the agency had asked TransUnion, a credit bureau that amasses credit information for many financial institutions to provide financial transactions and credit histories on approximately 500,000 Canadians, without their individual prior consent. The Liberal government has endorsed this move.
During the parliamentary debate, Conservative opposition Gérard Deltell declared,
If the state has no business in people’s bedrooms, the state has no business in their bank accounts either. There is no place for this kind of intrusion in Canada. Why are the Liberals defending the [Statistics Canada] indefensible?
The data being demanded, according to Global News, consists of private information including name, address, date of birth, SIN, account balances, debit and credit transactions, mortgage payments, e-transfers, overdue amounts, and biggest debts on 15 years worth of data. Equifax, the other credit reporting agency that supports financial institutions in Canada has not been asked to provide data.
Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities was vague in his response. While he affirms StatsCanada’s upstanding practices in anonymizing and protecting personal data, he also admitted proper consent was not received,
StatsCan is going above the law and is asking banks to notify clients of this use. Stats Canada is on their side… We know data is a good place to start to make policy decisions in this country, and we will treat the information in accordance with the law. They can trust Statistics Canada to do the right thing.
Statistics Canada and the Liberal government failed to disclose the explicit use of this information, however,
By law, the agency can ask for any information it wants from any source.
I posed this question to former 3-term Privacy Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, who currently leads the Privacy by Design Practice at Ryerson University, Toronto:
What’s troubling is that while the opposition cried foul, lashing out accusations of authoritarianism and surveillance, the latter outcome is not implausible.
- if the collection and use are clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely manner;
- if the collection and use with consent would compromise the availability or the accuracy of the information and the collection is reasonable for purposes related to investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada or a province;
- if disclosure is required to comply with a subpoena, warrant, court order, or rules of the court relating to the production of records;
- if the disclosure is made to another organization and is reasonable for the purposes of investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada or a province that has been, is being or is about to be committed and it is reasonable to expect that disclosure with the knowledge or consent of the individual would compromise the investigation;
- if the disclosure is made to another organization and is reasonable for the purposes of detecting or suppressing fraud or of preventing fraud that is likely to be committed and it is reasonable to expect that the disclosure with the knowledge or consent of the individual would compromise the ability to prevent, detect or suppress the fraud;
- if required by law.
For Statistics Canada, its broad legal reach is enough for the agency to circumvent explicit disclosure of data use and permission. This alone sets a dangerous precedent that wrestles with current European GDPR mandates, which will be referenced in the updated PIPEDA Act, at a time yet to be determined.
However, this privilege will not make StatsCanada immune to data breaches, but in fact, will make it a stronger target for data hackers. According to the Breach Level Index, since 2013 there have been 13+ billion records lost or stolen, with an average of 6.3+ million lost on a daily basis. The increasing centralization of data makes this more likely. For Statistics Canada, which has been collecting tax filings, census data, location, household, demographic, usage, health and economic data, it is increasingly amassing its data online. According to National Newswatch, the dwindling survey completions and costly census programs have necessitated a move to compile information from other organizations such as financial institutions, which come at more reasonable costs and better data quality.
If this is the catalyst to aggregate compiled information, with the goal of record linking, it will unearth significant privacy alarms in the process. For StatsCanada, which has received significant government support because of the critical information it lends to policy decisions, there are looming dangers of being the purveyor of every Canadian’s private information, beyond data breach vulnerabilities.
Anonymized Data Doesn’t Mean Anonymous Forever
I spoke to Alejandro Saucedo, the Chief Scientist at The Institute for Ethical AI & Machine Learning, a UK-based research center that develops industry standards and frameworks for responsible machine learning development and asked him to weigh in on this issue:
Canadians are rightly worried. It concerns me that StatsCanada is suggesting that just discarding names and addresses would be enough to anonymize the data. Not to point out the obvious, but data re-identification is actually a big problem. There have been countless cases where anonymized datasets have been reverse engineered, let alone datasets as rich as this one.
