Successes and Failures when Evaluating Technology Providers | Ascent

Companies are now being asked to do more with the same — or reduced — headcount. Technology provides the only viable way to do so.

By Craig Novack, Account Executive

My career has taken me through a number of different industries — from financial services to insurance and law. During that time I’ve worked with financial advisors, risk managers, lawyers, and others who all shared a similar predicament: They brought a lot to the table in terms of expertise and experience, but they felt bogged down by tedious tasks which, for the most part, they didn’t believe technology could help automate effectively.

During the last few years, though, this perspective has started to change. Many of these experts have seen how other departments within their organizations were able to leverage automation and have witnessed the maturation of technology and its increased capabilities. They were already starting to consider how automation might be able to help when current events forced their hand.

The ongoing global pandemic has wrought chaos and havoc across the world and changed technology from a “nice to have” to a “need to have.” Companies are now being asked to do more with the same — or reduced — headcount. Technology provides the only viable way to do so.

But the processes of evaluating technology providers and implementing new solutions are not easy ones. I’ve seen some companies work through them with great success — and others with great frustration. 

So at a time when wins and failures have greater impact than ever, I wanted to share a few examples I’ve seen of each. 

WATCH VIRTUAL CHAT: Digital Transformation in Financial Services: How to Make it Work for You

 

Win: When automation is empowering — instead of replacing — people.

Risk & Compliance teams possess unique and significant expertise, so the point of bringing on new technology shouldn’t be to eliminate humans from the equation. Instead, it should be about determining how you can better leverage existing skills to drive better results. Where does technology fit, and where do humans fit? 

With the right balance, technology can liberate Risk and Compliance teams from tedious tasks like regulatory monitoring and change management. At Ascent, our regulatory knowledge platform is built using a mix of AI-powered technology and human domain expertise. Our customers use our solutions in much the same way — as a way to supplement their in-house experts.

Fail: When new technology doesn’t align with business objectives.

Sometimes tech solutions are tasked with pie-in-the-sky objectives — which would require a significant investment and years of work to achieve (while in the meantime, most likely, new tech would pop up that would offer a better fit). Other times it’s the opposite. I’ve seen companies onboard point solutions that hit only a very narrow need and that don’t offer the ability to expand in functionality over time. The tech doesn’t really seem valuable, weakening the case made for implementing it in the first place, and it often has to be ripped out and replaced down the road as business objectives expand beyond it.

This is why it’s so important to make sure that the capabilities of any new tech are as aligned as possible with organizational goals. Will the technology meaningfully automate an existing process where resources can then be redirected in service of a business objective? Do the right resources — both financially and personnel-wise — exist to make the implementation a success so the full value of the solution can be realized? Is the timing right for the business? 

Where I’ve seen implementations happen most successfully is when these questions have answers.

Win: Getting buy-in from the top down.

The opportunity to leverage new technologies can appear at any tier of a business — from a supervisor recognizing a way to streamline efficiencies as a team, to an analyst recognizing a routine task that can be automated. But for the application of technology to be successful, there needs to be buy-in from the top down. 

Leadership needs to not only recognize and believe in the value of a new solution, they also need to understand their role in helping to drive usage. When this happens, doors are opened for a successful implementation, and — even more importantly — culture is aligned around the importance and proper use of technology. 

Fail: An all or nothing approach.

Too often, companies look at taking on a new technology as something that must be done completely or not at all. There are a few reasons I caution against this.

For one, even after thoroughly auditing a new solution, it can sometimes be difficult to know if it is a right fit for your processes until you actually adopt it and implement it. Making this a piecemeal approach, where you might implement one tier of a solution before taking on the complete version, can help make the process much smoother. You have an opportunity to gradually introduce automation into your workflow, increasing your understanding of its functionality and your trust in its capabilities.

Additionally, a piecemeal approach can make the price-point less painful. Decision makers are likely more willing to sign off if this is the case, and you can begin to see the cost-saving power of the solution in real time.

This, again, is why it’s so important to find a solution that has the ability to grow with your company. 

Win: Thoroughly vetting out tech providers.

The more you know about the solutions you’re considering, the more you can accurately evaluate them — and trust that they work as advertised.

This includes educating yourself about how the technology works so that it doesn’t seem like a black box. This also includes educating other stakeholders about this too, so they can appreciate the total value offered.

Ask the vendor for references. Ask to speak to customers where the solution worked well — and where it didn’t. Ask for case studies and results that bear out the true cost benefit. Ask to speak to the vendor’s product and operations teams. 

And, in addition to the piecemeal approach discussed above, consider running a pilot or proof of concept so you can see the solution in action before committing fully. This is another way to understand at a hands-on level how the solution would fold into day-to-day processes. 

READ ARTICLE: “But Does RegTech Actually Work?” 3 Ways Financial Firms and RegTechs Can Bridge the Trust Gap

 

Stay ahead of the curve — and your competitors.

The world will almost certainly be somewhat different after this crisis is over, but some things will undoubtedly still be the same. Organizational pressures will still exist. Competition will still be there. Companies will still see a need to be as efficient as possible. 

The right technology solution can help drive better response time to customers, optimize costs, open up new revenue streams, and create better processes to reduce risk and allow for better security of data. Consider taking the time to determine which solution is best for your business and your needs so you can stay ahead of the curve.

 

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Modern challenges require modern tools. Interested in seeing how Ascent can help you automate horizon scanning, change management, and obligations management? 

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