Case study - using automation as a cost-effective alternative to offshoring and outsourcing

Gautier Ripert, Global Head of Operations, discusses AXA Investment Managers' adoption of robotics process automation to reduce errors, cut costs and as an alternative to outsourced operations

Sara Benwellposted on Thursday, January 23, 2020

Automation is becoming a critical part of the operations puzzle for many organisations and AXA Investment Managers is no different.

Gautier Ripert, Global Head of Operations at AXA Investment Managers, explained such of the benefits that the company has seen from its new use of technology and, in particular, robotics process automation (RPA).

He said: "Of course, there was a cost which was significant but a robot is not going to be distracted by the extraneous events, so it operates with a lesser degree of errors. Everything is recorded and it is always available. 

"A robot is not going to be distracted by the extraneous events, so it operates with a lesser degree of errors"

"What is interesting about the productivity is that it is scalable so if you need a robot because your volume is increasing it is very easy to implement.

We feel that RPA can be used not only for recurring tasks but also one-off tasks that are massive. If you are changing the way that you are producing your factsheets and want to compare a thousand factsheets on a monthly basis during your parallel run - a robot is a perfect candidate to perform this type of function instead of an employee."

He explained that while the implementation can be quick and straightforward, businesses must be very rigorous when documenting the process and the way it works.

If you get it right, the pay-offs can be significant and the external benchmarking shows that on average the pay back is between 8-12 months, with a cost saving of around 80 per cent, compared to 45-50 per cent with outsourcing and 55 per cent through offshoring,

"We can put pressure on our providers to further automate so that they adapt their technologies and decrease their costs as well."

Ripert said: "We do offshore and outsource a lot and what is good with RPA is that it gives us an alternative to outsourcing and can put pressure on our providers to further automate so that they adapt their technologies and decrease their costs as well.

"When you have a new process or are reviewing your processes you have three options, outsourcing, offshoring and RPA. The RPA is really able to free up your resources so that they can be allocated to a more complex and added value task."

"Now at AXA IM, we always ask ourselves whether we can automate part of the process when it makes sense instead of offshoring or outsourcing as this is something that is now in our DNA."

"It is also very crucial that we don’t have robots in the data centre that are operating without any control."

So far, most of the automation AXA has carried out have been in the technology area, but Ripert says that the company is also exploring possibilities on the the investment management side such as trading of portfolio managers as well as corporate functions who have started to adopt technology, including finance departments - where it can be very useful.

Of course, it is not enough to simply automatic, and Ripert argues that supervision is critical to making good choices.

He concluded: We need to have someone has oversight and knowledge of the end-to-end process so that if there is a disruption of the robot, we know what it is doing and can replace it in the case of an emergency..

"It is also very crucial that we don’t have robots in the data centre that are operating without any control."

 

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