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Process Digitization: Supporting the Customer Journey, End to End


From the back office to the front office, banks need a realistic way to holistically digitize all they do for customers. Here’s how banks can address this mandate, and fend off born-digital competitors across the industry value chain.

From the back office to the front office, banks need a realistic way to holistically digitize all they do for customers. Here’s how banks can address this mandate, and fend off born-digital competitors across the industry value chain.

Process digitization is woven into our daily lives. Pay a bill or take a course online. Swipe a credit card (or insert it, chip first) at a store. Use a mobile app to make a dinner reservation or summon Uber. All of these transactions and tasks involve digital processes to assemble, assess and move data and related financial information. 

Financial services and insurance companies are going all-in on digital. Offering online banking through the Web and mobile apps, or the ability to file insurance claims via mobile app, offer strong, relevant examples of digital’s growing role. 

But just how digital are those processes really? What may seem like a reasonable digital experience for the customer may — when it hits the middle office — devolve into multiple manual workflows and handoffs, and an inordinate array of paper-based steps to complete the process.

True end-to-end process digitization from front, to middle, to back office is the next frontier for financial services companies. And it’s become an urgent priority to effectively compete with financial technology (fin-tech) competitors, which have a built-in, born-digital advantage: a structure that enables real-time decisioning, offers and fulfillment in areas that include crypto-currency and retail and institutional financial services. 

Take, for example, the case of Rocket Mortgage from Quicken Loans. The company now makes it possible for customers to receive loan approvals in as few as eight minutes. Achieving this level of responsiveness — migrating away from processes that were inundated with paper-based documentation — took five years and a ground-up rebuilding of the company’s mortgage application process. It perfectly illustrates a key upfront requirement for process digitization: understanding the customer’s journey from beginning to end to bring about effective process digitization.

Of course, banks are not standing still. Some services, such as credit cards, near-real-time approval and issuance, are becoming mainstream offerings, and new opportunities in mortgage lending, payments and other services are fast emerging. 

End-to-end process digitization can help banks move to the next level, of collapsing their cost structure across middle- and back-office functions and increasing agility and efficiency. By coupling these operations with the digital customer experience at the front end and leveraging the power of data analytics, banks and insurers can truly become and behave like digital institutions.

Process Digitization Accelerates

Digital process transformations are ramping up across our client base. For example:

  • A U.S. financial holding company wanted to fully digitize its loan application processing, underwriting and closing processes, which were paper-based, time-consuming and labor-intensive. It digitized the creation of loan requests submitted through Web and mobile channels, including ingesting and scanning hard-copy mortgage documents and routing them to the respective loan officer. The initiative reduced paper use by 80%, origination and processing time by 20%, and origination costs by 10%.

  • A Midwest U.S. bank needed to reengineer its outdated call center workflow to boost revenue and operational efficiency. It digitized workflows using a contact center accelerator, a business process management and middleware applications wrapper that leveraged Web method services, and an enhanced user interface with a bootstrap component. By deploying a scalable platform, it enabled process integration of call center activities with marketing offers and fraud alerts. The results included a 40% improvement in call-handling time, a 30% reduction in cycle time for agent training, and six-figure savings.

  • A large European financial institution sought to modernize its processes for managing customer campaigns, which were conducted largely in an ad hoc manner. It digitized communications workflow for 16 campaigns, using Pegasystems’ Rule Process Commander. The initiative helped improve workstream management, increase system output consistency and streamline system maintenance and monitoring.

  • A leading asset management and securities services company needed to onboard one of its largest customers — a global financial institution — which required extracting signatures for a large number of open accounts. The company leveraged our proprietary tools, delivered in a business process as a service (BPaaS) model, to significantly reduce the manual effort and time needed to accomplish this.

In each of these cases, process digitization helped enable more consistent results, faster processing, greater accuracy and lower costs. In addition to improving customer experience and operating efficiency, the automation of audit trails can strengthen compliance with know-your-customer, anti-money laundering and other regulatory requirements.  

A key driver in the advancement of process digitization — enabling more processes to be digitized from end to end — is robotic process automation (RPA) (which will be covered in our next Perspectives article). According to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation, RPA is “the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.” (To learn more about our view on this topic, please view the following video.)

Process Digitization: Energizing the Customer Journey

What does RPA (or what we call intelligent process automation) mean in practical terms? As we’ll explain in our next article, RPA can be an engine to completely reimagine entire workflows. What if a 10-step process could be reduced to three steps? What if a small insurance claim could be approved using automation, based on the claim amount and customer profile? What if better data quality, forensics and detection patterns could help root out fraud, reducing losses? These opportunities and more are unfolding through end-to-end process digitization and RPA. 

It’s a challenging time for banks and insurers. But it can be an exciting one for organizations that seize the moment.

This article was written by Prasad Chintamaneni, President of Cognizant’s Banking and Financial Services business unit. He can be reached at

To learn more about process digitization, please read our white paper Digital Process Acupuncture: How Small Changes Can Heal Business, and Spark Big Results,” or visit the Banking and Financial Services and Business Process Services sections of our website.

Read the other installments of this series: Disrupt or Be DisruptedFour Key Considerations to a Superior Banking Experience, and How Data Fuels Banking's Digital Transformation

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Process Digitization: Supporting the Customer Journey, End to End