Re-identification is used to reverse-engineer the anonymity data state and uses alternative data sources to link information to identity. Using publicly available data, easily found in today’s BigData environment, coupled with the speed of advanced algorithms, Saucedo points to successful attempts of re-identification: reverse engineering credit card data, or when this engineer was able to create a complete NYC taxis data dump of 173 million trips and fare logs by decoding the cryptographically secure hashing function that anonymized the medallion and taxi number.
Ethical hacks are not new to banking or any company that collects and manages significant data volumes. These are intentional hacks propagated internally and intentionally by corporations against their existing infrastructure to ensure mitigation of vulnerabilities on-premise and online. This practice ensures the organization is up to par with the latest methods for encryption and security as well as current breach mechanisms. As Saucedo points out:
Even if StatsCanada didn’t get access to people’s names (e.g. requested the data previously aggregated), it concerns me that there is no mention of more advanced methods for anonymization. Differential Privacy, for example, is a technique that adds statistical noise to the entire dataset, protecting users whilst still allowing for high-level analysis. Some tech companies have been exploring different techniques to improve privacy – governments should have a much more active role in this space.
Both Apple and Uber are incorporating Differential Privacy. The goal is to mine and analyze usage patterns without compromising individual privacy. Since the behavioral patterns are more meaningful to the analysis, a “mathematical noise” is added to conceal identity. This is important as more data is collected to establish these patterns. This is not a perfect methodology but for Apple and Uber, they are making momentous strides in ensuring individual privacy is the backbone of their data collection practices
Legislation Needs to be Synchronous with Technology
GDPR is nascent. Its laws will evolve as technology surfaces other invasive harms. Government is lagging behind technology. Any legislation that does not enforce fines for significant breaches in the case of Google Plus, Facebook or Equifax will certainly ensure business and government maintain the status quo.
Challenges of communicating the new order of data ownership will continue to be an uphill battle in the foreseeable future. Systems, standards and significant investment into transforming policy and structure will take time. For Statistics Canada and the Canadian government, creating frameworks that give individuals unequivocal control of their data require education, training, and widespread awareness. Saucedo concedes,
A lot of great thinkers are pushing for this, but for this to work we need the legal and technological infrastructure to support it. Given the conflict of interest that the private sector often may face in this area, this is something that the public sector will have to push. I do have to give huge credit to the European Union for taking the first step with GDPR – although far from perfect, it is still a step in the right direction for privacy protection.
Petition to the House of CommonsWhereas:
- The government plans to allow Statistics Canada to gather transactional level personal banking information of 500,000 Canadians without their knowledge or consent;
- Canadians’ personal financial and banking information belongs to them, not to the government;
- Canadians have a right to privacy and to know and consent to when their financial and banking information is being accessed and for what purpose;
- Media reports highlight that this banking information is being collected for the purposes of developing “a new institutional personal information bank”; and
- This is a gross intrusion into Canadians’ personal and private lives.
This post first appeared on Forbes.
Hessie Jones is the Founder of ArCompany advocating AI readiness, education and the ethical distribution of AI. She is also Cofounder of Salsa AI, distributing AI to the masses. As a seasoned digital strategist, author, tech geek and data junkie, she has spent the last 18 years on the internet at Yahoo!, Aegis Media, CIBC, and Citi, as well as tech startups including Cerebri, OverlayTV and Jugnoo. Hessie saw things change rapidly when search and social started to change the game for advertising and decided to figure out the way new market dynamics would change corporate environments forever: in process, in culture and in mindset. She launched her own business, ArCompany in social intelligence, and now, AI readiness. Through the weekly think tank discussions her team curated, she surfaced the generational divide in this changing technology landscape across a multitude of topics. Hessie is also a regular contributor to Towards Data Science on Medium and Cognitive World publications.
This article solely represents my views and in no way reflects those of DXJournal. Please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
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