Deutsche Bank goes digital empowering their workforce globally.
Deutsche Bank faced many operational hurdles following a period of rapid growth.
Silos of data and unlinked systems meant wasted time for employees moving information manually. Mountains of paper and electronic forms required employees to process files and fact-check by hand.
Mark Matthews, head of operations for the corporate bank, investment bank, and capital release units, knew that digitizing more work would improve services. More importantly, digital offered the potential to positively change the work culture at Deutsche Bank by facilitating cross-functional cooperation.
Discovering Where To Start
Mark Matthews, head of operations for the corporate bank, investment bank, and capital release units
“When we started our digital journey, we were not trying to solve one problem. We knew opportunities existed in some obvious areas, such as our know-your-customer and anti-money laundering areas of the business,” Matthews says. “We were more interested in finding out how we could improve the operations of the bank across the board in areas that have not benefited from major technology programs.”
Matthews’ team took a systematic look at the bank’s operations processes, systems, and data. Part of this discovery focused on how to get more out of the bank’s existing IT systems. This team included employees as well as external experts. Data science team members played a critical role.
Mathews team created activity maps, costing models and organizational maps across all functions. They looked at how to bridge the mini-ecosystems that existed across the bank. The results were an inventory of projects. Matthews explains that this level of detail was needed to justify the funding for each project.
From the strategy and discovery work, Matthew’s team selected a suite of digital tools. Like many companies, Deutsche Bank took a hybrid approach with some homegrown software tools as well as commercial off the shelf software.
Natural Language Processing Accelerates Discovery
Using natural language processing, the data science team read through the bank’s archive of over 100 million emails between employees, partners, and customers. Natural language processing is a field of artificial intelligence that enables computers to analyze and understand human language. The bank’s data science team extracted keywords and their relationships to people and other keywords. This project unlocked a wealth of knowledge that the bank never had before.
“We found employees used email as a workflow tool to bridge the gap between systems in many cases,” Matthews says. “We also found that things considered ‘little’ in the past added up to a ‘big’ something worth addressing.”
He noted that the bank had analyzed email for years for insider trading and other compliance uses. Deutsche Bank used tools in its Data Lab in Ireland and open source libraries to mine the bank’s information for opportunities. Still, their new natural language processing system deepened their insight across many additional areas in the bank.
Matthews says, “The key to our success was our ability to train the system using our own company and industry-specific vocabulary.”
Automation Improves Speed and Accuracy
Deutsche Bank bridges disconnected trading systems with automation.
Deutsche Bank selected software companies BluePrism for attended robotic process automation and WorkFusion for unattended intelligent automation. Attended automation refers to a digital helper app on the desktop to automate repetitive tasks. When machines execute tasks and make decisions on their own, then it is called unattended intelligent automation.
BluePrism allows for data sharing and collection between a bank system and Excel to be automated and controlled. On a simple level, it mimics what humans, completing tasks at scale in a controlled, approved manner. Matthews says, “BluePrism gives us the company-wide control to set the rules that govern the use of data from the bank’s systems to the employees’ desktop computer.”
Matthews noted that the bank’s use of unattended automation is quite prolific. Deutsche Bank uses WorkFusion to automate the integration between the banks’ systems and third-party systems. “We picked WorkFusion because they provide a learning automation platform, which means our employees did not have to become programmers to use it,” Matthews says.
Teams use WorkFusion to implement artificial intelligence that will cut in half the time it takes to screen clients for adverse media, part of the bank’s know-your-customer screening processes. The software scans news sentiment and context for negative news, rather than looking for rudimentary word associations.
The bank uses a digital document capture platform to capture physical documents and forms. Workfusion automates the data harvesting from documents into the corresponding bank system. The paperwork required to support refinancing your home is a good example. The use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Scanning technology in Document Custody Operations in Santa Ana is saving the bank millions of euros in costs and allows it to redeploy its resources.
The bank uses SalesForce.com as its customer-relationship management platform coupled with machine learning software for client management. The combined system allows the bank employees to spot potential customer issues, and proactively resolve them before they become a problem.
Building The Digital Culture
Matthews’ has a small, core team driving the digital transition across operations. Their mission is to push out the control framework, agile development approach, and digital tools for automation to the employees in the bank.
The control framework is a clear set of guidelines and a vetting process for the bank to evaluate candidate processes automation. It ensures that employees can proceed with automation at their discretion while forcing regular collaboration.
The agile development approach is how the bank teaches employees to think about automating processes, so everyone uses the same project management language and metrics. The bank standardized with a suite of digital tools that do not require the average employee to be a programmer.
Deutsche Bank’s RPA fair educates over 1,000 employees.
Reskilling employees on how to use digital in their daily jobs is a top priority for Deutsche Bank. In late 2019, the bank held a Robotics Process Automation (RPA) fair in India, where over 1,000 employees attended. The bank taught classes and gave demonstrations on automation to attendees.
It is a highly collaborative process, explains Ranganathan Krishnan, head of process automation platforms for the group chief information office. “We use a citizen-led model for RPA, where operations and the business take ownership of the automation, while technology provides the tools, platforms, and framework. As a first step, we educate our employees through a hands-on lab, which introduces them to the basics and shows the possibilities of automation as well as the key controls we need to follow.”
“Automation is a real force multiplier when many people know how to use it,” Matthews says. “These advances in software mean that operations employees can do sophisticated computer programming with little IT experience within a controlled development environment.”
Most automation workflow is process-based, so it makes sense for operations staff to lead these efforts. In recognition of this, the bank launched a new “operations engineer” career path. The role builds skill sets in process re-engineering, digital automation and data analytics.
Deutsche Bank employees learning how to use WorkFusion.
The curriculum includes a mixture of classes, online learning, and workshops taught in-house and by outside specialists. The online curriculum, called BOOST, is available to any employee.
Hard Work Delivers Results
The hard work appears to be paying off for Deutsche Bank.
Money laundering regulations require a Deutsche Bank employee to examine every financial transaction manually. The employee signs on to one of many trading systems to check an account position, move an account, or to close an account. Using robotic process automation, the bank streamlined the manual pieces of the money laundering processes. The bank saved 210,000 hours of work that employees would typically do by hand. The automation process checked over 3.4 million positions, automatically closed 380,000 accounts, and migrated 80,000 accounts for Brexit, according to Matthews .
Deutsche Bank uses automation to keep on top of money-laundering.
In another example, the custody regulations require an army of employees to manually process paper documents. It was time-consuming and costly. Using high-speed scanners and intelligent automation, the bank automated the digitization of paper documents. WorkFusion extracted information from the files, then posted it to the correct banking system. Automating the custody process resulted in record processing rates as well as minimizing the requirement for a person to touch paper and key in data.
“We continue to see great results in our digital journey at the bank,” Matthews says. “It is equally as exciting to see our employees participating in building the digital culture required to get the results.”